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F-16 Fighting Falcon General Dynamics
(now Lockheed Martin)
F-16 Fighting Falcon
Multi-Role Fighter

DESCRIPTION:
Considered by many to be the best all-around fighter currently in sevice, the F-16 is one of the most popular designs in the world. The F-16 was originally created under the Light Weight Fighter (LWF) program of the early 1970s that sought a cheaper counterpart to the F-15 optimized for maneuverability and tactical attack missions. Spurred by foreign interest in a production model, LWF turned into the Air Combat Fighter (ACF) program and ultimately became a fly-off competition between the General Dynamics YF-16 and Northrop's YF-17. General Dynamics was named the winner in 1975 and given a contract to develop a production F-16. The US Air Force planned to buy up to 650 as replacements for the F-105 and a portion of the F-4 fleet while several NATO allies purchased the F-16 as a replacement for the F-104.

Though originally foreseen primarily as a ground attack platform with a secondary air defense capability, the F-16 later emerged as a very capable multi-role aircraft. The design uses variable camber wings and leading edge strakes to produce high lift and avoid root stall even at high angles of attack. In addition, the use of a fly-by-wire control system that can deflect control surfaces much faster than a human pilot makes the F-16 exceptionally maneuverable. The Falcon is also equipped with an array of sophisticated avionics and a broad weapons load.

The F-16 has remained highly effective thanks to constant updates and improved production models. Gradual evolution in the plane's capabilities have been introduced through a series of block numbers that provide upgrades to software, weapons systems, structures, and other systems while replacing obsolescent equipment. Early F-16A/B production models included the Block 10 and the Block 15 that introduced structural enhancements, a new radar, and increased weapon carriage.

Major improvements also came with the introduction of the F-16C/D encompassing the Block 25, Block 30/32, and Block 40/42 series. Upgrades to this F-16 batch included new engines, a better radar with precision night attack capability, and compatibility with an increasingly sophisticated array of smart weapons. The final production models purchased by the US are the Block 50/52 with further improvements to perform suppression of enemy air defense missions.

Though no longer in production for the US, the F-16 continues to evolve through export models. The latest of these is the F-16E/F Block 60 built for the United Arab Emirates. This series features an AESA radar as well as a considerably increased fuel capacity for greater range and endurance.

Its versatility, capability, and relatively low cost have made the F-16 the most widely built Western fighter since the F-86. Over 4,000 have been built to date for 24 countries. The F-16 has seen combat with several of these customers, most notably in the Middle East where the Falcon has fought over Lebanon and Iraq. Pakistan's F-16 fleet has also been busy having shot down several Soviet planes during the 1980s Afghan War and frequently engaging Indian aircraft.

Continuing production and ongoing upgrade efforts ensure the F-16 will serve well into the 21st century. The US plans to keep its fleet operational until 2025 when the F-16 is due to be fully replaced by the F-35. Most other F-16 customers are also expected to switch to the F-35 over the next two decades.

Data below for F-16C/D
Last modified 06 April 2011


HISTORY:
First Flight (YF-16) 2 February 1974
(F-16A) 8 December 1976
(F-16B) 8 August 1977
Service Entry 17 August 1978
Retirement USAF planned for 2025

CREW: (F-16A/C) one: pilot
(F-16B/D) two: pilot, instructor

COST: (F-16A/B) $14.6 million [1998$]
(F-16C/D) $18.8 million [1998$]

DIMENSIONS:
Length 49.33 ft (15.03 m)
Wingspan 31.00 ft (9.45 m)
Height 16.33 ft (5.09 m)

WING:
Root Airfoil Section NACA 64A204
Tip Airfoil Section NACA 64A204
Area 300.0 ft² (27.88 m²)
Aspect Ratio 3.20
Sweepback Angle 40° at leading edge
Control Surface Areas flaperons: 62.64 ft² (5.82 m²)
leading-edge slats: 73.42 ft² (6.82 m²)
Max Deflection Angles flaperons: unknown
leading-edge slats: unknown

TAIL:
Tailplane Span 18.29 ft (5.57 m)
Tailplane Area 63.7 ft² (5.92 m²)
Tailfin Area 43.1 ft² (4.00 m²) including dorsal and ventral surfaces
Control Surface Areas slab tailplane: 63.7 ft² (5.92 m²)
rudder: 11.65 ft² (1.08 m²)

UNDERCARRIAGE:
Type Retractable tricycle with two main gear and single steerable nose gear
Main Gear Single wheel per unit, tire size 27.75 x 8.75-14.5
Nose Gear Single wheel per unit, tire size 18 x 5.7-8
Wheel Track 7.79 ft (2.37 m)
Wheel Base 13.17 ft (4.0 m)

WEIGHTS & LOADINGS:
Empty (F-16A) 15,585 lb (7,070 kg)
(F-16B) 16,260 lb (7,365 kg)
(F-16C) 18,725 lb (8,495 kg)
Normal Takeoff 27,100 lb (12,295 kg)
Maximum Takeoff (F-16A) 35,400 lb (16,055 kg)
(F-16C) 42,300 lb (19,185 kg)
Maximum Landing unknown
Internal Fuel Capacity (F-16A) 6,970 lb (3,160 kg)
(F-16B) 5,785 lb (2,625 kg)
(F-16C) 7,160 lb (3,250 kg) in 1,055 gal (3,985 L) fuselage and wing tanks
(F-16D) 5,835 lb (3,255 kg) in 870 gal (3,295 L) fuselage and wing tanks
External Fuel Capacity 6,950 lb (3,160 kg) in two 370 gal (1,400 L) and one 300 gal (1,135 L) tanks
8,015 lb (3,645 kg) in two 600 gal (2,270 L) tanks
Maximum Payload 17,200 lb (7,800 kg) [normal]
20,450 lb (9,275 kg) [theoretical limit]
Wing Loading 73.0 lb/ft² (356.0 kg/m²) at 22,000 lb (9,980 kg)
110.0 lb/ft² (537.0 kg/m²) at 33,000 lb (14,970 kg)
Thrust/Weight Ratio (GE F110) 1.09
(PW F100) 0.90

PROPULSION:
Powerplant one General Electric F110-GE-100 or
one Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 afterburning turbofan
Engine Rating 1 x 17,800 lb (79.2 kN)
1 x 29,100 lb (129.4 kN) with afterburner
Engine Intakes One fixed geometry chin inlet
Fuel Type JP-8

PERFORMANCE:
Max Level Speed
(at altitude)
1,350 mph (2,175 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m), Mach 2.05
Max Level Speed
(at sea level)
915 mph (1,460 km/h), Mach 1.2
Cruise Speed unknown
Takeoff Speed unknown
Landing Speed unknown
Takeoff Distance (F-16A) 1,750 ft (535 m) with 4,000 lb (1,815 kg) external load
Landing Distance (F-16A) 2,650 ft (810 m) with 4,000 lb (1,815 kg) external load
Maximum Climb Rate 50,000 ft (15,239 m) / min
Service Ceiling 50,000 ft (15,239 m)
Combat Radius 865 nmi (1,605 km) with two AIM-9, two AIM-120, two 370-gal and one 300-gal fuel tanks
675 nmi (1,255 km) with two Mk-84, two AIM-9 or AIM-120, two 370-gal and one 300-gal fuel tanks
Ferry Range 2,275 nmi (4,215 km) with two 600-gal and one 300-gal fuel tanks
Endurance unknown
g-Limits +9.0 / -3.0

SYSTEMS:
Crew Escape McDonnell Douglas ACES II zero-zero ejection seat
Radar (F-16A/B) Westinghouse AN/APG-66 pulse-Doppler fire-control radar
(F-16C/D) Northrop Grumman AN/APG-68 multi-mode digital fire control radar
(F-16E/F) Northrop Grumman AN/APG-80 AESA radar
Avionics Dual 1553B databuses, Honeywell air data computer, modular mission computer (MMC), Litton LN-39 or LN-93 or Honeywell H-523 inertial navigation unit, Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-118 tactical air navigation system, Gould AN/APN-232 radar altimeter, GEC-Marconi wide angle holographic head up display (HUD) system
Self-protection Dalmo Victor AN/ALR-69 or Loral AN/ALR-56M radar warning receiver, Westinghouse AN/ALQ-131 or AN/ALQ-184 jamming pod, AN/ALQ-126B electronic countermeasures system
Flight Controls Four channel digital fly-by-wire
In-Flight Refueling Boom receptacle on fuselage centerline
Airbrakes Twin units ahead of tailplane with 60° of motion

COMPOSITION:
  • Aluminum: majority of structure composed of aluminum alloys
  • Honeycomb core: used on leading edge flaps, tailplane leading edges, and the twin ventral fins
  • Graphite/epoxy: used on fin and taileron skins

  • ARMAMENT:
    View a high-quality graphic of F-16 weapons load
    Gun one 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon (511 rds)
    Stations seven to nine external hardpoints and two wingtip rails
    Air-to-Air Missile AIM-7 Sparrow/Skyflash, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, Magic II, MICA, Python 3
    Air-to-Surface Missile AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-119 Penguin, Wasp, AS.30L
    Bomb B43 nuclear, GBU-10/12/24 Paveway laser-guided, GBU-15, Mk 82/83/84 GP, BLU-109, Mk 20 Rockeye, BLU-107 Durandal, CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 cluster, BL-755, Mk 36 Destructor
    Other ECM pods, LANTIRN pod, navigation pods, targeting pods, rocket pods, gun pods, autonomous free-flight dispenser system, up to four MALD decoys

    VARIANTS:
    YF-16 Prototypes tested under the Light Weight Fighter program; 2 built
    F-16 FSD Full Scale Development aicraft used as prototypes and test aircraft; 6 single-seat and 2 two-seat models built
    F-16A Production fighter model including Blocks 1 through 20; 674 built for USAF
    F-16B Two-seat trainer based on the F-16A; 121 built for USAF
    Block 1/5/10 Early production blocks of the F-16A/B with minor structural differences between them; 94 Block 1, 197 Block 5, and 312 Block 10 planes built
    Block 15 Updated F-16A/B series adding two pylons under the wing, new communication systems, and larger horizontal stabilizers; 983 built
    Block 15 OCU Operational Capability Upgrade introducing an updated engine, increased takeoff weight, cockpit improvements, enhanced avionics, and compatibility with Maverick, Penguin and AMRAAM missiles; 214 built and some Block 10 airframes converted
    F-16 ADF Air Defense Fighter based on the Block 15 but designed for US Air National Guard units with an upgraded radar and improved avionics; 270 converted
    Block 20 F-16A/B Block 15 OCU planes purchased by Taiwan but updated with a new radar, better mission computers, and incorporating most of the Block 50/52 improvements; 150 converted
    F-16/79 Proposed reduced-cost, reduced-capability version of the F-16A/B intended for export, marketed to several countries but a lack of orders led to the decision to sell the standard F-16 abroad; 1 built
    F-16A(R) F-16A aircraft of the Netherlands and Belgium modified to carry tactical reconnaissance pods
    RF-16A F-16A aircraft of Denmark modified to carry reconnaissance pods; 10 converted
    F-16 MLU
    F-16AM & F-16BM
    Series of Mid Life Update programs to upgrade the software and avionics of F-16A/B airframes bringing them to a near F-16C/D Block 50/52 standard and applied to the fleets of Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, and Portugal
    A-16 Proposed close air support derivative with structural improvements to carry a 30-mm cannon and 7.62-mm minigun pods on the wing developed as a replacement for the A-10; 2 prototypes converted from Block 15 airframes
    F/A-16 or F-16CAS F-16A/B Block 10 airframes modified for Close Air Support by mounting a 30-mm GAU-13 cannon in a centerline pod but the vibrations from the cannon were so severe as to make aiming impractical; 24 converted
    F-16C Upgraded one-seat fighter model with improved ground attack capability provided by a LANTIRN system and new ECM equipment, includes Blocks 25 through 50/52
    F-16D Two-seat trainer based on the F-16C
    Block 25 Introduced a new radar with precision night-attack capability as well as an enhanced engine, new computer systems, cockpit displays, and other avionics improvements; 209 built
    Block 30/32 Block 30 carries the General Electric F110 engine while Block 32 is fitted with the Pratt & Whitney F100, introduced the LITENING targeting pod, compatibility with HARM and AMRAAM missiles, and better navigation systems
    F-16C++ Unofficial designation used for the final Block 30/32 aircraft
    F-16 Recce US airframes modified to carry multi-sensor reconnaissance pods on the centerline, usually fitted to Block 25 and 30 aircraft of the Air National Guard
    F-16N & TF-16N Based on the F-16C/D Block 30 models and used by the US Navy for adversary training; 22 one-seat F-16N and 4 two-seat TF-16N built
    Block 40/42 Improved day-night/all-weather attack variants based on the Block 30/32 but compatible with night vision systems, the LANTIRN pod, and GPS weapons like JDAM, JSOW, and WCMD; 615 built
    F-16CG & F-16DG
    Night Falcons
    Unofficial designations for the single-seat and two-seat Block 40/42 aircraft
    Block 50/52 Introduced a new GPS/INS navigation system, updated engines, a helmet-mounted cueing system, and weapon system improvements
    Block 50D/52D Block 50/52 models adapted for Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) missions using Shrike or HARM missiles
    F-16CJ & F-16DJ Unofficial designations for the single-seat and two-seat Block 50D/52D aircraft
    F-16HTS Block 50D/52D airframes fitted with HARM Targeting System for full autonomous capability of the HARM missile; over 100 converted
    Block 50/52 Plus Introduced conformal fuel tanks along the upper wing strakes and an enlarged spline for avionics; purchased by Greece, Poland, Pakistan, and Singapore
    KF-16 F-16C/D Block 52 models purchased by South Korea and compatible with Harpoon missiles, built under license by Korean Aerospace Industries; 140 built
    F-16I Sufa Model for Israel based on the Block 50/52 Plus but with removable conformal fuel tanks and Israeli avionics; 102 to be built
    F-16E/F New production model incorporating conformal fuel tanks, an AESA radar, new engines, an enlarged spline for avionics, and other advanced upgrades, purchased by the United Arab Emirates
    GF-16 Ground instruction model used to train maintenance personnel
    F-16/101 Test aircraft modified from the first F-16 FSD airframe and used to evaluate the GE F101 engine for the production F-16
    F-16 CCV Control-Configured Vehicle modified from a YF-16 prototype and used to test advanced control systems; 1 converted
    F-16 AFTI Advanced Fighter Technology Integration aircraft built to expand on the F-16 CCV program and test a new digital flight control system as well as other advanced technologies like a voice controlled sytem and helmet-mounted targeting system, many of the systems tested have become standard on newer fighters; 1 converted from F-16 FSD airframe
    F-16 Agile Falcon Proposed low-cost version of the AFTI model featuring a larger wing and enhanced control systems; cancelled but later inspired Japan's F-2
    NF-16D VISTA Variable Stability Inflight Test Aircraft used to test advanced control systems
    F-16 MATV VISTA airframe modified with a Multi Axis Thrust Vectoring axisymmetric nozzle
    F-16 SFW Swept Forward Wing model proposed to test forward-swept wing technology; not built in favor of the X-29
    F-16XL or F-16E/F Advanced test aircraft modified with a large cranked delta wing and developed as a tactical strike aircraft prototype, the enormous wing held 27 hardpoints and nearly doubled the payload of a standard F-16, the F-16E was to be a production single-seat model and the F-16F a two-seat model but the program was cancelled after the USAF selected the F-15E and the two prototypes were later transferred to NASA for drag-reduction research; 1 single-seat and 1 two-seat models converted from F-16 FSD airframes
    F-16AT Falcon 21 Proposed low-cost alternative to the F-22 based on the F-16XL but with a more conventional wing
    F-16X Falcon 2000 Proposed F-16 variant with a lengthened fuselage and wing similar to the F-22 to nearly double fuel capacity
    F-16U Early proposal to the United Arab Emirates combining features of the F-16XL with the wing of the F-16X; cancelled in favor of the F-16E/F
    F-16 ES Enhanced Strategic model designed as an extended range F-16C/D with conformal tanks and an internal FLIR system to reduce drag, offered to Israel as an alternative to the F-15I and to the United Arab Emirates; 1 prototype converted from a Block 30 airframe
    F-16 GCAS Block 25 airframe modified to test Ground Collision Avoidance System technologies; 1 converted
    F-16 LOAN Low-Observable Asymmetric Nozzle demonstrator that tested a nozzle to reduce radar and infrared cross sections and improve maintenance; 1 converted from F-16C airframe to test technology for the Joint Strike Fighter
    F-16 UCAV Proposal to modify retired F-16 airframes into Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicles by increasing the wingspan and fuel capacity for long endurance missions
    F-16 FFD-1 Tailless delta wing configuration proposed for the USAF reconfigurable controls research program
    F-16IN Super Viper Proposed model for India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft contract featuring an AESA radar, infrared seach and track system, and electronic warfare systems; 18 would be built in the US and another 108 license built in India
    FS-X or F-2 Fighter loosely based on the F-16 built by Mitsubishi for Japan

    COMBAT HISTORY:

    Iraq - Osirak nuclear reactor strike (Israel, 1981)
    Lebanon Civil War (Israel, 1982)
    Soviet-Afghan War - shot down 3-4 Su-22, 2 MiG-23, 1 Su-25, 1 An-26 (Pakistan, 1986-1988)
    Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USAF, 1991)
    Iraq - Operation Northern Watch (USAF, 1991-2003)
    Iraq - Operation Southern Watch (USAF, 1991-2003)
    Venezuela Coup (Venezuela, 1992)
    Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USAF, Netherlands, 1995)
    Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (USAF, 1999)
    Kargil War (Pakistan, 1999)
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Israel, 2000-present)
    US Homeland Security - Operation Noble Eagle (USAF, 2001-present)
    Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (USAF, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, 2001-present)
    shot down Indian Searcher-II UAV (Pakistan, 2002)
    Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (USAF, 2003-present)
    Greece-Turkey skirmish (Greece, Turkey, 2006)
    Second Lebanon War (Israel, 2006)
    Syria - nuclear strike (Israel, 2007)
    Gaza Conflict (Israel, 2008-2009)
    Sudan - arms convoy strike (Israel, 2009)
    Libya - Operation Unified Protector / Odyssey Dawn (Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, UAE, USAF, 2011)

    OPERATORS:

    Bahrain, Bahrain Amiri (Royal Bahraini Air Force)
    Belgium, Belgishe Luchtmacht/Force Aérienne Belge (Belgian Air Force)
    Chile, Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Chilean Air Force)
    Denmark, Kongelige Danske Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force)
    Egypt, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Egyptian Air Force)
    Greece, Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia (Hellenic Air Force)
    Indonesia, Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara (Indonesian Air Force)
    Israel, Tsvah Haganah le Israel - Heyl Ha'Avir (Israeli Defence Force - Air Force)
    Italy, Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force)
    Jordan, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Malakiya al-Urduniya (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
    Morocco, Al Quwwat al Jawiyya al Malakiya Marakishiya (Royal Moroccan Air Force)
    Netherlands, Koninklijke Luchmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
    Norway, Kongelige Norske Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
    Oman, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat Oman (Royal Oman Air Force)
    Pakistan, Pakistan Fiza'ya (Pakistani Air Force)
    Poland, Polska Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej (Polish Air Defense and Aviation Force)
    Portugal, Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force)
    Singapore (Republic of Singapore Air Force)
    South Korea, Han-guk Kong Goon (Republic of Korea Air Force)
    Taiwan, Chung-Kuo Kung Chuan (Republic of China Air Force)
    Thailand, Kongtap Agard Thai (Royal Thai Air Force)
    Turkey, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force)
    United Arab Emirates (United Arab Emirates Air Force)
    United States (US Air Force)
    United States (US Air Force Reserves)
    United States (US Air National Guard)
    United States (US Navy)
    United States (NASA)
    Venezuela, Fuerza Aérea Venezolana (Venezuelan Air Force)

    3-VIEW DIAGRAM:

    F-16 Fighting Falcon

    SOURCES:
    • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 180-181, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Chant, Christopher and Taylor, Michael J.H. The World's Greatest Aircraft. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, 2006, p. 97, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 452, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 237-244, Lockheed (General Dynamics) F-16A/B Fighting Falcon, ADF F-16A/B Block 15, F-16C/D Fighting Falcon, F-16N Fighting Falcon, F-16XL/NF-16D/AFTI/F-16.
    • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 123-124, General Dynamics F-16A/C/N Fighting Falcon, F-16B/D Fighting Falcon.
    • Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 106-107, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Jackson, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. London: Paragon Books, 2002, p. 162-163, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Laur, Timothy M. and Llanso, Steven L. Encyclopedia of Modern U.S. Military Weapons. NY: Berkley Books, 1995, p. 88-91, Fighting Falcon (F-16).
    • Kinzey, Bert. F-16 A and B Fighting Falcon: In Detail & Scale. Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1982.
    • Miller, David, ed. The Illustrated Directory of Modern American Weapons. London: Salamander Books, 2002, p. 81-93, Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Müller, Claudio. Aircraft of the World. NY: Muddle Puddle Books, 2004, p. 226-227, Lockheed F-16C/D Block 50/52/60 Fighting Falcon.
    • Richardson, Doug. The Great Book of Modern Warplanes. NY: Portland House, 1987, p. 137-200, F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Spick, Mike. Brassey's Modern Fighters: The Ultimate Guide to In-Flight Tactics, Technology, Weapons, and Equipment. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2000, p. 104-109, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 131-132, Lockheed Martin (LMTAS) F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 116-119, Lockheed Martin (LMTAS) F-16 Fighting Falcon.
    • US Air Force F-16 Fact Sheet
    • US Navy F-16 Fact Sheet
    • Wilson, Jim. Combat: The Great American Warplane. NY: Hearst Books, 2001, p. 68-71, F-16 Fighting Falcon.
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