Air Weapons

General Dynamics

F-111 Aardvark

Designed with a myriad of roles in mind, the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark (a name which was only officialized on the very day of its retirement) was the first tactical aircraft with variable-geometry wings to enter service in the world. The F-111 was born out of the TFX requirement which called for a long-range strike aircraft for the USAF and a carrier-borne long range interceptor for the USN both of which were to be equipped with the most advanced avionics available such as terrain-following radar. However the naval variant was an umitigated disaster and was cancelled with the role later given to the F-14. Nevertheless, in USAF service the F-111 performed admirably despite a plethora of initial difficulties which led to frequent groundings and upgrades. F-111s saw service during the later years of the Vietnam war where a group of 4 Aardvarks could carry as much ordinance as 20 F-4s. The next major combat deployment of the F-111 was during the 1986 strikes on Libya where they flew directly from bases in the UK with aereal refuelling along the way. Finally, the F-111 was used with much success in the Gulf War where they delivered a punishing blow of precision-guided munitions. Now retired from USAF service after years of outstanding service, the F-111 continues to fly with the Australian RAAF, its only export customer.

The YF-111A prototype had its maiden flight on 21 December 1964 and entered service with the USAF as the F-111A which saw extensive service during the late campaigns of the Vietnam War and was subsequently upgraded into the F-111E. For the USN, a naval interceptor variant was designated F-111B but was cancelled after only seven had been built. The final definitive strike variants were the F-111D and F-111F, this last one with a much more stable engine and the ability to be equipped with the latest advanced munitions of its time. This variant also saw service in Libya and Iraq and was eventually retired in 1996 where on its last day of service was finally christened the Aardvark, a name which had hitherto been un-official. Early in its development, the Aardvark had been modified a a strategic nuclear bomber in SAC service, this was known as the FB-111A and could carry the AGM-69 stand-off nuclear missile. A final electronic warfare variant is known as the EF-111A Raven, these are all F-111A conversions by Grumman based around the AN/ALQ-99E tactical jamming system. They were retired in 1998.

Preceded by:

F-105 Thunderchief (1958)

Succeeded by:

F-15 Eagle (1976)
F-117 Nighthawk (1983)

Datafile

DesignF-111AF-111FFB-111AEF-111A
NameAardvarkAardvarkAardvarkRaven
TypeAttackAttackStrategic Bomber
Year1967197119691981
Crew2222
Dimensions
Length22.40 m22.40 m22.40 m23.16 m
Height5.22 m5.22 m5.08 m6.10 m
Wing Span19.20 m / 9.74 m19.20 m / 9.74 m21.34 m / 10.35 m19.20 m / 9.74 m
Wing Area48.8 m²48.8 m²51.1 m²48.8 m²
Weight
Empty20,943 kg21,537 kg21,764 kg25,073 kg
Maximum41,958 kg45,360 kg54,091 kg40,347 kg
Wing Loading860.2 kg/m²930.0 kg/m²1,058.6 kg/m²827.2 kg/m²
Performance
SpeedMach 2.5Mach 2.5Mach 2.2Mach 2.1
Ceiling18,288 m17,648 m15,240 m13,716 m
Range5,097 km5,436 km9,897 km2,990 km
Powerplant
Engine2 x TF30-P-3
Pratt & Whitney
4,876 / 8,392 (+) kgf
2 x TF30-P-100
Pratt & Whitney
6,604 / 11,385 (+) kgf
2 x TF30-P-7
Pratt & Whitney
5,670 / 9,231 (+) kgf
2 x TF30-P-3
Pratt & Whitney
4,876 / 8,392 (+) kgf
Thrust/Weight0.420.560.470.35
Sensors
RadarAN/APQ-113
AN/APQ-144
AN/APQ-134
-
Armament
Guns----
Payload13,608 kg13,608 kg17,010 kg-
Hardpoints668-
AS WeaponsM117
Mk 82/84
SUU-30
AGM-84
AGM-130
B43/57/61
BLU-107
CBU-52/59/71
CBU-87/89
GBU-10/12
GBU-15
GBU-24/28
Mk. 20
Mk. 82/84
SUU-30
AGM-69
B-43/61
-
Production
Built1411067642
Total564

Gallery