The versatile “swing wing” F-111, unofficially named the “Aardvark” until its retirement ceremony on July 27, 1996, when the name was made official, entered the USAF inventory in 1967. The F-111’s wings are straight for takeoffs, landings or slow speed flight; by sweeping its wings rearward, it can exceed twice the speed of sound (Mach 2).
In 1960 the Department of Defense combined the USAF’s requirement for a fighter-bomber with a Navy need for an air-superiority fighter, though the Navy eventually canceled its program. In all, 562 F-111s of all series were built; 96 of them were production F-111Ds, 94 were production F-111Es, and 106 were production F-111Fs.
The F-111 was a long-range, all-weather strike aircraft capable of navigating at low level to reach targets deep in enemy territory and to deliver ordnance on the target. Primarily a bomber, the F-111 featured a sweep wing varying between 16 degrees and 72.5 degrees, with side-by-side seating for a pilot and weapons systems officer.
The E model was an improved version of the F-111A and was introduced before the D model. The F-111D featured an improved Mark II avionics package, more powerful TF30-P-9 engines, and an environmental control system. The F-111F model was equipped with an all-weather AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack infra-red targeting designator/reader carried in a pod-mounted turret. It could track and designate ground targets for targets for laser, infra-red and electro-optical bombs. The National Museum of the United States Air Force has an F-111F on display in its Cold War Gallery.
|Type||Number built/ converted||Remarks|
|YF-111A||2||RAF K to USAF as YF then FB|
|F-111A||159||18 pre-production and 141 production aircraft|
|RF-111A||1(cv)||Converted A; program canceled|
|F-111B||7||U.S. Navy shortnose version|
|F-111C||24||RAAF; A with FB wings|
|RF-111C||4 (cv)||Photo-recon C for RAAF|
|F-111D||96||Improved E model|
|F-111E||94||Improved A model|
|F-111F||106||Improved D model|
|F-111K||0||RAF version; 50 canceled|
|FB-111A||76||Fighter-bomber; inc. RAF K|
|FB-111H||0||Larger FB version; canceled|
|EF-111A||42(cv)||Raven; ECM aircraft|
- The 11th F-111A S/N 63-9776 became the RF-111A.
- The 13th F-111A S/N 63-9778 was transferred to NASA Dryden in 1973.
- The 18th pre-production F-111A S/N 63-9783 became the FB-111A prototype.
- Four F-111Cs were converted to RF-111C for RAAF.
- One FB-111A crashed during acceptance testing and was never delivered to the USAF.
- Two US Navy F-111Bs were under construction when the program was canceled.
- Two nearly complete RAF F-111Ks were turned over to the USAF as YF-111A and completed as FB-111A S/N 67-149/150
- RAF F-111Ks under construction (besides the first two) of the 50 ordered were completed as FB-111A.
TECHNICAL NOTES (F-111F):
- Armament: One 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon, plus a mix of up to 24 conventional or nuclear weapons
- Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 of 25,000 lbs. thrust each with afterburner
- Maximum speed: 1,452 mph/1,262 knots
- Cruising Speed: 470 mph/408 knots
- Service ceiling: 60,600 ft.
- Range: 2,971 statute miles/2,584 nautical miles
- Span: 32 ft. swept, 63 ft. extended
- Length: 73 ft. 6 in. Height: 17 ft.
- Weight: +100,000 lbs. maximum
- Crew: Two