I'm a sucker for the sounds of aircraft powering up. Each has its own unique crescendo of clicks, grunts, and hisses. The F-15 sounds like a howling wolf stirring to life. The S-3 Viking's womp womp womp is notorious. But the F-16 has a distinct, rolling chorus that begins by throwing a handful of switches and pressing a few buttons.

Here's the start-up:

And the shutdown:

It's just as incredible from the pilot's perspective with the canopy closed:

But what's even more amazing is the amount of functionality crammed into the F-16's relatively simple and uncluttered cockpit. It does everything. The pilot can navigate around the world, fly intercepts, dogfight, drop a slew of different weapons, convey both radar, targeting pod and threat awareness sensor information, communicate with the outside world, and keep the man at the controls aware of the jet's health. And it manages to do all that with technology designed in the late 80s, with the majority of that tech taking to the skies with the first block of F-16As from the late 1970s.

Advertisement

Here's a quick tour of what it all does and how it works. File it away for the inevitable intergalactic uprising:

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com