General Dynamics F-111F-CF
The origins of the F-111 lie in US government's attempt to replace both the US Navy’s Phantom and the US Air Force’s F-105 with two versions of one new aircraft. The resulting Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) designed by General Dynamics incorporated variable geometry wings, afterburning turbofans, all-weather weapons delivery electronics and terrain-following radar. The YF-111A first flew in 1964 and the F-111A entered USAF service in 1967. When the naval F-111B was cancelled in 1968 and the F-111A’s development was not going smoothly, many called it a costly failure. However, the F-111A proved itself in combat during the closing months of the Vietnam War and 562 F-111s were eventually built in nine operational versions. For over twenty years it was a potent strategic and tactical bomber in the USAF''s Cold War arsenal, being officially retired in 1996. In addition to the strike version, 42 unarmed electronic countermeasures aircraft - EF-111A Ravens -saw service in the USAF between 1981 and 1998. The Royal Australian Air Force has operated F-111s since 1973 and currently plans to keep them in service until 2010. Although only ever officially referred to as the F-111, the name “Aardvark” was given to it by its air and ground crews because of its distinctive long, pointed nose.