A remarkable anniversary in the history of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 programme will be marked on 20 January, exactly 50 years after a prototype of the lightweight fighter got airborne for the first time.

Our recently published extensive report into the milestone tells the story behind General Dynamics test pilot Phil Oestricher’s unscheduled outing from Edwards AFB in the YF-16, the programme’s official first flight on 2 February 1974, and the single-engined type’s evolution into the world’s most widely-flown fighter. Click here to read the full article.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary event, this gallery of images highlights some of the additional notable events, unusual F-16 variants, and leading operators of the US airframer’s evergreen fighter, as it continues to enjoy production success for multiple customers.