Lockheed F-104C Starfighter
By kjfitz @ 2007-12-24 11:06:55
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was a single-engined, high-performance, supersonic interceptor aircraft that served with the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1958 until 1967. It continued in service with the Air National Guard until it was phased out in 1975. Subsequently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) continued to fly a small fleet. NASA F-104 aircraft flew in support of the X-15 and XB-70 projects. The F-104 continued to support the spaceflight programs until they were retired in 1995 and replaced by F/A-18 Hornets. The Starfighter was the first aircraft to hold simultaneous official world records for speed, altitude, and time-to-climb.
The F-104G version sold well amongst NATO air forces where these high-speed fighter-bomber variants continued in service with most operators until the late 1980s; the Italian Air Force examples being the last to be retired in 2004. Many air forces using F-104s eventually replaced them with the F-16 or Panavia Tornado.