The F-106 began development as an improved version of the
F-102 Delta Dagger all-weather interceptor. Originally known as the F-102B, extensive structural and system changes resulted in the aircraft being redesignated as an F-106. The delta wing remained substantially unchanged, but the fuselage was modified to accommodate more powerful Pratt & Whitney J-75 turbojet. Engine intakes were re-located behind the cockpit and were variable for optimum engine performance at all speeds. The cockpit was moved forward relatively, and the shape of the fin and rudder changed. A new undercarriage was fitted, with steerable twin nose wheels. First flight was December 26, 1956, and delivery began to Air Defense Command units in July 1959. The F-106 attained initial operational capability with ADC in October 1959. The F-106 remained the mainstay of the U.S.'s air defense until 1988 when the last Delta Darts were withdrawn from service.
The F-106 was fitted with the sophisticated Hughes MA-1 electronic and fire control system and worked in conjunction with the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) defense system. The MA-1 took over control of the plane shortly after takeoff and guided it to the proper altitude and attack position. The system would then lock on and fire the F-106 weapons at the intruder aircraft, and return the plane to the vicinity of its air base, where the pilot took over control for landing
- F-102B : The original designation of the F-106A. Fitted with the MA-1 Integrated Fire Control System with SAGE datalink, J-75 afterburning turbojet, enlarged intake, variable geometry inlet ramps and shortened intake ducts, refined fuselage shape, modified wings and redesigned tailfin; tailpipe fitted with a device to reduce the tendency of the jet exhaust to blow unsecured objects around while taxiing, yet allowing virtually maximum performance at high thrust settings including afterburner. Performance was deemed unsatisfactory and modifications were made.
- Weapons configurations (projected)
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 2 x AIM-26 Super-Falcon, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 1 x AIM-26 Super-Falcon, 1 x AIM-4, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 1 x AIR-2A Genie, 2 x AIM-4 Falcon
- F-106A : Modified F-106 with improved performance. Maximum speed at least Mach 2.5, with some estimates as high as Mach 2.85 in level flight. The aircraft was capable of low supersonic speeds without afterburner (but with a significant range penalty) and had a maximum altitude at least 57,000 ft. Many were fitted with a conically-cambered wing for improved takeoff, supersonic and high-altitude flight. To improve the aircraft's range the aircraft was fitted with two streamlined external supersonic tanks that still kept the aircraft capable of sustained roll rates of 100 degrees per second. Since these tanks produced virtually no significant performance degradation they were rarely jettisoned and were routinely carried around. After 1972, many F-106s were refitted with a new canopy featuring improved visibility, improved optic sights and provision for a gunpack in the center weapons bay.
- Weapons configurations
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, and 2x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 2 x AIM-26 Super-Falcon, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 1 x AIM-26 Super-Falcon, 1 x AIM-4 Falcon, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon or
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 1 x AIR-2A or AIR-2B Genie, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon
- 2 x AIM-4 Falcon, 1 x M-61 Vulcan gunpack with 650 rounds, and 2 x AIM-4 Falcon
- F-106B : Two-seat, combat-capable training version. Pilot and instructor are seated in tandem. Due to the extra seat, the fuselage is actually better area ruled; combined with a likely reduction in weight.
- Weapons configurations same as F-106A.
- NF-106B : This designation was given to two F-106Bs used as test aircraft with NASA and associated research facilities from 1966 to 1991.
- F-106C : Unbuilt version. Aircraft was intended to have the AN/ASG-18 radar and fire control system fitted originally developed for the North American XF-108 Rapier. For its time, it was the largest radar to ever be fitted to a fighter, actually requiring hydraulic actuators to turn the antenna. To accommodate this larger radar system, the nose cone was longer and of greater diameter. The design featured an improved raised canopy design featuring better visibility, canards and lengthened rectangular inlet ducts. The aircraft was to be capable of carrying one GAR-9/AIM-47A in its center bay and one AIM-26A in each side bay. At one time, the US Air Force had considered acquiring 350 of these advanced interceptors, but the F-106C/D project was cancelled on 23 September 1958.
- F-106D : Unbuilt two seat version of the F-106C.
- F-106X : Unbuilt version (early 1968). Would have been outfitted with canards and powered by a JT4B-22 turbojet. It was envisioned as an alternative to the Lockheed YF-12, and was to have had a fire control system with "look-down, shoot-down" capability fed by a 40-inch radar dish.
- F-106E : Unbuilt version. On 3 September 1968, Convair issued a proposal for an "improved" interceptor that was to be designated F-106E/F. It was to be compatible with the upcoming airborne warning and control systems as well as with the "over-the-horizon" radar defense network. The F-106E/F would have had a longer nose and a new and improved radar with a look-down/shoot-down tracking and missile launch capability. It would also have had a two-way UHF voice and datalink radio. It would have been capable of launching both nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, including the AIM-26 Nuclear Falcon and the AIM-47.
- F-106F : Unbuilt two seat version of the F-106E
- QF-106: Version modified for remote operation, for use as a target drone for missile testing.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 70.7 ft (21.55 m)
- Wingspan: 38.25 ft (11.67 m)
- Height: 20.28 ft (6.18 m)
- Wing area: 661.5 ft²/61.52m² (Original Wing) or 695 ft²/64.57m² (Conically-Cambered Wing) ()
- Airfoil: NACA 0004-65 mod root and tip
- Empty weight: 24,420 lb (11,077 kg)
- Loaded weight: 34,510 lb (15,670 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J75-17 afterburning turbojet, 24,500 lbf (109 kN)
- Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0083
- Drag area: 5.8 ft² (0.54 m²)
- Aspect ratio: 2.10
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.3 (1,525 mph, 2,455 km/h)
- Range: 1,800 mi (1,600 nm, 2,900 km) combat
- Ferry range: 2,700 mi (2,300 nm, 4,300 km)
- Service ceiling: 57,000 ft (17,000 m)
- Rate of climb: 29,000 ft/min (150 m/s)
- Wing loading: 52 lb/ft² (255 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.71
- Lift-to-drag ratio: 12.1
- Time to altitude: 6.9 min to 52,700 ft (16,065 m)
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon
- Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
- Dassault Mirage III
- English Electric Lightning
- Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21/Chengdu J-7
- Saab 35 Draken
- Sukhoi Su-9/Su-11
- Sukhoi Su-15
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