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Which is better: The F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F

Last post 06-29-2016, 2:02 AM by newstart028. 31 replies.
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  •  07-30-2003, 10:13 PM 2308

    Which is better: The F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F

    Hello everyone, I'm new to the site, and since it appears as if a great deal of intelligent and knowledgable people are in the forum, I just have a little question or two to ask: Which is the better plane, the F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F. That question has been on my mind for a while now, and even though I've looked on the web a great deal, I can't find any good comparisons between the two, probably because now the F-16XL is just a research plane. But if it were to go into production being upgraded to a combat - capable aircraft with an avionics suite on - par with the new Block 60s and a similarly powerful engine to match, I wonder which would be better, in terms of top speed, maneuverability, range, payload / payload diversity, avionics, the whole nine. I would just like to know, and your thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanx.
  •  08-18-2003, 5:24 PM 2330 in reply to 2308

    Re: Which is better: The F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F

    Top speed - F/A-18E/F
    maneuverability - F/A-18E/F
    Range - F-16XL (guesswork)
    payload - Don't know the payload of the F-18, but the F-16XL was capable of carrying twice the payload of the F-16, 40% further.
    payload diversity - Depends on what they are willing to make it capable of carrying.
    Avionics - Again depends on what they put in it.

    If it would have been beneficial it would have been mass produced.
  •  08-24-2003, 2:29 PM 2335 in reply to 2330

    Re: Which is better: The F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F

    Top Speed - So far, most web sites say at best that it goes more than Mach 1.8. However, none would even dare come out and say that it is even Mach 2 capable, meaning that it probably isn't. And we all know that the F-16 (much less) is more than capable of going Mach 2.
    Maneuverability - Depends on the speed. At under 450 or 400 miles per hour, the Hornet all day long. However, should the speed rise above that (especially supersonic), the well let's just say the Falcon will be eating Hornet real soon.
    Range - F-16XL definitely, cuz I did the math. If the F/A-18 has a range of let's 2,346 kilometers (Navy Fact File - http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/aircraft/air-fa18.html), and I divide that by 1.6 (to change kilometers to miles), and then multiply by 1.4, since the F/A-18 Super Hornet is supposed to have a range that's 40% longer than the F/A-18 Hornet, you get roughly 2,053 miles, while the F-16XL has a range of 2,850 miles, which is obviously greater.
    Payload - The F/A-18E/F has two extra hardpoints. The F-16XL has far more, all capable of carrying at the very least a 500 - lb Mk. 82 bomb. You do the math.
    Payload diversity & Avionics - I agree with ya here.
    Final Note - Heck yeah they should have put the F-16XL into production. It's a heck of a better air - ground fighter than the F-15E, but hey, that's just my opinion.
  •  08-24-2003, 3:15 PM 2337 in reply to 2335

    Re: Which is better: The F-16XL or the F/A-18E/F

    Top Speed - Very rarely are fighters like the F-16/F-18 operating close to their max speed. Max speed of the F-16XL would most likely be lower than the F-16.

    Maneuverability at high speeds (Supersonic) is not very important since the speed will all fighters have their sustained corner velocity well below that and therefore will drop to that speed quickly during their first turn in a dogfight. Since the F/A-18 is a dual engine plane it will outperform the F-16 at higher altitudes. It is only at lower altitudes the F-16 is superior.
    The F-16XL would be a poor dogfigthter compared to the F-16A/C due to its wing profile.

    Payload - You can't determine anything from the amount of stations. Planes can carry more than one munition on a single station and even though a normal F-16 has 9 stations doesn't mean it can carry for example 9 MK84 2000 lb bombs.

    Your Final note all depends on the avionics suite you put in it. Another thing to take into consideration is the F-15Es higher survivabilty due to its two engines.
  •  08-25-2003, 2:22 PM 2343 in reply to 2337

    With All Due Respect . . . .

    Run, I know that you're a moderator, and in being one, I'm sure a very knowledgeable person when dealing with F-16. That being said, I nearly can't believe what you wrote. Let's start from the beginning.

    Top Speed - I only said that the F-16XL could PROBABLY go Mach 2 to be nice. That's my fault for not coming right out and saying it can. IT CAN GO MACH 2, OR TO BE MORE PRECISE, IT CAN GO MACH 2.05 (roughly 1,320 mph). Where you get it that it's wing profile would inhibit it from such a feat is beyond me. Check out the following links for verification.

    F-16.Net - http://www.f-16.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle

    http://drs.yahoo.com/S=2766679/K=F-16XL/v=2/SID=e/l=WS1/R=2/H=0/*-http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/fighter/f16xl.htm

    http://www.jets.dk/forum/archive.asp?item=1492&debate=a

    Manueverability - The F-16XL has a DELTA WING, meaning it will not have a problem manuevering at higher altitudes. Check the link directly above and you'll realize what I mean. As for being a poor dogfighter, you have got to be kidding me. The whole point of the SCAMP program was to improve the F-16's supersonic performance, WHILE MAINTAINING IT'S LOW - SPEED AGILITY. Once again, it has a delta wing, one of the best wings a dogfighter can have. I don't know where this whole "wing profile" thing stems from, but as the links will verify, the F-16XL's wing is a lot better than any other F-16's wing.

    Payload - Okay, now let's do the freakin' math on this one, k. If the Super Hornet gains just 2 HARDPOINTS, BUT THE F-16XL GAINS 8, HMM, I WONDER WHICH WILL BE ABLE TO CARRY MORE. Yes, having 2 hardpoints doesn't necessary limit those 2 hardpoints to just 2 weapons, but come on, let's be honest, they could only hold at most 6 weapons together. But let's say that they just hold 1 weapon each, the Mk. 84, one of the heaviest weapons in the inventory. Now, if the F-16 has 8 more hardpoints, each easily capable of carrying a 500 - lb Mk. 82, then you do the math and tell me which carries more. And that's assuming that NONE of the new weapons stations can't handle a Mk. 84, which is HIGHLY unlikely.

    F-15E - Yes, it's more survivable, but guess what, it's also probably requires more maintenance. To tell me that 2 engines are easier to maintain than just 1, wow, that's somethin', especially if it's any engine from the later blocks of F-16s.
  •  08-25-2003, 5:05 PM 2344 in reply to 2343

    Re: With All Due Respect . . . .

    Normsta3 wrote:

    " I'm sure a very knowledgeable person when dealing with F-16"
    Not really, I just have fun flying them.

    Don't believe everything you read on the web. There are a lot of want to be experts out there. Just because some dude writes in a forum doesn't make it right. Use some real sources for crying out loud.

    Just because the profile of the F-16XL wing gave superior performance at supersonic speeds does not mean that it increased the top speed of the aircraft. Actually the F-16XL-1 was only capable of 1.8. The F-16 with the same powerplant is capable of Mach 2.05. With the F-16XL-2 with the GE-129 engine is capable of mach 2.0.
    Not that I like posting links, but I guess if you think everything you read is true:
    http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Newsroom/FactSheets/FS-023-DFRC.html
    I personally prefer sources like NASA and Janes. Most of the others are just kids dreaming up stuff.

    Maneuverability - Delta wings will have good instantaneous turn performance, but will suck ass when it comes to sustained turn performance which is the real player in a dogfight. Put a couple of canards on it and it will fix some of the increased drag and separated airflow problems. Show me a good dogfighter with a full delta wing like the F-16xl without canards. The idea behind the F.16XL was not to be a superior dogfighter, but to be a good multi role strike aircraft like the F-15E.
    The F-16XL is more stable than the F-16. Good if you want a smooth ride, but not beneficial for superior dogfight performance.

    Payload - It may very well be that the F-16XL was capable of carrying a higher load than the Super Hornet, I was just making a point that you can't just take that for granted due to its high amount of stations. According to your own links it looks like it has two stations capable of taking a Mk84.


    Of course a two engine aircraft is going to require more maintenance.

    You wrote:

    "To tell me that 2 engines are easier to maintain than just 1, wow, that's somethin',"

    When did I ever claim that and what is your point ? Everything of course has its price.

  •  08-26-2003, 1:10 PM 2345 in reply to 2344

    Points Taken

    Hey run, what's up? I must say, it's real nice talkin' to SOMEONE on this forum, cuz God no's that few people ever seem to feel the need to post anything. Our debates often prove quite interesting, and that being said, let's get back into it, okay, :)

    Top Speed - Okay, I KNEW, I just knew you would say that the single seater can only go Mach 1.8. I was only giving such a figure for estimation, to give you an idea of how fast the F-16XL was when complete. Now, if you look back at my original post, you should notice that I talk about an F-16XL that has the latest engine for the F-16 family, you know, those 30,000+
    pounds of thrusts engines found on the Block 60s and probably also the Block 52+. With an engine like that, I'm sure it would be much faster. I not sayin' it would break Mach 3 or somethin', but Mach 2 probably would be a piece of cake. Of course, having said that, I immediately think of your argument about the usefulness of top speed, in which you are indeed correct. Unless the plane is an interceptor, maximum speed is usually irrelevant. However, if the F-16XL were to be sold to foreign countries, where they may use it for as many different types of missions as possible to save cost (including interception), then it would be a slightly bigger deal. Oh, and sorry about all the links; I just wanted you to see where I got my information, that's all.

    Manueverability - I didn't realize a good deal of what you said about delta wings, especially since I thought the F-16XL was created partly to simultaneously taken advantages of the delta wing's strengths and destroy any weaknesses. Thank you for the info, for now I'm just that much smarter, lol, lol, :) And you are indeed right, the F-16XL was REALLY made to be a great dogfighter, though it still could be one. Finally, as to your question about a fighter with a full delta wing like the F-16XL that is a good dogfighter, well, I'm not quite sure what you mean by a "full" delta wing, but my best guess would be the Mirage 2000. From what I've heard, it's agility is pretty close to, if not on - par with that of the F-16. However, I'm not sure if it sports a "full" delta wing as you said, mainly cuz I don't know what a full delta wing is, lol. Is it just a normal delta wing, with the triangular shape, or somethin' else? Clarification would be greatly appreciated. :)

    Payload - I wasn't taken the Super Hornet for granted just because it had fewer hardpoints. I just didn't really see the Super Hornet as being able to lift as much off the ground as the F-16XL, especially when considering that engineers would probably have made at least two of those new hardpoints capable of toting a Mk. 84. Of course, that was just a guess, but thanks to your verification, I was right.

    Finally, I wasn't tryin' to imply that you ever said something crazy, such as the the F-15E's 2 engines are more maintainable than the F-16XL's 1 engine. I was actually just bringing up another point to be included in our debate, the issue of maintainability. Of course, the Super Hornet is a completely different plane all - together from the F-15E, but the point that I was trying to make is that one of the things better about the F-16XL than both the F-15E and Super Hornet is that, at the very least in terms of engines, it is probably more easily maintained. That's all. I wasn't trying to insult your intelligence or anything like that.

    Oh yes, and I know that all you read on the internet can't be taken serious. Shoot, I was tryin' to find the top speed for the F-16 once, and I got some crazy figures from various sites and books, ranging from 1,319 to as much as 1,500 mph. Obviously the latter figure is ludicrious, which just goes to show not all information can be trusted. As information pertains to you, however, I'm willing to trust you because I'm sure you shown me and anyone else who has looked at this thread that you indeed know very much about what you're talkin' about. As such, you DESERVE a certain level of respect and trust from me. Or at least, that's the way I feel and think it should be, :)
  •  08-26-2003, 3:04 PM 2346 in reply to 2345

    Re: Points Taken

    Hi

    Topspeed - If you compare the F16 vs F-16XL both with F-100-pw-200 engines the F-16 has a higher top speed. Why, I can't tell you.

    Manueverability - Yes, the Mirage 2000 is a Delta winged airplane and not a poor dogfighter at all. I would however pick an F-16 any day in a dogfight. The Delta winged Mirage 2000 has a higher instantaneous turn rate, but a lower sustained. The advantage in instantaneous turn rate is not enough to get a missile of the rail during the first 180 degree of turn (Neutral merge), so what really counts in a dogfight between the two is sustained turn rate.

    Payload - Yes, you were right

    Speed is always a hard one to compare since it all depends on altitude, temperature etc.
  •  08-26-2003, 7:49 PM 2347 in reply to 2346

    Gotcha

    Top Speed - The reason . . . I, like you run, don't really know, though now I can see why you would say that the wing profile has something to do with it. The F-16XL is probably a heavier aircraft all - around, even if extensive use of composites was incorporated into its wing. But you're right, a normal F-16 does appear to be faster. I guess the reason I thought the F-16XL would at least be as fast is because a great deal of effort was injected into improving its supersonic performance, and so I thought that naturally part of that would be making it a little faster. My bad. Oh, and you're right about speed, and it being hard to compare, which is probably why there are so many different top speeds for aircraft records. They really should establish a normal or "control" setting in which to test maximum speed, you know.

    Manueverability - Ok, part of what you said is exactly what I thought. I'm glad though that you enlightened me to the difference between instantaneous turn rate and sustained turn rate. I can see how sustained turn rate would be more important in a dogfight. Now the question arises in my mind, what wing would have the best instantaneous and sustained turn rate? Let me guess, the "perfect" wing, right? Lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, j/k.

    Well run, thanks to your substantial efforts, I am now just that much more educated. However, you never did answer the original question, did ya? You broke it down into categories, but never flat out said which one is better. So, when all is said and done, which plane would you be leaning towards more in terms of being able to take on the most different types of missions with the greatest relative ease? Which is the better multi - role fighter?

    P.S. - Isn't that so sad, it took me long enough, but I've finally just went straight to the heart of the issue. No deliberation, no discussion, just which one would you immediately assume to be better and why? Ah, life can be so simple can't it; just leave it to me to make it complicated for others. My apologies. :)
  •  11-29-2004, 1:33 PM 2688 in reply to 2308

    F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    This is a poor comparison because of the big difference in these two aircraft.  Here are some numbers to help you understand the huge difference between these two fighters  (all the units are in pounds)

    F-16XL:
     empty wt: 20,631
     Max T/O wt: 32,073
     Max internal fuel: 7,116
     max weapon load with max internal fuel: 4,326

    F-18E:
     empty wt: 32,080
     Max T/O wt: 66,000
     Max internal fuel: 14,008
     max weapon load with max internal fuel: 19,912

    And just for comparison purposes

    F-15E
     empty wt: 32,000
     Max T/O wt: 81,000
     Max internal fuel: 13,123
     max weapon load with max internal fuel: 24,500

    Some points to ponder:
     Payload has NOTHING to do with the number of hardpoints
     F-18E & F-15E EMPTY wt is essentially the same as F-16 MAXIMUM wt
     F-18E & F-15E carry about twice the internal fuel as F-16

    F-15E with conformal fuel tanks can carry an additional 9400 lbs fuel (71% more)

    Max combat radius depends HEAVILY on the weapon load out, not only in terms of weight, but also in terms of the drag of each weapon.  You cannot compare published max range figures because this is usually the max ferry range, ie max internal and external fuel, no weapons, and landing and refueling at the destination.  In combat you must use radius because you are obviously not going to land and refuel at the destination and the combat radius depends heavily on the load out.

    F-16XL was not a "delta wing" aircraft.  It had a "cranked arrow" wing, which is a very heavily modified delta wing.  It was also  equipped with leading edge sucking to maintain laminar flow.  It worked well until the microscopic suction holes got clogged, which in the real world was VERY often.  In other words, a great idea on paper and in a clean lab, but a lousy idea in the real, operational  world where  airplanes get dirty.

    Consider that any early US and Russian fighter aircraft had delta wings.  Both the US and Russia have abaondoned the delta in their last TWO generations of fighter aircraft.  The Europeans have stuck to that wing planform, but attempted to improve their characteristics with the addition of canards in the Typhoon and Rafale.  Among other things, delta wings have high drag rise with increasing angle of attack (AOA).  AOA is by definition high in any high G maneuver.  The result is that deltas quickly lose speed in any turn, so sustained turn rate suffers.  In addition, this places the fighter in a low Q (low energy state) condition in situations which require high loading (G), and for combat fighters, low Q is death in most combat situations.

  •  11-29-2004, 5:48 PM 2689 in reply to 2688

    Re: F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    Don't know where you got those F-16XL numbers, but they are way of. Those numbers looks more like standard Blok 15 numbers.

    The XL had a max T/O weight of 48000 and carried 80% more fuel internally, so closer to 13000 internal fuel.

    Payload significantly larger than what you are listing.

    Regarding fuel and max T/O weight and reange - I can't imagine a scenario in todays world where you wouldn't get tipped of by a tanker after T/O before going on with your business.
  •  12-01-2004, 1:35 PM 2692 in reply to 2689

    Re: F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    I got my numbers from Jane's.  I'll double check to see if I referenced the wrong data.

    >>"Regarding fuel and max T/O weight and reange - I can't imagine a scenario in todays world where you wouldn't get tipped of by a tanker after T/O before going on with your business."<<

    Going above max takeoff weight would put the aircraft into an overweight condition, which severely restricts g loading, bank angle, and AOA, among many others.  Look at the numbers for empty weight, max T/O weight, and max internal fuel.  Start with empty weight, add max fuel weight, and what's left is the payload you can carry.  If you takeoff with a big payload and half fuel to stay at max T/O wt, and then top off those tanks after takeoff, you're in an overweight regime, which you REALLY want to avoid in combat.  It MIGHT be accepted for a ferry flight, but that requires MAJCOM approval, something you're unlikely to get.

  •  12-01-2004, 2:18 PM 2693 in reply to 2692

    Re: F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    I am not talking about an overweight situation. Max weight and max T/O weight is not necessaryly the same. Don't know what the case is in the XL.
    Just because you are heavy when you start your mission doesn't mean you are going to be heavy when you encounter enemy fighters. Most times there are long transit times too and from the theater.

    If you need to dogfight (Which by the way is highly unlikely in todays world.) you just drop your external loads.

  •  12-01-2004, 3:50 PM 2696 in reply to 2692

    Re: F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    Here's some updated numbers on F-16XL

    F-16XL:
     Empty wt: 28,500
     Max T/O wt: 48,000
     Max internal fuel: 12,951
     Max weapon load with max internal fuel: 6,549

    Max weapon load is based on max T/O wt, minus empty wt, minus full fuel wt.  Weapon load can be traded for fuel load on a pound for pound basis till weapon load reaches 15,000 lbs.  (The XL's max external stores load is listed as 15,000 lbs, which can be a combination of weapons and/or external fuel)

    The F-16E (formerly F-16C block 60) which is what the UAE will get (eventually) reportedly has a max T/O wt of 50,000 lbs.  Don't know yet what its empty weight is, but with conformal tanks as standard, it will have increased fuel capacity, so weapon load at max internal fuel may not change all that much.  In any event, it is approaching the weight class of the F-18C Hornet (56,000 lbs).

    The "E" model SuperHornet, unlike the "E" model Falcon is a physically larger aircraft.  Increasing the wt of the same size Falcon is going to increase wing loading, which is going to adversely affect performance and maneuverability when it is heavily loaded.  It also forced Lockheed to add conformal tanks and dorsal avionics pods to the aircraft, items not conducive to maintanability and which increase drag count.  The SuperHornet retains over 90% commonality with its predecessor while increasing internal avionics volume over 35% and internal fuel capacity over 33%, without having to resort to problematic conformal tanks and avionics pods.  So it seems to me the Navy took a better approach than the Air Force in scaling up its strike fighter.

    On the other hand, the XL's stretched fuselage and much larger wing would have addressed many of those same issues rather elegantly.  But testing showed the cranked arrow wing to have unusually high transonic drag rise.  It was pretty good subsonically and really good supersonically, but the aircraft had trouble accelerating through mach 1.  And that was clean.  Accelerating beyond mach 1 with external stores in level flight became rather problematic.  And the whole point of the XL design was to make the Falcon a better ground attack platform.



  •  12-01-2004, 4:22 PM 2697 in reply to 2693

    Re: F-16XL and F/A-18E comparison

    >>"I am not talking about an overweight situation. Max weight and max T/O weight is not necessaryly the same"<<

    Indeed they are not the same.  Max T/O weight is linked to max zero fuel wt, which is a basic aerodynamic/structural limitation of the airframe.  Exceed that, and you place lots of restrictions on the aircraft, including limiting g loading, bank angle, and AOA, critical parameters in any kind of maneuver.  These limitations are severe enough that exceeding T/O weight requires MAJCOM approval.  It's very rare for MAJCOM to grant that request, even in war time.

    If you're going to hit a tanker on your mission, you do it mid-mission, much closer to the target area.  You plan to fly to your prudent limit of endurance taking into account alternate landing sites plus some margin, and that's where you schedule your tanker rendezvous.  Better yet, you fly into the target area with fairly empty tanks and plan on hitting a tanker on the way OUT.

    But if every fighter had unlimited tanker support, no one would bother with increasing fuel capacity of fighters, and everyone is doing just that.  The truth of the matter is that there are only so many tankers available to go around, and those same tankers also service the large transports (like C-141, C-17, & C-5 which take a LOT of gas) as well as large sensor aircraft (like AWACS and JSTARS) and other command and control aircraft, all of which are rising in numbers, and all of which are operating more and more forward into the battle area, and all of which take LOTS of gas.

    >>"If you need to dogfight (Which by the way is highly unlikely in todays world.) you just drop your external loads."<<

    If you dump your weapon load before reaching your target, the enemy has already beat you without firing a shot.  That's the LAST thing you want to do.  DCM (defensive combat maneuvering) calls for some very aggressive piloting to avoid getting shot down while reaching the target with your payload.  And I'm talking here about ground fire as well as from enemy fighters, so aggressive maneuvers are NOT limited to air-to-air dog fight situations.

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