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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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  •  12-01-2004, 6:04 PM 2698 in reply to 2697

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

     KenV wrote:


    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.



    [8-)] You would NEVER intentionally go into a target area with fairly empty tanks. The more fuel the better (We are talking Vipers here) You can always drop external tanks if need be and internal fuel doesn't hurt much.

     KenV wrote:


    >>"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.



    If you get to a merge (have to dogfight) you allready F***ed U*  and will in most cases have to drop your load. As a minimum you would drop your external tanks. Yes, your mission will suffer, but atleast your chances of killing the *** will be higher and you will fight another day.

    Hopefully you are fortunate enough to have ROE's that allow for BVR engagement and can take the dude out long range with your slammer.

     KenV wrote:


    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.



    Depending on your energy state you may also be put in a situation where you would have to get rid of you load during a ground fire situation, but normally a ground fire situation will not have the same requirements for sustainability as a dogfight situation, but it could !.
  •  12-02-2004, 12:10 AM 2699 in reply to 2698

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

    Just to clarify. When I talk about dogfight I mean a visual (merged) fight.
  •  12-02-2004, 1:28 PM 2702 in reply to 2698

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

    >>"You would NEVER intentionally go into a target area with fairly empty tanks. The more fuel the better.  You can always drop external tanks if need be."<<

    I'm not going to get into a pissing contest, but you're just plain wrong about that.  Every fighter manufacturer has multiple design missions they have to meet, and one or more of them is always a mission with only half full tanks at take off and no aerial refueling (AR).  Fighting at less than max fuel is not only common and routine, it is often required by the parameters of the mission.  It is common practice to arrive at the target with just enough fuel to complete the mission, egress, and then rendezvous with a tanker, plus some reserves.  Navy fighters routinely have just enough fuel to get to the target, complete the mission, egress, and then go "feet wet" (plus some reserves) on the assumption that they can hit a tanker once back over water.  In any event fighters very seldom tank just before getting to the target area and NEVER tank to max fuel just before going into the target area.

    Beyond that, most external fuel tanks today are not "drop" tanks as used in WW2 fighters.  They are much more complex and not intended to be jettisonned in combat.

    In addition, if you are forced to drop your tanks not in accordance with your mission plan, you are not going to have enough fuel to get home and quite probably not enough fuel to find and hit a tanker.  The bottom line is that if you could get by without the fuel in those tanks, you wouldn't go in with that fuel to begin with.  It would just be a liability.  The concept of "the more fuel the better" is only applicable when loitering and sometimes (but often not) in a ferry situation.  No one is going to loiter in a defended target area.  Not even airliners full of passengers takeoff with max fuel if it is not required.

    >>"If you get to a merge (have to dogfight) ) you allready F***ed U*"<<

    My point exactly.  DACM is designed to AVOID a merge, get you to the target, and get you there with all your weapons.  DACM requires AGGRESSIVE flying with high bank angles, high AOA, and lots of loading and unloading.  My point was that aggressive manuevers are NOT reserved for dog fighting.  And further, you do not want to enter a defended target area with an aircraft anywhere near max weight, and in fact, you want to be as light as you possibly can be and still get your mission accomplished and survive.

    >>"Depending on your energy state you may also be put in a situation where you would have to get rid of you load during a ground fire situation"<<

    There are many reasons why you might dump your weapon load.  But in EVERY case, you've aborted your mission and your adversary has essentially won that specific engagement.  If he can "put you in that situation" with a Cessna and a flare gun, or a Sukhoi fighter, or with a SAM, he has won.  The fact remains, dumping your weapon load is strictly an option of LAST resort.  The whole mind set of "I can always drop my load" indicates very poor planning because that kind of planning means I am planning to lose.
  •  12-03-2004, 10:36 AM 2708 in reply to 2702

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

     KenV wrote:
    >>" Navy fighters routinely have just enough fuel to get to the target, complete the mission, egress, and then go "feet wet" (plus some reserves) on the assumption that they can hit a tanker once back over water.  In any event fighters very seldom tank just before getting to the target area and NEVER tank to max fuel just before going into the target area.

    Obviously you don't know much about F-16 operation. Fuel is a major limfactor. You can't plan to the last drop !! Your fuel usage during the mission will greatly depend on the amount of engagements you will encounter. More fuel = more options.
    What is your background?

     KenV wrote:

    Beyond that, most external fuel tanks today are not "drop" tanks as used in WW2 fighters.  They are much more complex and not intended to be jettisonned in combat.


    What tanks are you refering to? We are talking about the F16 here and both the centerline and wing tanks are intended for drop if you get into a visual fight with an equal adversary.

     KenV wrote:

    My point exactly.  DACM is designed to AVOID a merge, get you to the target, and get you there with all your weapons.  DACM requires AGGRESSIVE flying with high bank angles, high AOA, and lots of loading and unloading.  My point was that aggressive manuevers are NOT reserved for dog fighting.  And further, you do not want to enter a defended target area with an aircraft anywhere near max weight, and in fact, you want to be as light as you possibly can be and still get your mission accomplished and survive.


    Weight in that respect is not going to be the major a lim factor for the F16 in DACM. More so the limitations of the external stores.

     KenV wrote:

    The whole mind set of "I can always drop my load" indicates very poor planning because that kind of planning means I am planning to lose.


    We are talking about a scenario gone wrong here where you get to a visual merge and in that situation it would be the correct thing to do. Of course we agree that you should avoid putting yourself in that situation, but filling an F16 with fuel is not going to make it more likely that a visual merge will happen because you are restricted in your DACM - Quite the contrary. There is no such thing as too much gas in an F16 Big Smile

  •  12-03-2004, 12:18 PM 2710 in reply to 2708

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

    >>"Weight in that respect is not going to be the major a lim factor for the F16 in DACM. More so the limitations of the external stores."<<

    Weight is usually THE limiting factor in any kind of manuevering.  External fuel tanks are designed to handle the same stresses as the aircraft.  Air-to-air weapons can also go to the max g loading of the aircraft.  With the high weights of an air-to-ground mission, the aircraft's g-loading is limited.  But all air-to-ground weapons can more than handle the aircraft's max g-loading when it is flying an air-to-ground mission.

    Keep in mind that wings are designed for up bending loads.  But hanging ordnance on the wing bends it down.  Pulling G with ordnance bends it down even more.  that is one BIG reason why the max landing weight is always MUCH lower that the max take of weight.  At takeoff, the aircraft weight is supported be the wing and the wing is producing lift and bending upward.  Upon landing, the landing gear supports the aircraft and all the inertia of the wing and the ordnance haning on it  causes down bending moment.  Hence, the landing wt restriction.

    >>"Your fuel usage during the mission will greatly depend on the amount of engagements you will encounter."<<

    1.  This thread was about the F-16XL being a superior ground attack platform, not a fighter plaltform.  That is a Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi mission that would be carefully mission planned to keep the fuel state during the Lo segments relatively low, and certainly would NOT be planned with a full bag of gas during the Lo segments.

    2.  Even flying CAP (combat air patrol), which can often involve lots of loitering, you don't plan on arriving on station with a full bag of gas.  You might take off with a full bag on the anticipation that you'll burn down before arriving on station.  But if you're flying a CAP mission, that means a pretty light weapon load, so even with a full bag of gas at takeoff, you're nowhere near max wt.

    3.  It is exceedingly rare to have multiple ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering, or "dogfighting") engagements and no one plans for that.  For that matter, in today's world (as you correctly pointed out) it is even rare to get into an ACM engagement at all, especially given the proliferation of BVR missiles.  ACM engagements are very high energy affairs and very violent, even when there are no shots fired.

    >>"What is your background?"<<

    Let's just say I have some operational and some design engineering experience with fighters.  My employer is the Boeing company.  My former employer is the US Navy.  Check out the "tactics" section and my reply to another poster asking about carrier landings and the Fresnel Lens system.  It'll give you an idea about my "background".
  •  12-03-2004, 3:01 PM 2716 in reply to 2710

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

     KenV wrote:
    Weight is usually THE limiting factor in any kind of manuevering.  External fuel tanks are designed to handle the same stresses as the aircraft.  Air-to-air weapons can also go to the max g loading of the aircraft. 

    Well, then I guess the F16 is unusual. Like I said earlier you don't know much about the F16. Both external tanks and air to ground weapons is restricting both G and maneuver capabilities.

     KenV wrote:

    With the high weights of an air-to-ground mission, the aircraft's g-loading is limited.  But all air-to-ground weapons can more than handle the aircraft's max g-loading when it is flying an air-to-ground mission.

    Nope!! Not the case with the F16. The problem is not the weapons themselves, but the stores/hardpoints they are carried on. They can't take the same stress. It is very easy to overstress them even given the high weight of the aircraft.

     KenV wrote:

    Keep in mind that wings are designed for up bending loads.  But hanging ordnance on the wing bends it down.  Pulling G with ordnance bends it down even more.  that is one BIG reason why the max landing weight is always MUCH lower that the max take of weight.  At takeoff, the aircraft weight is supported be the wing and the wing is producing lift and bending upward.  Upon landing, the landing gear supports the aircraft and all the inertia of the wing and the ordnance haning on it  causes down bending moment.  Hence, the landing wt restriction.

    Again the F16 is different. The F16 (Block 15 MLU) has the EXACT same maximum allowable GW for ground handling, taxi, takeoff, in flight, and landing (35,400 pounds)

     KenV wrote:
    1.  This thread was about the F-16XL being a superior ground attack platform, not a fighter plaltform.  That is a Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi mission that would be carefully mission planned to keep the fuel state during the Lo segments relatively low, and certainly would NOT be planned with a full bag of gas during the Lo segments.

    Even as an attack platform you will be better off with extra gas. If you get engaged and you have to kick around a threat or go max speed for an extended amount of time due to lost time defending you will be using a significant extra amount of gas.
    Besides Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi profiles are rare in todays world. Much safer to supress enemy sams and stay high during the entire mission.


     KenV wrote:
    2.  Even flying CAP (combat air patrol), which can often involve lots of loitering, you don't plan on arriving on station with a full bag of gas. 

    If you could you would, but of course you use something form the tanker to the FAOR. The more gas you have the longer you will be able to remain on station until you have to hit the tanker again.

     KenV wrote:
    It is exceedingly rare to have multiple ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering, or "dogfighting") engagements and no one plans for that.


    Just a single one can use a lot of gas Big Smile When you park that puppy in burner your fuel consumption is excessive. You can empty the F16 in less than 15 minutes if you wanted to for the fun of it.
    It is however not unheard of to be engaged several times by ground defence.

    RUN
  •  12-03-2004, 4:52 PM 2722 in reply to 2716

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

    >>"Nope!! Not the case with the F16. The problem is not the weapons themselves, but the stores they are carried on. They can't take the same stress. It is very easy to overstress them even given the high weight of the aircraft."<<

    Yowsa!!!  That makes for a lousy "strike" fighter in my opinion.  Your pylons are the weak link in the chain?!  What happens when you carry a Sparow or an AMRAAM on a wing station?  Are you g limited due to the pylon?  What about a Mk 82 or heaven forbid a Mk 84 bomb on the wing?  Are you G limited due to the pylon?

    >>"Again the F16 is different. The F16 (Block 15 MLU) has the EXACT same maximum allowable GW for ground handling, taxi, takeoff, in flight, and landing (35,400 pounds)"<<

    Interesting.  The F-16C blocks 25 thru 32 must be different.  Per the dash 1 (T.O 1F-16C-1) section 5, Operating Limitations, the max T/O wt is 41,890 lbs and max landing wt is 37,500 lbs.  I don't have the applicable dash 1 for the block 40 and 50 F-16s, but my understanding is that the max T/O wt is increased, but the max landing wt remains at 37,500.  The block 60 (aka F-16E) is supposed to go all the way up to 50,000 lbs for T/O, with the same 37,500 lb max landing wt.  The landing gear and brakes have been beefed up to handle the extra wt, but the wing can still only handle so much down bending moment.

    I'm more famiiliar with Navy fighters, which have very different max takeoff and max landing wts.  But EVERY landing in a Navy fighter is a "hard landing" so I guess that's understandable.  Navy fighters also don't have pylons with G restrictions.  I guess that comes from being able to be catapulted off the carrier with a max load.  But the max landing wt limitation can be a real problem in the Navy.  It reduces "bring back."  To get back aboard the carrier, early Hornets too often had to jettison unexpended munitions.  One of the big selling points of the SuperHornet was a doubling of the "bring back". 
  •  12-03-2004, 9:16 PM 2723 in reply to 2722

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

     KenV wrote:
     Yowsa!!!  That makes for a lousy "strike" fighter in my opinion. 

    That wasn't the initial intend with the Viper either, but to say it is a "lousy" strike fighter because of this one thing is a little unfair. The limitations, which is on the hardpoints, does not make it much worse in a BVR engagement. The hardpoints of later block versions most likely can take higher loads.

  •  12-06-2004, 11:50 AM 2724 in reply to 2723

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



    >>"The limitations, which is on the hardpoints, does not make it much worse in a BVR engagement."<<

    Agreed.  But even when carrying BVR missiles, most fighters also carry a 'winder and a gun in the event of a visual engagement.  It sounds to me that if these early F-16s are carrying a BVR missile or any kind of bomb load, the options (in the event of either ACM or DACM) are to restrict maneuvering, overload the pylon, or jettison the load, all of which are (in my opinion) lousy options.  But my opinion is based on decades of operational training and experience which may not be applicable in the environment you and others find yourselves in.  US Navy air warfare doctrine may be very different than your's.  On the otherhand, the US Navy can arguably be thought of as having invented the "strike fighter" concept.  So perhaps that may indeed be applicable in a discussion of F-16XL vs F-18E.

    >>"but to say it is a "lousy" strike fighter because of this one thing is a little unfair"<<

    If your maneuver envelope is restricted because of a weak pylon, I'd consider that a serious design flaw.  But you neverthless make a good point.  The F-16 was not designed as a strike platform, so from that perspective it is not a flaw at all.  For that matter, early F-16s could not even carry BVR missiles.  They were strictly a visual air-to-air platform, the quintessential dog fighter.  (That may even be true of the Danish F-16s pre MLU)  The F-16 is what we in the US call a real "Air Force" airplane, overly optimized for the dog fight.  The last "dog fighter" the Navy bought was the F8F Bearcat, which entered the inventory at the end of WW2.  (Although the F-8 Crusader was arguably pretty close to being a dog fighter).  Too bad that dog fighting kind of went the way of the dinosaurs.  But it is a testament to the inherent good design of the F-16 that it has been successfully adapted for other roles.  But if adaptability is the yard stick, then the YF-17 was probably the better design.  The YF-17 became the Hornet, which from the very beginning was the F/A-18.  The Hornet was designed as a strike platform from day one.

    As good as the bacis F-16 design is, no matter how good the basic design, it has its limitations.  Just because the F-16 CAN be pushed to a 50,000 lb gross T/O weight, and CAN be equipped with conformal tanks and avionics pods does not mean it's a "good" idea.  It may be a cheap idea relative to the options (some would call it "cost effective"), but that does not necessarily mean it's a good idea.  So far, USAF has resisted buying block 50 and block 60 F-16s, although there are moves afoot to back-fit some block 50 and 60 systems into the USAF's block 40 F-16s.  But there are political reasons why this may never happen.  Just as the F-15 was never equipped with the newer more powerful engines and an AESA radar to protect the F-22, USAF F-16s may never get them to protect the F-35.  But who knows?

    But to get back to the original topic of this thread.  Comparing the F-16XL to the F-18E and and even the F-15E as strike aircraft is not a good comparison.  They are different class aircraft.  Maybe it would be like comparing the Mosquito to the Spitfire in the ground attack role.
  •  12-06-2004, 3:02 PM 2726 in reply to 2724

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

     KenV wrote:

    Agreed.  But even when carrying BVR missiles, most fighters also carry a 'winder and a gun in the event of a visual engagement.  It sounds to me that if these early F-16s are carrying a BVR missile or any kind of bomb load, the options (in the event of either ACM or DACM) are to restrict maneuvering, overload the pylon, or jettison the load,.


    No need to drop your load in  a BVR engagement. I am just talking about a visual fight. Like you said BVR stuff also calls for aggresive manuvering, but we are not talking 9 G's.
  •  12-06-2004, 6:14 PM 2728 in reply to 2726

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

    >>"No need to drop your load in  a BVR engagement. I am just talking about a visual fight."<<

    That's what I was talking about also.  If an early F-16 is armed with a Sparrow and the fight for whatever reason goes visual, he has to dump his Sparrow?  Sounds like a bad way to do business to me.  But again, I'm seeing this from a rather narrow perspective.  The US Navy is the only air force operating fighters off carriers, so my persepective is probably kind of skewed.  In a different operating environment, this might make perfect sense.
  •  12-07-2004, 12:21 AM 2730 in reply to 2728

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

    No, we are just talking about air to ground load. Our Slammers and AIM9s does not limit the aircraft to that exend.
  •  01-25-2005, 7:12 PM 2780 in reply to 2308

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

    Quote: 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.

    I'm a little late coming into the discussion, I know, and forgive me for bringing a seemingly dead topic back to life..but..the reason the XL is slower than the F-16A-E is..to put simply..drag..the XL does *not* have a delta wing design..it's a cranked arrow design, meaning it intentionally was made to look like an arrowhead...I'm not trying to be a smartalec here, please don't take it that way..this cranked arrow design is also called a 'double delta' design, hypothetically it's not meant to inhibit the turn radius of the airframe, the F-16 can pull a max of 9g's at around 400-450kts, that's it's max turn speed, anything above or below that and you'll not achieve max turn radius, the F-16C's top speed (block42+) is Mach 2.02, not Mach 2.05 due to the modifications added on, the weight was increased, the speed reduced, the first F-16's (A and B) could both achieve Mach 2.05, but what purpose would this serve? It's breakaway speed, boom and zoom tactics is all that's for gentlemen, extend and break away from a furball, then reengage as necessary. The F-16 has been described as 99% boredom and 1% excitement in terms of useage, meaning things are redundant when flying it. The XL was given better stability to increase it's ability as a 'mud mover'. The F-16 as is, is already a superior dogfighter, there's very few things on the planet that can keep up with it, with BVR now added to it's already impressive and formidable weaponry, it's simply ten times better. It can already hold 90% of the U.S Weapons inventory. It can accept parts from 75% of any aircraft in our inventory, it's cheaply produced, and has a ferry range greater than that of the F/A-18. Now that I've praised the '16 to the high heavens, lemme give ya a tidbit of information on the so called "Super Hornet". They interviewed a bunch of Hornet pilots that flew against the Super Hornet pilots, one guy said "I felt ashamed for them, we out flew them, out fought them, out bombed them, out ran them, AND we ran them out of gas". Gentlemen, that single statement right there proves that the "Super Hornet" is not only a waste of this nation's finacial resources, but it places us as a whole in serious danger, they wanna replace the Tomcat with something slower, less capable, and more expensive. The F-16 would out perform a F/A-18 any day, as for the "Super Hornet"? The F-16 laughs at it with a sad shake of it's head so to speak, I see a need for the Hornet, I honestly do, but the Super Hornet is a waste of space, if anything they should have built Tomcat21, but that's an entirely different discussion for an entirely different thread.
  •  03-11-2005, 10:21 AM 2830 in reply to 2780

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

    Without getting into a lot of details, lets just say I have a lot of current experience in the F/A-18C.  NAS Lemoore (the Navy's west coast master jet base and its largest) has a few operational F/A-18E/F squadrons now.  Every single pilot I know still flying F/A-18C/D wants to fly the new Super Hornet.  We all lust for it.

    Many lust MORE for the Super Tomcat, but as you said, that's another story entirely.

  •  03-23-2005, 12:08 AM 2857 in reply to 2830

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

    I've never been a Hornet fan Ken, but that's simply personal preference, I'll not discount the fact though, that the F/A-18 is good at what it does, I'll never deny it credit that's due. And while it's a moot point to compare the XL to the F/A-18E/F..the XL'll never be produced unless the JSF falls flat on it's V/Stol nozzle. But It's definitely interesting to compare the two..the Hornet's instaturn versus the F-16's sustained turn. My cousin and I have this debate all the time, I own Jane's USAF upgraded to be a bit more realistic..if only people could watch how those battles turn out. I'd like to say one thing though..and while unfortunately all of my F-16 experiance comes from various Simulators... (Falcon 4.0 being my favorite and the most realistic)...replacing the F-14 with the Super Hornet wasn't a very wise decision, the '14 is faster, and it carries that 100+nm weapon, the grand ole AIM-54 Phoenix. Should we ever get into an air battle with our carriers, it'd not take much to send in a couple squads of the newest Flankers and MiGs, and put any Carrier group in serious jeopardy, this situation could easily be resolved with the '14 and the AIM-54, as far as I know, the Super Hornet is lacking any pylons to lug that monster mach five missile around.
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