Fuel planning

Operating an F-16 on the ground or in the air - from the engine start sequence, over replacing a wing, to aerial refueling procedures
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boggy123

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 18:25

Hey guys,

How do you go about fuel planning in an F16? Does this get done meticulously during mission planning with a computer and do you take a fuel load based on mission duration or do you just fill the tanks and go?

How do you decide whether to take external tanks and which ones to take? Is it all dependent on tanker availability?

Thanks!
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tjodalv43

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 04:36

You’ll basically always take off with a fuel load of fuel, unlike folks in the MAF. As far as tanks and configs, that all depends on where you are and what your SQ is executing at that time. Different missions have different standard configs. For most missions, the only fuel really noted is Bingo, for when you’d need to RTB with recovery gas based on the conditions that day (VFR/IFR). This is generally based of known fuel burn rates and some standard assumptions for the configs the jets are in. If you’re doing a cross country or AOS though it gets very specific for range and burn rate based on exact data input into the planning software. That the only time a Viper pilot will really get into the weeds about fuel planning.
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boggy123

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 11:14

Thank you for replying! It's a very different mindset compared to the airline world I live in. For us fuel planning is one of the big factors when it comes to flight prep, reason being it's where we can save a lot of $$$$.

So would the mission planning software give you a good estimate of how much fuel you should have at each steerpoint and tell you when you should refuel (based on tanker availability?) ? Are you supposed to x-check your fuel at each steerpoint with you mission data card to check how much fuel you are supposed to have at the steerpoint?

Would you regularly crosscheck the CRUS page on the DED to make sure everything is going as planned?

Sorry for all the questions!
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tjodalv43

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 17:07

No worries, that’s literally what this forum is for.

The software is very accurate. You can plug in virtually every variable to get a very precise fuel calculation. Winds aloft are usually input for a worst case scenario to give an extra pad. You definitely regularly check your Range page to make sure you’re on track. Since the jet calculates how much fuel you’ll have at your selected steerpoint based on current fuel flow, it’s common to be 100s of miles from your destination and hear “what are you showing getting to steerpoint X with?” and if it’s a lot more than required and you don’t have a specific arrival window, speeding up.

Adding a tanker to the mix brings a lot more to mission planning, but big picture is flights are always planned so that if you get to the tanker, hook up and find out there’s a problem and you can’t get any gas you have sufficient fuel to make it to a suitable divert field. One possible exception is Hawaii/CONUS. I’ve never made that trip but there’s possibly a short time of blue water ops. Maybe someone who’s made that trip will chime in.

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