Article - F-16 versus MiG-29 Fulcrum

Agreed, it will never be a fair fight but how would the F-16 match up against the ... ?
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DeepSpace

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Unread post04 Dec 2004, 10:52

From http://www.hostultra.com/~migalley/mig29_f16.html


Both the F-16 and the MiG-29 were designed to correct mistakes and shortcomings of previous aircraft. With the USAF it was the low kill ratios over Vietnam as well as the lack of complete air superiority over the battle field a feat that was achieved with great success both over the battlefield's of Europe and Korea where the US Army was able to operate under little threat of air attack. With the Russians they wanted an aircraft that would perform the same roles as the MiG-25 and the Su-27 but at a shorter range. As well as an aircraft that for the first time could match Western fighters in ACM, while maintaining the ability to operate as an interceptor. Thus the MiG-29 became a smaller and shorter range F-15 while the F-16 became a larger and longer range F-5. Both teams designed craft that were cleared to operations of 9g and made use of wing-body blending to increase internal volume , reduce weight and improve maneuverability. They both located the intakes close to structures to reduce the AoA (angle of attack) sensed at the face of the intake/s thus increasing the AoA that the aircraft could take in comparison to other aircraft of their day. With the F-16A the AoA limit is 25deg where as the MiG-29 has been cleared of an AoA of up to 45deg.

One of the major differences was in the engine arrangement with the General Dynamics team choosing a single P&W F100 this gave commonality with the F-15 and lower fuel consumption. In contrast the Mikoyan team choose a twin arrangement of the RD-33 with no thought give to using the Saturn/Lyulka AL-31F as used in the Su-27. The reasoning being that the use of two engines gave the aircraft greater survivability as the MiG-23/27's suffered a greater attrition ratio then the MiG-25. With the intakes the GD team adopted a fixed geometry intake as high mach number capability was not required for the role that the F-16 was to fill, while the requirement for a dash speed of mach 2.3+ led Mikoyan to adopt a two dimensional , four shock , variable geometry intake with one fixed ramp and two moving ramps.

In regard to FOD (foreign object damage) the GD team took the position that FOD would not be a problem as the F-16 would operate form swept, paved runways. Where as the Russians felt that a rough field capability was an important capability and as such devised two movable ramps over the intakes to prevent FOD while on the ground or at low speed at low level. When the intakes are closed the engines breath via auxiliary intakes on the upper surface of the wing. The F-16 has incorporated a number of features that are intended to enhance combat effectiveness. The pilot's seat is inclined at 30deg rather than the normal 13deg , he also has a side stick controller which allows the pilots arm to be supported this has not met with universal approval as some pilots prefer to be able to fly with either hand. The F-16 also for the first time incorporated a Fly-By-Wire flight control system, this allowed the aircraft to be made inherently unstable and would greatly improve maneuverability in air-combat. While the MiG introduced the first HMS (helmet-mounted sight) and IRST (infra-red search and track) sensor with a laser range finder for passive attacks and missile engagements up to 45deg off-borsight but maintained a conventional flight control system and achieved high maneuverability mainly due advanced aerodynamics. i.e. The tail of the MiG-29 is said to have been positioned to take advantage of the four vortices by the wing and fuselage.

In combat provided that the MiG-29's 7.5g above 0.85 mach can be avoided it should beat any F-16 due to its BVR capability , higher thrust/weight ratio and lower wing loading. While in recent exercises between USAF F-16 and German MiG-29A's showed that in ACM the greatest advantage the MiG-29 had was it's helmet mounted sight coupled with the AA-11 Archer which gives it a kill zone greater than any aircraft serving. F-16 pilots found that any aircraft within 45deg's of the nose of a MiG-29 was always under grave threat. The ability to target aircraft well of boresight has proved to be such a success that helmet mounted sights have become requirements on any new fighter program.

While both aircraft have short-commings those of the MiG-29 have effectively been solved with newer versions ( MiG-29 S/M/K and MiG-33 ) which have increased the fuel capacity of the MiG as well as adding an in-flight refueling system. The number of hard points has also been increased by two and the max warload has been doubled, along with the inclusion of a fly-by-wire flight control system and a new radar that allowed two targets to be engaged simultaneously with the new AA-12 Adder active radar missile as well as full clearance for flight at 9 g's . Most of these upgrades have been offered to current users of the MiG-29 with the Russian and Indian airforces conducting some upgrades. The F-16 by comparison has had few of it's problems solved in the past few years. One of it's greatest drawbacks the lack of a BVR capability was solved with the clearance of the AMRAAM for use on the F-16 but the second major problem of insufficient wing area on the F-16C has never been solved.
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Unread post03 Feb 2005, 08:05

DeepSpace wrote:Both the F-16 and the MiG-29 were designed to correct mistakes and shortcomings of previous aircraft.


These were not mistakes but rather what the available technology would permit in the design in third genreation aircraft, one must keep things in perspective. The F-4 Phantom 2, Mig.-21 and, MiG.-23 all saw their original service in the late 1950's to mid-1960's. One thing the Soviets discovered during the Viet Nam Conflict was that the MiG.-21 did not have what it took to "dis-engage" from a dogfight if the oponent wanted to continue to fight! So one of the things of which the MiG.-29 was designed to do was to dis-engage from a dogfight.

The F-16 was an effort to make a low cost fighter pushed by the "light weight fighter mafia." When the F-14 and F-15 first came out the price tag was high, you get what you pay for. In price reduction no dicussion of increasing the production rate, second sourcing parts of the entire project to have two or more vendors.

The F-14A was been built at a rate of 2½ aircraft per month. Electron beam welding of the wing box was the bottle neck. There was only one vacuum chamber that could do this job. There is little or no efficiency in building aircraft at this slow rate.

The Soviets/Russians are envious of the F-16 for it is the only fourth generation aircraft they can not build! Their attemp was the MiG.-29 but, it was too heavy for one dependable engine so, they had to use two smaller engines. Yes there was a lot of talk about the desire for two engines for reliability but, the real reason was the mission capability could NOT be designed into a small enough package for one high performance "fuel efficient" engine to make it all work.

the Russians they wanted an aircraft that would perform the same roles as the MiG-25 and the Su-27 but at a shorter range.


The MiG.-29 was designed and completed before the Su-27. The Su-27 contract was signed in 1969 (just like the F-14 & F-15) but, did not become operational until 1988! By that time the MiG.-29 had started after the American F-16 and F/A-18 were operational and the MiG.-29 became operational in 1986. The jury was still out on the Su-27 when the MiG.-29's design was completed. The MiG.-29 is a "point defense" fighter much like the MiG.-21.

While the MiG introduced the first HMS (helmet-mounted sight)

The first aircraft with HMDS was the AH-64 Apache! It was a project started by the IDF/AF and the USAF! The USAF lost interest and dropped out but, the US Army took the information completed by the USAF and developed the the Apache's HMDS.

missile engagements up to 45deg off-boresight

The trade off at that time was a narrow boresight but long range IR detection or high off boresite and shorter range detection.

in recent exercises between USAF F-16 and German MiG-29A's showed that in ACM the greatest advantage the MiG-29 had was it's helmet mounted sight coupled with the AA-11 Archer

The F-16's from Aviano AFB, Italy and the US Navy's experience in Operation Red October exercises with the Luftwaffe's MiG.-29's (at Laage, Germany) showed, while the HMDS can be dangerous..... it is not an "end all be all!" There are tactics to get around the HMDS just as there are tactics to get around BVR combat. One F/A-18 pilot on just the third day of the two week syllabus got a "gun's kill" on a MiG.-29! It is a matter of tactics. By the end of the exercises the US pilots respected the MiG.-29 but did not fear it!!

the second major problem of insufficient wing area on the F-16C has never been solved

The heavy wing loading can be a problem at the higher altitudes above 30,000 feet.

Adrian
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Unread post03 Feb 2005, 11:45

Quote:
in recent exercises between USAF F-16 and German MiG-29A's showed that in ACM the greatest advantage the MiG-29 had was it's helmet mounted sight coupled with the AA-11 Archer

The F-16's from Aviano AFB, Italy and the US Navy's experience in Operation Red October exercises with the Luftwaffe's MiG.-29's (at Laage, Germany) showed, while the HMDS can be dangerous..... it is not an "end all be all!" There are tactics to get around the HMDS just as there are tactics to get around BVR combat. One F/A-18 pilot on just the third day of the two week syllabus got a "gun's kill" on a MiG.-29! It is a matter of tactics. By the end of the exercises the US pilots respected the MiG.-29 but did not fear it!!


Quote:
the second major problem of insufficient wing area on the F-16C has never been solved

The heavy wing loading can be a problem at the higher altitudes above 30,000 feet.

Adrian


There is a report of a german MiG-29 pilot. In an exercise against Block 50s he was able to fire 11 times on F-16s until they scored a possible hit on him. The report was posted before. Keep in mind german MiG-29s engines were derated by 10%.
WVR abilities of late F-16s are questionable.

Same with the wingload, the airframe is simply too small, empty weight raised to 9000kg, which compromises the jet.
Even it maintains it 9g turns at low alt. things look different at higher alt. F-16 is reported to bleed much energy in tight turns, due its higher weight and therefore the higher AOA. Furthermire it is restricted to 25°AOA, together with the high wingload hamperes its turning capability. The contemporary designs MiG-29 and Mirage2000 are clearly better in dogfighting.

BVR is a matter of avionics, so therefore it is fair to compare the airframes only, avionics may be changed or upgraded.

In my opinion F-16 has reached the end of its development and those Block 60s with CFTs are more likely bombers than fighters.
just wonder why its successor the F-35 does not have F-16s excellence in terms of AirCombat, the F-16 had when it was introduced...
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Unread post01 Apr 2005, 14:48

If the Mig-29 is "better" at dogfighting, then why hasen't it ever scored a kill? :wink:

I personally think that dogfighting depends on the pilot's skill rather than the aircraft.
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Unread post01 Apr 2005, 17:42

I personally think that dogfighting depends on the pilot's skill rather than the aircraft.


Exactly. If that F 16 pilot was driving the Mig 29, the F 16 might of been toast. Russian fighters are extremely capable jets. But only if the pilots skill is sufficient enough to use that 29/27/30/etc. To its fullest potential. Pilots are very important in these combat scenarios.

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Unread post03 May 2005, 22:41

Overall MiG-29 is a far better fighter of the F-16. It was a newer design though and did not have as good A2G capability. Te Soviets had allways used dedicated aircraft for every role when they had this enormous production capability. Newer F-16s are BVR interseptors and attack aircraft. The same is MiG-29M a Russian version of a Soviet design. Mach 2.35 and 1.2 T/W ratio is SOMEW numbers. 8)
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Unread post21 Feb 2006, 02:34

agilefalcon16e wrote:If the Mig-29 is "better" at dogfighting, then why hasen't it ever scored a kill?

The answer to that question is rather simple, no country using the weapon system is using it the way it was designed to be used by the Soviet designers. The possible exception would be India.
In a NATO/WP conflict, the MiG.-29 would have done its job well. "IF" the Soviets had supported the MiG.-29 the way they did the MiG.-21 or 23, the MiG.-29 would have been evaluated as a higher threat. The financial collaps is not something that happened in 1988/89, financial cuts to the Soviet AF started with the reduction of pilot's flying time back in the 1984/85 time frame! The first attempts to keep pilot proficiency up was to increase the simulator time.


nikos wrote:Overall MiG-29 is a far better fighter of the F-16. It was a newer design

I disagree with the first statement but, that is subjective until aggressor pilots fly both aircraft in many exercises.
As for the statement that the MiG.-29 was a newer design is incorrect. The Soviet Union knew about the USAF wanting a lightweight before the fly-off of the YF-16 and YF-17. The MiG.-29 program got started around this time but, it took many years to develope due to problems that needed to overcome. (The Su-27, F-14 and, F-15 all started in 1969!)
The F-16A is closer to what the Soviet AF wanted when the need for a lightweight fighter was put forth. Look at the MiG.-21 and compare it to the F-16 versus the MiG.-29. The F-16A is very light in weight/size, single engine, etc.. Soviet avionics and engines being less efficient are the reason the MiG.-29 is larger with less range. The MiG.-29 did not have in-flight refueling because it was not designed for power projection.

Mikoyan chief test pilot Valery Menitsky in an interview while attending a symposium in 1989 at the University of Michigan, when asked which American fighter would he like to fly said, "I would like to fly the F-16C. In the USSR we have made many types of aircraft for many different missions but, the F-16C is the lightest of the fourth generation and extremely maneuverable. In my opinion the F-16C is the "formula one racer" of the newer aircraft."

Adrian
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Unread post21 Feb 2006, 16:38

ok, if you're going to say that the Mig-29 is better than the 16 because of the HMS, then I'll submit that the JHMCS/AIM-9X puts the 16 over the top. If we're talking WVR without HMS, then I'd still take the Viper because of the ease of avionics use over the 29. Finally, if you take that out of the equation, then I'd still take the Viper because...well it just looks cooler...and if you like the Mig-29 so much then go to Mig-29.net not F-16.net
...and anything else is rubbish
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Unread post23 Feb 2006, 15:37

CheckSix - Go talk to the guys who went to Poland to fight the Fulcrums that had HMS. And these were Blk 30s. Lets just say there is quite a bit of guns tracks from day one on.
Harrumph!!!
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Unread post23 Feb 2006, 21:05

MiG-29- Cockpit switchology that is inferior to the F-16.

Less viewing area out of the cockpit. This possibly even contributed to the downing of 2 Syrian MiG-29s by two IDF F-15s around the time frame of 911. Both sides here had HOBS Heaters.... just that the MiG-29s just didn't seem to be good at visual skill, either through fault of their own or limitations of rear ( ish ) viewing from a MiG-29.

Mediocre BVR originally with the R-27 ( nice clock in the cockpit though :lol: )

Air to ground kit. Not so hot. Even the new M2 setup while good is behind the times. RuTech still has not fielded an effective jet that can do A2G - and A2A effectively something the F-18A and F-16A did...... for years...... with a ONE MAN COCKPIT with a smooth and almost effortless cockpit workload.

Maintenance procedure- Any F-4 crewchiefs around? :o

Probably better combat survivability with the MiG-29. I have seen more than a few F-18s bashed up to hell and back from mid-airs that would have sent the F-16 guy walking home.

Less combat range- 2 engines are nice, especially if one quits but the combat range can suddenly become a bingo fuel issue quickly if you are not careful.

However I am sure the real pilots here would tell you it is a lethal aircraft to go up against. I like a lot of things about it but the maintenance procedure thingy would turn me off big time... having seen F-16 and F-18 ops.


----- F-16

-Anything that is written here by the real people that fly them and maintain them. :lol:

-Bang for the buck... however the one engine thing still bothers me some but the rest of it is impressive.

-Turning to the nth degree? Not as big a deal these days with our HOBs heaters... however remember that even in the coldwar days.... the AIM-9L was very very good. I wouldn't want to face a head on where the other guy had those things. You may have a R73.... but you are going to eat some "Lima's" like it or not.

-Cockpit visability- Not much to beat it

-Switchology- Advantage F-16.

----- Those two by themselves are enough to kill well.

-A2G.... the best day air to ground bomber ever and it has the trophys and the shock value ( its first appearance in a Nato tac bomb comp ) to prove it. Try and suit up a MiG-29 to do the same air to ground work we did in Allied Force 1999 ( and we don't even do A2G that way any more...) and you come up with more problems than solutions.
- ELP -
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Unread post24 Feb 2006, 00:46

elp wrote:MiG-29- Cockpit switchology that is inferior to the F-16.

Less viewing area out of the cockpit. This possibly even contributed to the downing of 2 Syrian MiG-29s by two IDF F-15s around the time frame of 911. Both sides here had HOBS Heaters.... just that the MiG-29s just didn
Less viewing area out of the cockpit. This possibly even contributed to the downing of 2 Syrian MiG-29s by two IDF F-15s around the time frame of 911. Both sides here had HOBS Heaters.... just that the MiG-29s just didn't seem to be good at visual skill, either through fault of their own or limitations of rear ( ish ) viewing from a MiG-29.


I thought that Israel/Syria story was a morale booster after 911, and that the same Syrian opposition party recycled it a few more times in the years since then.

The newer versions of the Fulcrum are moving towards a more modern cockpit, glass panels rather than endless dials and switches, but their new hunchback (to increase the fuel capacity) will still leave cockpit visibility problems I suppose.
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Unread post27 Feb 2006, 16:03

About the two engine issue
elp wrote:
2 engines are nice, especially if one quits

I've seen this in all other threads abut the MiG-29 compared to the Viper. To keep it short fact is that the second engine is there for power not safety. Time and again 29s with one engine flamed out have crashed, at least 5 were caught on tape:
-Paris 89-it could be argued that it was at min speed low alt and high AoA
-Kecskemet 2005(Hungary) -same story the plane was in level flight not at min speed and about 1000 feet alt-still wasn't controllable on one engine
-I've seen three aborted takeoffs on tape due to one engine failing or just loosing max thrust-planes had to be crashed back on the runway, gear up

My country's air force had 4 MiG-29 crashed from 1990-2003, three of them due to one engine failing (1 UB at take off, 1UB and one A model in flight) The crews of the latter two died (3 pilots total) because they believed they could bring the planes back on one engine...
29s just aren't flyable on one engine - maybe the new MiG-29M2 with the smokeless engine is a different story-but that's only a prototype as of now...
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Unread post27 Feb 2006, 16:52

Another legend: the rough runway capability: FOD doors are not as effective as many of you think: there is a small space on top of the lower part of the intakes where dirt, pebbles and other stuff accumulate being thrown by the front wheels. When the FOD doors lift (inwards inside the intake) all that stuff goes into the engines. They tried to solve this by adding fenders to the front wheels (the ones parrothead was asking about in another thread) but still FOD occurs to the engines.

Here is a detailed (even if long and not so new) study on the 29: http://www.saunalahti.fi/~fta/MiG-29.htm . I respectfully recommend everyone to read it before posting in the MiG-29 vs F-16 threads.

Don't get me wrong, I love the 29, I've seen it performing its wild maneuvers more than once and nothing compares to a Fulcrum in full afterburner taking off at less than 50 meters (150 feet) away and immediately enter a vertical climb (like the Eagle). But its combat effectiveness, reliability and man-machine interface are just poor compared to the Viper. The later variants: K, SMT and M2 are a different story but as I've said before they are not in production.
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Unread post28 Feb 2006, 03:56

The Japanese version of the F-16 has enlarged wings to correct the high wing-loading problem.
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Unread post28 Feb 2006, 10:06

The F-2 (Japanese version of the F-16) has a lot of problems with wing cracks so they solved that problem (wing loading) only by creating a bigger one!
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