F-16 vs Mig-29 energy maneuverability from test report

Agreed, it will never be a fair fight but how would the F-16 match up against the ... ?
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gta4

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Unread post11 Feb 2018, 15:29

In this thread, I will use F-16's aerodynamic data (from test report) to do the following:
1) convert its maximum sustained G factor to 5000 m, Mach 0.9 (F-16's manual does not show this performance)
2) calculate its maximum SEP at sea level (F-16's manual does not show this performance)
3) and pit it against Mig-29, its all-time-rival (data from official Mig-29 aerodynamic manual, in Russian)

Calculation standard:
F-16C block 50, with pilot and 1174 kg fuel (which gives it the same after burner duration as a Mig-29A with 1500 kg fuel, as Mig's performance curve is given with 1500 kg fuel in its manual).
When comparing sustained g, both aircraft are clean. When comparing SEP, viper is equipped with 2 Sidewinders while Mig is clean, to make the result more convincing.

Total mass = 8734 kg (operational weight) + 1174 kg (fuel weight) + 120 kg (pilot) = 10033 kg.
block50 empty weight.jpg

(In F-16's manual there is another empty weight number saying 20000lbs but there is also a mark saying this number is not accurate enough for performance calculation, while 19261 lbs is used for performance calculation. So 19261 lb is used here.)
viper's drag polar is from AGARD CP-242 flight test report:
Correlation of F-16 aerodynamics and performance predictions with early flight test results, Webb, T.S., Kent, D.R., Webb, J.B.
and fulcrum's drag polar is from its aerodynamic manual.
(plotted in excel for clarity)
F16 vs Mig29 drag polar.jpg

Installed thrust is from HFFM data, simulated by Mav-JP and Raptor one:
ge129.JPG

With interpolation, it is easy to acquire the thrust at 5000m, M 0.9 to be 25834 lbs (11721 kg, 114870 N).

Sustained turn at 5000 m, M 0.9:

In sustained turn, thrust = drag:
114870 = 0.5 * Cd * density * speed^2 * wing area
where
density = 0.763 kg / m^3
speed = 288.47 m/s (0.9 mach at 5000 m)
wing area = 27.87 m^2 (300 square feet)
So:
Cd = 2 * 114870 / (density * speed^2 * wing area) = 0.135
The corresponding Cl from drag polar is 0.84. The required AOA is about 9 degree.
Lift / Drag = Cl / Cd = 0.84 / 0.135 = 6.222
Lift = 6.222 * Drag = 6.222 * thrust = 6.222 * 114870 = 714721.14 N
The normal contribution of thrust is
Thrust * sin(AOA) = 18042 N
Total normal force = 714721 + 18042 = 732763 N
Normal load factor = Total normal force / total mass / 9.8 = 732763 / 10033 / 9.8 = 7.45 g
Mig-29A 's manual shows a sustained load factor of 6.6g at M0.9, 5000m:
29 sustained at 5000m.jpg


A side product:
It is easy to verify that when both jets execute a 9G turn with ENGINES TURNED OFF, at the same altitude and speed, Fulcrum's energy bleeding rate is noticeably higher than the viper. This is due to the higher Lift/Drag benefited from viper's shape design.

SEP at sea level, M 0.9:
Sep = (thrust - drag) * speed / gravity
Where
thrust = 166742 N
drag = 0.5 * Cd0 * density * speed^2 *wing area
Cd0 = 0.025 (with 2 sidewinders)
density = 1.225 kg / m^3
speed = 0.9 * 340 = 306 m/s
wing area = 27.87 m^2
gravity = (mass + 2 sidewinders) * g = (10033 + 2*87) * 9.8 = 100028.6 N
Drag = 39618 N
Sep = (166742 - 39618) * 306 / 100028.6 = 388m /s > 1200 ft / s

Wait! Isn't this number too...ooo astonishing?
Let's verify it with F-16C block50's flight manual.
The closest configuration on the manual is 22000lbs, clean. Take a look at the left figure:
16 vs 29 sep.jpg

It can achieve 1200 ft /s while still maintaining a 7.5 deg / sec turn!Keep in mind, normally SEP only refers to straight line flight. It is a lot harder to achieve high SEP in a turn due to elevated drag. So our calculated straight line SEP (> 1200 ft /s) is verified.
By contrast, Mig-29A can only achieve 345m/s clean, and 330m/s with 2 R-60s (a small missile which is even smaller than sidewinder), both in straight line flight.
Conclusion:
F-16C block 50 has higher sustained G than Fulcrum A, and bleeds less energy in a high G turn, at medium altitude, subsonic to transonic regime. where dogfights are most likely to take place. Viper also has higher SEP in a turn than a Fulcrum in straight line flight!

We know Fulcrum is already pretty good especially in terms of SEP. It is even better than Su-35BM (check Su-35's official maneuverability data). However...
Last edited by gta4 on 12 Feb 2018, 00:45, edited 1 time in total.
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garrya

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Unread post11 Feb 2018, 17:01

gta4 wrote:1) convert its maximum sustained G factor to 5000 m, Mach 0.9 (F-16's manual does not show this performance)

I think maximum sustained load factor can be found on al doghouse plot
gta4 wrote:We know Fulcrum is already pretty good especially in terms of SEP. It is even better than Su-35BM (check Su-35's official maneuverability data). However...

How come, can you explain?
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marsavian

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Unread post12 Feb 2018, 12:14

From E-M diagrams the F-16A has the sustained 7+g performance at the height and weight you suggested. At full fuel weight and draggy the F-16C can do it too at 10K ft altitude which kind of all implies your calcs are on the money.
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Unread post12 Feb 2018, 13:42

Well that should be true because I also verified the sep data with your flight manual. They are pretty close.

By the way, drag index=50 means 6 amraams+pylons...
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Unread post13 Feb 2018, 14:42

garrya wrote:
gta4 wrote:1) convert its maximum sustained G factor to 5000 m, Mach 0.9 (F-16's manual does not show this performance)

I think maximum sustained load factor can be found on al doghouse plot
gta4 wrote:We know Fulcrum is already pretty good especially in terms of SEP. It is even better than Su-35BM (check Su-35's official maneuverability data). However...

How come, can you explain?


SEP value normally reaches its peak at Mach 0.9.
SU-35's aerodynamic efficiency at Mach 0.85-0.9 is significantly lower than Mig-29. The Oswald efficiency factor of Su27 is only 0.71, compared to Mig's 0.87.
Image
You can check the author's autobiography. It is the designer of Su25 and Su27/30.
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eloise

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Unread post13 Feb 2018, 17:57

gta4 wrote:
By the way, drag index=50 means 6 amraams+pylons...

F-16 with 6 AMRAAM has drag index around 40 because DI=0 included wing tip missiles already and wet pylons of 370 gals tank went with them
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 00:09

I would mention that in USAF service, the F-16 has normally done tactical strike, Wild Weasel, and mostly an air-to-surface mission posture in the air planning order, so likelihood of encountering Fulcrum is diminished as compared to the F-15C if looking at the past as an example.

In Israeli service, as well as some European partners, encountering the Fulcrum was more likely.

The German Luftwaffe F-4F perspective on them from the early days of converting over for exploitation once they reunified with East Germany concluded that Eastern Bloc pilots were nowhere near the standard of Western pilots in NATO, and that they would have had an advantage against them even in the F-4F due to training, radar work, communications, and missiles.

At least half of the East German MiG-29 pilots could not hack it in the Luftwaffe, as they were used to a GCI model and limited workload for developing their own SA and comms with each other like in the West.

There's an excellent interview with one of the German pilots who flew F-4F, MiG-29A, and Typhoon as a test pilot.
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 09:08

Not as technical as some of excellent post provided here but here is what some pilots had to say:

https://theaviationgeekclub.com/f-16-vs ... irst-time/
Below 200 knots, the MiG-29 has incredible nose-pointing capability down to below 100 knots. The F-16, however, enjoys an advantage in the 200 knot-plus regime. At higher speeds, we can power above them to go to the vertical. And our turn rate is significantly better. By being patient and by keeping airspeed up around 325 knots, an F-16 can bring the MiG-29 to its nose.....I expected better turning performance, the MiG-29 is not a continuous nine-g machine like the F-16.”......

The lack of the continuous nine-g capability of the Fulcrum instead, was due to the nature of the specification that brought to life the MiG-29, as explained by Capt. Oliver Prunk, then JG 73 operations officer. “The aircraft was not built for close-in dog fighting, though it is aerodynamically capable of it, the East Germans flew it as a point defense interceptor, like a MiG-21. They were not allowed to max perform the airplane, to explore its capabilities or their own capabilities. Sorties lasted about thirty minutes. The airplane was designed to scramble, jettison the tank, go supersonic, shoot its missiles, and go home.”


Curious, what does the pilot mean when he says the Mig-29 isn't a "continuous 9G airplane"

Other limitations were experienced when the centerline fuel tank was carried by the aircraft, such as the inability of the fighter to fly supersonic with the tank attached, an operational scenario that also limited the MiG-29 to four g’s when the tank had fuel remaining......


The experience confirmed what I knew about the MiG-29’s ability to turn and to fight in the phone booth. It is an awesome airplane in this regime. The awe, though, fades away after that first turn in. The biggest adrenaline rush was getting to that point. After that, I started evaluating it as a weapon.”
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 13:28

Could be this - the MiG-29G manual shows a structural design limit of 9G up to M0.85 and 7G over M0.85 to top speed under design weight.

"The aircraft was not built for close in dogfighting" - new one on me because the Russian sources don't agree.

Or this from Alexander Velovich worked at MiG (late 1970s/80s) on the MiG-29 dev program (Interview Code One 1993)

Velovich.JPG
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 14:44

basher54321 wrote:Could be this - the MiG-29G manual shows a structural design limit of 9G up to M0.85 and 7G over M0.85 to top speed under design weight.

"The aircraft was not built for close in dogfighting" - new one on me because the Russian sources don't agree.

Or this from Alexander Velovich worked at MiG (late 1970s/80s) on the MiG-29 dev program (Interview Code One 1993)

Velovich.JPG


The flight manual shows that Mig-29 does not meet its design philosophy.

F-16 sustains better climb rate in an ascending turn than Mig-29 in straight line climb.

Image

From Lt. Fred Clifton:

"Fulcrum pilots have enjoyed their most success with the HMS/Archer combination in one versus one training missions. In this sterile environment, where both aircraft start within visual range of each other, the MiG-29 has a great advantage. Not because it is more maneuverable than the F-16. That is most certainly not the case regardless of the claims of the Fulcrum’s manufacturer and numerous other misinformed propaganda sources. The weapon/sensor integration with the HMS and Archer makes close-in missile employment extremely easy for the Fulcrum’s pilot. My only one versus one fight against a MiG-29 (in something other than another MiG-29) was flown in an F-16 Block 52. This was done against a MiG-29 at Nellis AFB, Nevada. The F-16 outturned and out-powered the Fulcrum in every situation."
Last edited by gta4 on 30 Jun 2018, 14:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 14:46

Also from Lt Fred Clifton:

"If the F-16 pilot has the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and AIM-9X, the advantage is still with the Viper pilot as the off-boresight capability of the AIM-9X is significantly higher than the AA-11. If it comes down to a gun fight, I still give the advantage to the F-16. The F-16 sustains a high-g turn better than the MiG-29, has better outside visibility, is more responsive and easier to fly, rolls significantly faster and will out accelerate the MiG-29 like the Fulcrum was glued to the floor. The Fulcrum is a very sloppy-flying airplane. I'm not saying the Fulcrum is a push over; the Viper pilot needs to bring his A-game. The Fulcrum pilot better prosecute the merge pretty fast because he doesn't have the fuel to hang around very long.

While flying the F-16, I found the Su-27 to be a much more lethal BVR airplane with the exended-range AA-10C. The Flanker also has a very robust infrared search-and-track system that can also cause issues. You still have an advantage with the AMRAAM. You just have to be more cautious. In the visual fight, the Flanker is still impressive for an aircraft of its size. If the Su-27 is fairly heavyweight then it's a wallowing pig. If it has burned off some fuel, its nose-pointing ability a high angles of attack is impressive. So is its energy bleed off. If you can get him to give up some energy, I found it very beatable with the F-16. On the other hand, the Flanker is a lot like the F-15 - it's a maintenance nightmare."
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Unread post30 Jun 2018, 16:57

When the Ukrainians brought the MiG-29 to Edwards, my dad did some liaison/translation work for the exchange, even though he was one of the GS scientists/mathematicians/avionics engineers on the various CTFs at ED.

One of the points of feedback he heard from senior Edwards mechanics was that they were surprised to see the APU exhaust routed through the centerline tank in the rear.

On paper/stripped of realistic external stores, the MiG-29 looks great. In execution, it turned out to be very lackluster in many ways, but the choice to go with 2 engines really handicapped the design and hangs over the aircraft to the present.

The engines are much larger than a Hornet's, so the volumetric displacement from a lightweight airframe don't allow enough fuel to be carried to realize a good combat radius, which was an engineering and design compromise that was acceptable from the Soviet standpoint in the point defense fighter role, with hundreds of MiG-29s stationed all around the Soviet border periphery.

From every dispassionate and experienced analysis, the overall result is of a very lackluster fighter.

* The former East Germans and Bundeswehr preferred the Typhoon and F-16 over it.
* The experienced F-15/F-16 FWS graduates, Red Air, Instructor Pilots who converted to it preferred the F-15 and F-16 to it.
* The MiG-29's 40 year operational combat record is embarrassing to mention in conversations about it vs Western fighters, or its performance against the Su-27 in particular. Granted, they were seasoned Russian Su-27 veterans flying the Su-27 against the MiG-29 in the Ethiopian-Eritrean War, but after a 0 pk R27 BVR missile exchange from both sides, the Su-27 hunted down the MiG-29 in retreat like a dog.

Same thing happened in Yugoslavian war. MiG-29s hunted down like a dog by F-16C and F-16A MLU. Same thing happened in Desert Storm against F-15C, even when the MiG-29A was piloted by 8 year combat veteran Iraqi Mirage F1 pilots who survived an A2A environment up against F-14A/AWG-9/AIM-7/AIM-54/AIM-9, as well as F-4E/AIM-7/AIM-9, at the hands of Persians.

Persians are some of the more intellectually inclined people in the ME region, making some of the world's best doctors, scientists, lawyers, and pilots.

In 2018, why anyone would be having a conversation about the positive attributes of the MiG-29 seems to be one based on ignoring reality. The MiG design bureau, or whatever is left of them, should cease all further thought on the MiG-29, other than a case study in how not to build a lightweight fighter/multirole combat aircraft, especially for export.

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