F-35 vs. F-16 performance - RNoAF pilot explains

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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energo

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Unread post23 Apr 2015, 17:46

A RNoAF test pilot accociated with the F-35-program (and whom I've had the pleassure to speak to a number of times) recently blogged about the facets of modern air combat and made a few comparisons of the performances of the two jets. Thought I'd share the main points on that particular issue and translate a few quotes. It's probably an idea to keep in mind that this is a comparison based on the RNoAF F-16MLU and the F-35 Full Mission Simulator. The 2011 Libya campaign forms the backdrop. And don't forget to read the whole article. :thumb:

Main points:

- Depending on the mission, the F-35 enjoys a 30-70 percent higher combat radius
- In Libya, operating from Crete, F-16 typically had to refuel several times - the F-35 would have done the whole mission without refueling

- In a similar full combat configuration F-35 cruises comfortably 10-15000 feet higher in MIL power than the F-16
- F-35 has a 50-80 kts higher cruising speed in this scenario
- F-16 needs full AB in order to turn at high altitude whereas F-35 can operate in MIL
- F-16 has to use AB to gain speed to extend missile range where as the F-35 cruises higher and faster and thus doesn't need to [though I'm sure it could be useful]


Modern air combat; The Right Stuff, Top Gun or something else entirely?
https://translate.google.com/translate? ... t-annet%2F


https://translate.google.com/translate? ... edit-text=
To fly an F-16 with 2.5 tons of weapons [and fuel] under the wings as the Norwegian F-16s did during the Libya operations, Hanche compares to using an underpowered car to pull a caravan up a steep slope.

You're actually completely dependent on full afterburner to be able to turn at high altitude. Before we even reached our destination, it was necessary to refuel in the air twice on the trip between Crete and Tripoli, he said.

[...]

F-35 would have taken the entire weapons load inside the hull without much noticable reduction in performances and would have flown the entire mission without air refueling. "





/Bolsøy
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Unread post23 Apr 2015, 19:11

Thanks

Spaz also did a PDF of the top gun blog:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=27186&start=60
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sergei

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Unread post23 Apr 2015, 23:22

energo wrote:A RNoAF test pilot accociated with the F-35-program (and whom I've had the pleassure to speak to a number of times) recently blogged about the facets of modern air combat and made a few comparisons of the performances of the two jets. Thought I'd share the main points on that particular issue and translate a few quotes. It's probably an idea to keep in mind that this is a comparison based on the RNoAF F-16MLU and the F-35 Full Mission Simulator. The 2011 Libya campaign forms the backdrop. And don't forget to read the whole article. :thumb:

Main points:

- Depending on the mission, the F-35 enjoys a 30-70 percent higher combat radius
- In Libya, operating from Crete, F-16 typically had to refuel several times - the F-35 would have done the whole mission without refueling

- In a similar full combat configuration F-35 cruises comfortably 10-15000 feet higher in MIL power than the F-16
- F-35 has a 50-80 kts higher cruising speed in this scenario
- F-16 needs full AB in order to turn at high altitude whereas F-35 can operate in MIL
- F-16 has to use AB to gain speed to extend missile range where as the F-35 cruises higher and faster and thus doesn't need to [though I'm sure it could be useful]


Modern air combat; The Right Stuff, Top Gun or something else entirely?
https://translate.google.com/translate? ... t-annet%2F


https://translate.google.com/translate? ... edit-text=
To fly an F-16 with 2.5 tons of weapons [and fuel] under the wings as the Norwegian F-16s did during the Libya operations, Hanche compares to using an underpowered car to pull a caravan up a steep slope.

You're actually completely dependent on full afterburner to be able to turn at high altitude. Before we even reached our destination, it was necessary to refuel in the air twice on the trip between Crete and Tripoli, he said.

[...]

F-35 would have taken the entire weapons load inside the hull without much noticable reduction in performances and would have flown the entire mission without air refueling. "





/Bolsøy


"In a similar full combat configuration F-35 cruises comfortably 10-15000 feet higher in MIL power "
F35 is bigger and heavy then F16 of course the same weight has less effect on.
"50-80 kts higher"
Very Big advance:)
"entire weapons load" it have 6 hardpoint internal ?
"extend missile range __________ F35 doesn't "

And how much higher will range from missiles at a speed of more to 50kts F16 ? 2-5 km ?
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 00:56

50-80 knots is an additional Mach 0.15 at about 30,000ft. The idea behind what the pilot is saying is that if an F-16 is cruising at Mach 0.8 and detects an enemy just coming into the range of their missile, they'll use the afterburner to get up to about Mach 0.95 and fire. They could go supersonic and fire, but due to the sound barrier hill that'll take them a while, during which they would have covered some 20km just getting to the other side of the sound barrier let alone up to a decent supersonic speed. With an F-35 cruising at Mach 0.95, as soon as it detects an enemy, it can fire it's missile if it desires, or again, if they really want to go faster, they can (and potentially faster than the F-16 depending on load out).
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 01:36

The ability to fire first from a longer distance avoiding the use of reheat to minimize IR signature. Smart way to fight.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 04:50

sergei wrote:"In a similar full combat configuration F-35 cruises comfortably 10-15000 feet higher in MIL power "
F35 is bigger and heavy then F16 of course the same weight has less effect on.
"50-80 kts higher"
Very Big advance:)
"entire weapons load" it have 6 hardpoint internal ?
"extend missile range __________ F35 doesn't "

And how much higher will range from missiles at a speed of more to 50kts F16 ? 2-5 km ?


In a similar FULL combat configuration, meaning both aircraft are full load, the F-35 would still weigh more. If a f-35 is on a full loud out compared to a F-16 it's hauling more fuel and similar combat loads, and it can do so higher and faster, for longer. As others have said the 80 knots seems small, except that adds up on a four hour flight to be 320 nautical miles further in range in the same time. The entire weapons load on a F-16 for a strike mission with two tanks leaves them with 4 combat capable hard points usually. The F-35 doesn't have to have external tanks and has it's targeting equipment built in. The F-35 has shown the ability to super cruise in testing as well, if its at mach.95 it can choose to launch it's missiles then or it has the option to quickly go supersonic(something the F-16 doesn't have the option of when loaded for strike missions) with some afterburner launch missiles then maintain supersonic to either continue engagement or leave the airspace. So compared to a F-16 or F-18 strike mission it will launch missiles from higher altitudes while going faster therefore adding range to the missiles, same concept the F-22 uses just not the same numbers.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 06:26

I'd really like to hear from our aerodynamics experts what this information really means regarding F-35 aerodynamics. I think it confirms that F-35 gets a lot of lift from its body (effective wing loading is low) and also a benefit you get from internal weapon and fuel carriage (low drag).
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 07:19

It also helps that the F-35's performance is only slightly impeded by carrying full fuel and stores. The only real increase in drag that the F-35 suffers is a little more induced drag and pressure drag from having to slightly raise the angle of attack that its wings are exposed to. Since the F-35 is a heavy fighter even sans any payload that means that giving it two 2k pound bombs isn't going to result in much of percentage increase in weight. This not only means lower drag but also less of a difference in energy bled when making turns (between an empty Lightning and a Lightning with weapons load of course) so the F-35 doesn't need to use its afterburner to recover kinetic energy like the F-16 does under the same circumstances. One of my engineering profs once said that aircraft static margins are always designed to increase as a result of adding weapons payloads so it's possible the F-35's maneuverability isn't that adversely affected from carrying around its ordnance since 2K pound bombs might not be enough to significantly alter the position of the center of gravity.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 07:27

The F-35 just has a fuckton of military thrust for a single engine, that's all it is, especially at altitude, thrust.

F-35 is 29k with 18.5k fuel and 5k weapons on 28k thrust = 0.53 mil thurst

F-16 is 18.9k with 7.2k fuel + 5K fuel in tanks +1k for tanks + 5k bombs/missiles(+.5k for pylons) on 17.15k thrust = 0.46 mil thrust.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 08:38

hornetfinn wrote:I'd really like to hear from our aerodynamics experts what this information really means regarding F-35 aerodynamics. I think it confirms that F-35 gets a lot of lift from its body (effective wing loading is low) and also a benefit you get from internal weapon and fuel carriage (low drag).



Mach: Transonic,
AOA: 14 degrees,
Inlet mass flow: 0.57
LEF: 20 degrees,
TEF: 0 degrees,
Reynolds number: 2x10^6 per ft.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 08:44

eskodas wrote:The F-35 just has a fuckton of military thrust for a single engine, that's all it is, especially at altitude, thrust.

F-35 is 29k with 18.5k fuel and 5k weapons on 28k thrust = 0.53 mil thurst

F-16 is 18.9k with 7.2k fuel + 5K fuel in tanks +1k for tanks + 5k bombs/missiles(+.5k for pylons) on 17.15k thrust = 0.46 mil thrust.


Well, the F135 is desperately needed for something as heavy as an F-35. It's the prerequisite for the F-35 to actually have the ability to perform air combat maneuvering and not be like the F-111. Drag and weight also matter every bit as much as specific excess thrust and specific excess power are crucial figures in the energy game.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 08:48

I agree. In configuration with 2 2,000lb bombs (or equal) and 2 AMRAAMs (or equals), targeting system and full internal fuel load, F-35A very closely matches the dry T/W ratio and fuel fraction of F-15E an Su-35. It does have somewhat lower T/W ratio in full AB though. Of course it more than likely has the lowest thrust to drag ratio.No wonder F-16 seems rather sluggish in comparison in the same situation. IMO, that's very impressive given F-35 VLO stealth, internal weapons carriage and much more comprehensive equipment kit.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 14:18

geforcerfx wrote:
sergei wrote:"In a similar full combat configuration F-35 cruises comfortably 10-15000 feet higher in MIL power "
F35 is bigger and heavy then F16 of course the same weight has less effect on.
"50-80 kts higher"
Very Big advance:)
"entire weapons load" it have 6 hardpoint internal ?
"extend missile range __________ F35 doesn't "

And how much higher will range from missiles at a speed of more to 50kts F16 ? 2-5 km ?


In a similar FULL combat configuration, meaning both aircraft are full load, the F-35 would still weigh more. If a f-35 is on a full loud out compared to a F-16 it's hauling more fuel and similar combat loads, and it can do so higher and faster, for longer. As others have said the 80 knots seems small, except that adds up on a four hour flight to be 320 nautical miles further in range in the same time. The entire weapons load on a F-16 for a strike mission with two tanks leaves them with 4 combat capable hard points usually. The F-35 doesn't have to have external tanks and has it's targeting equipment built in. The F-35 has shown the ability to super cruise in testing as well, if its at mach.95 it can choose to launch it's missiles then or it has the option to quickly go supersonic(something the F-16 doesn't have the option of when loaded for strike missions) with some afterburner launch missiles then maintain supersonic to either continue engagement or leave the airspace. So compared to a F-16 or F-18 strike mission it will launch missiles from higher altitudes while going faster therefore adding range to the missiles, same concept the F-22 uses just not the same numbers.


" FULL combat configuration, meaning both aircraft are full load"
F-35A
max weight: 70,000 lb
wing loading 152 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 28,000 lb , aft 43,000 lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.4 , aft 0.614
F16
max weight: 42,300 lb
wing loading 141 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 17,155 lb , aft 29,000lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.405 aft 0.685

F35 may have a greater velocity but the worst acceleration and manoeuvrability.
Which means that it will reach the same speed as F16 late and the bonus range will be less than you described.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 15:51

sergei wrote:" FULL combat configuration, meaning both aircraft are full load"
F-35A
max weight: 70,000 lb
wing loading 152 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 28,000 lb , aft 43,000 lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.4 , aft 0.614
F16
max weight: 42,300 lb
wing loading 141 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 17,155 lb , aft 29,000lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.405 aft 0.685

F35 may have a greater velocity but the worst acceleration and manoeuvrability.
Which means that it will reach the same speed as F16 late and the bonus range will be less than you described.



That is their max take off weight not their full combat configuration.

Again this depends on a scenario, imagine a combat scenario where the target is 500 nautical miles away,

The F-35A has an unrefueled combat radius of 613 nautical miles on full internal fuel.

The F-16C Block 50 on the otherhand has an unrefueled combat radius of around 360 miles with a 3,000 pound war load and flying in hi-lo-hi flight profile, which is needed, because the F-16 is not stealthy.

The F-35 on the other hand can simply fly hi-hi-hi and maximize her fuel.


So before reaching combat the F-16 needs to refuel or it needs to carry additional fuel in the form of external fuel tanks, you do know that F-16s are not allowed to go into combat without External fuel tanks right? they are required to always carry EFTs.

Once in combat the F-16 will have more fuel in percentage terms than the F-35.

This is why comparing 2 airplanes with the same percentage fuel figures is a flawed analysis.

According to the F-16.net versions page an air-air configured F-16 weighs 26,463 (not armed to the weight limit as you stated)
Thrust to weight ratio will be: 1.095
Wing loading will be: 88.21 lbs/ square feet

An F-35 in A-A configuration could weigh at around 38,300 lbs to match the range of the F-16C above (360 miles), considering the F-16 had a full load of fuel. and 4 A-A missiles.

that would put the F-35's
T/W ratio at: 1.12
Wing loading: 83.26.
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Unread post24 Apr 2015, 17:12

sergei wrote:" FULL combat configuration, meaning both aircraft are full load"
F-35A
max weight: 70,000 lb
wing loading 152 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 28,000 lb , aft 43,000 lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.4 , aft 0.614
F16
max weight: 42,300 lb
wing loading 141 lbs/sq feet
Thrust: dry 17,155 lb , aft 29,000lbs
Thrust to weight: dry 0.405 aft 0.685

F35 may have a greater velocity but the worst acceleration and manoeuvrability.
Which means that it will reach the same speed as F16 late and the bonus range will be less than you described.


If the F-35 ever go to war with at max take-off weight it means there are close to zero chance of meeting any threats, so as long as it can make it to the target, hit the right target, and then make it back, that is all that counts. In this case the F-35 can carry an impressive load of weapons, definitely not matched by any F-16.

If, on the other hand, it is flying stealthy it matches or surpasses basically anything out there. Not to mention the support organisation the others would need, like tankers and jammers etc, that the F-35 would need less of.
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