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

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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XanderCrews

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Unread post08 May 2016, 03:51

I've said it before and I'll say it again if you thought people hated the F-35 before, wait until it succeeds!
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Unread post08 May 2016, 21:59

I read an article about the norwegian pilots, planes and training at Luke AFB in a nowegian magazine. I'm currently in the process of translating it so I can post it here, with the authors blessing. He even mailed me the original .pdf file with pictures and text. Will post that as well. It will take a couple days as it's taking time to translate. Nice pictures and some insight into norwegian pilots training and how the plane is to fly in air to air combat. I just needed to try to do this since this forum and you guys on it, has given me so much.

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Unread post08 May 2016, 23:35

langbein wrote:I read an article about the norwegian pilots, planes and training at Luke AFB in a nowegian magazine. I'm currently in the process of translating it so I can post it here, with the authors blessing. He even mailed me the original .pdf file with pictures and text. Will post that as well. It will take a couple days as it's taking time to translate. Nice pictures and some insight into norwegian pilots training and how the plane is to fly in air to air combat. I just needed to try to do this since this forum and you guys on it, has given me so much.

Morten


Can't wait. :notworthy:
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krorvik

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Unread post09 May 2016, 07:18

If possible, the norwegian text would also be good :wink:
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Unread post09 May 2016, 12:10

les_paul59 wrote:@accessdenied, the f-35 is a STRIKE fighter, you know jSf stands for joint strike fighter. So yes I think that it's range, speed and maneuverability is relevant when carrying lots of fuel and 2 2k jdams compared to other jets. By the way the f-16 has never been an air superiority platform for the usaf, no matter how much sprey would like it to be. It has for the majority of it's life been strapped with bombs, tanks and pods.


This is very true. Many people seem to have the idea that maneuverability and performance is only needed for air-to-air combat. Tell that to pilots who have gone against real enemy air defences in air-to-ground configurations.

If we think about the normal air-to-ground configuration of F-35, it has truly unique performance, maneuverability and range compared to any current or foreseeable aircraft. F-35A has two 2,000 lbs class weapons or 8 SDBs, two AMRAAMs and targeting pod. AFAIK, in that configuration it's a 9G, Mach 1.6, 50 degree AoA aircraft with well over 600 nm combat radius. AFAIK, no other aircraft is even close in those configurations. F-22 can't carry similar loadout and even Dassault Rafale is only 5.5G, 20 degree AoA, subsonic aircraft in equal configuration. Maybe some F-15E variant might be capable of some of that. Even if F-35 wasn't VLO aircraft and had legacy fighter signatures, it'd be pretty damn impressive strike aircraft given maneuverability, performance, range and avionics. I'd say i'd be impressive performer even if it had 4 gen avionics.

les_paul59 wrote:The f-35 isn't a world-beater in a clean configuration, like most 4th gen jets are. But when the f-35 shines, is when it counts, which is when it's strapped with weapons and a meaningful amount of fuel to go destroy heavily defended targets.


Some 4th gen fighters can equal or even better some performance metrics of F-35 in light air-to-air configurations where there are no EFTs (dropped or not used at all).

Of course it also depends on what is used for comparison. F-35B has no real competition as it's the only STOVL game in the town and is by far superior to Harrier it replaces in every way (performance, avionics, payload, range, not to mention stealth). F-35C is also superior to every single carrier aircraft in pretty much every way. Only real competitors are Rafale M and Super Hornet and neither is superior even in light loadings.

It seems like F-35A has pretty impressive performance even in light air-to-air loadings. Mach 1.6 top speed, 9G and 50 degree AoA capability is nothing to sneeze at. F-22 is naturally superior and EF Typhoon might be in some loadings without EFTs. Typhoon certainly supercruises faster than F-35 but has inferior AoA capability. Both are significantly inferior in air-to-ground and other multi-role capabilities. It's impressive that EF Typhoon needs 3 EFTs to get even close to F-35A range and it also needs to drop them to equal the performance in air-to-air combat loadings. F-35A has both the range and performance all the time. Then we can start talking about avionics and stealth after that...

Of course this is what knowledgeable people have been saying for at least a decade. F-35A in combat will have very close to same performance it has in basic training or airshows. 4th gen aircraft do not.

les_paul59 wrote:The whole point of carrying bombs is to actually make it to the target and destroy the target. 4th gen jets would drop their tanks and air to ground ordinance if they had to enter an air to air engagement. The f-35 will simply avoid the target via low observability or take "long amraam shots" from the shadows, and continue towards the target. So I'm pretty sure it will have enough fuel considering it's estimated "end of life" combat radius without the advent engine is 600 miles with a full internal weapons load.


I think in combat situation some F-35s are tasked for air-to-ground and some to air-to-air with suitable weapons loadouts. Even air-to-ground loaded F-35 would be dangerous as it still carries two AMRAAMs and has high performance while being tough to detect, track and engage.
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Unread post09 May 2016, 23:33

langbein wrote:I read an article about the norwegian pilots, planes and training at Luke AFB in a nowegian magazine. I'm currently in the process of translating it so I can post it here, with the authors blessing. He even mailed me the original .pdf file with pictures and text. Will post that as well. It will take a couple days as it's taking time to translate. Nice pictures and some insight into norwegian pilots training and how the plane is to fly in air to air combat. I just needed to try to do this since this forum and you guys on it, has given me so much.

Morten


Morten,

Just want to make sure you don't duplicate the effort of ENERGO. He did translate an article from milforum and it is available if you go back one page in this thread.

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Unread post09 May 2016, 23:44

hornetfinn wrote:I think in combat situation some F-35s are tasked for air-to-ground and some to air-to-air with suitable weapons loadouts. Even air-to-ground loaded F-35 would be dangerous as it still carries two AMRAAMs and has high performance while being tough to detect, track and engage.


Yup, somehow it doesn't sink into some that there will be more than one F-35 in the air... Too many Chuck Norris films, It's wolfpack tactics not lone wolf McQuade.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
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Unread post10 May 2016, 15:46

@krorvik:

The .pdf will contain the original text in norwegian

@lamoey:

Don't think it's related. This article comes from "Vi Menn". I have a few errands to run and then I'll get back to translating. Hopefully finish tonight and post.

Nice name by the way :mrgreen:

MVH,

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Unread post10 May 2016, 15:57

I saw that article - but I really don't like some (well most) of the other stuff in that mag, so I hoped someone else would be able to post at least exerpts here ;)

Yay!
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Unread post10 May 2016, 16:51

Btw goofy, work is much appreciated :)
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Unread post10 May 2016, 19:51

popcorn wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:I think in combat situation some F-35s are tasked for air-to-ground and some to air-to-air with suitable weapons loadouts. Even air-to-ground loaded F-35 would be dangerous as it still carries two AMRAAMs and has high performance while being tough to detect, track and engage.


Yup, somehow it doesn't sink into some that there will be more than one F-35 in the air... Too many Chuck Norris films, It's wolfpack tactics not lone wolf McQuade.


When you compare the planes, will F-16s normally even fly with more than 4 AMRAAM? And if they do what do they give up for load out? This will be helpful on compareing the 2
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Unread post10 May 2016, 23:23

ive seen a lot of pictures of f-16's with 2 tanks 4 amraam and 2 aim 9's
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Unread post11 May 2016, 21:50

Testing of the F-35 in air combat manouvers, article in “Vi Menn” (Norwegian mens magazine, directly translated to “Us Men”

I read this article a little while back and thought it would be a nice contribution to this forum. My initial idea was to translate the text and scan the images, but not without permission. So I sent an email to the author to get his approval. Thankfully he said yes and even gave me the original .pdf of the story. Text (norwegian) and pictures from: Haakon Bonafede. Many thanks!

So now I'm going to translate the text, the pictures are in the .pdf (maybe someone can upload them on here from the .pdf, I'm not that good with computers). I'm also going to write the text that go with the pictures in Norwegian and in English so you can see what pictures they relate to. Sorry for any wrong spelling, I'm doing this without any spell check (just google from time to time), and there might be some technical terms I get wrong. Well, here goes!


F-35 pilot Morten “Dolby” Hanche has been dealt a bad starting point before the air battle begins. He's being hunted by his opponents at he edge of visual range. Far enough away that he must use his planes sensors, but near enough to force the “ninja-technique” necessary to win a WVR (within visual range) fight.
The target is to stay hidden and attack from a concealed position. The other F-35's plays the role of aggressors. They have to mimic potential enemy planes. The sensor package on the planes is so advanced that they have to take measures to limit them. The enemy has gotten a hint as to where Hanche is, but they don't follow him with their sensors.
The “ninja-technique” Hanche chooses is brutal and seems almost wreckless to an outsider, and in stark contrast to the critique that the F-35 can't dogfight.
-When we begin I'm “only” doing 400kts, says Hanche.
-I purposely make a hard turn towards “Red Air” in full afterburner, so hard I loose speed. Such a hard turn can be felt physically, because the high AOA (angle of attack) makes the plane shake somewhat – a bit like driving fast on an old gravel road.
It's still easy to control and it's no problem getting back up to speed. After just a short time the plane is supesonic so that I can fire the missile at about mach 1,2. It's important to have speed and altitude when firing missiles, for the same reason a spear thrower would never try a throw without a run up.


Angular
Far away from home (Norway), in a base in the desert on the outskirts of Phoneix in Arizona, the two first Norwegian F-35 is based. They're not slim and slender like their predecessor the F-16. The shape is angular like a big 4wd car. The belly is bulbous to be able to carry the weapon load internally, and the whole machine looks aggressive like a guard dog even when the tires are tied down between the blocks.
The pilot inspecting the airframe before he climbs up the built in ladder to the cockpit is somewhat of a contrast to the plane. Lieutenant Colonel Martin “Tintin” Tesli is by no means big, but a soberly guy who always has a smile lurking. He got his call sign because his “helmethair” gave him the same hairstyle as the cartoon character.Now he's in charge of the Norwegian unit at Luke AFB. His job is to find out what the F-35 can do in a fight, and teach it to the rest of the RNoAF's pilots as the F-16 is phased out.
The plane is the most sophisticated fighter ever built so far. According to several sources the plane is as visible to radar as a golf ball and impossible to detect from far away. Top speed is mach 1,6 and in addition to it's 25mm machinegun, it can carry radar guided missiles that can shoot down enemy airplanes long before they know someone is in the air with them. Also it can carry two GPS guided 2000 pound bombs in it's weaponbays and 4 laser guided bombs under it's wings if stealth is not needed.
Even so, it's the sensor capability, the ability to analyze all the data and share the information with air and ground units that impresses the most. From the future QRA-base at Evenes planes on standby can fly all the way to Svalbard and back without refueling. They can watch the whole electromagnetic spectrum to get full control of what's going on oveer and on the Norwegian sea without being detected. And use force or relay targeting data to e.g. a frigate if necessary.

The 100th mission
With 25 and 50 hours between them, “Tintin” and his partner “Dolby” is relatively new in the fighters which is Norway's most expensive weapons buy ever. But they are also the country's most experienced. With a background as fighter pilots they are a part of writing the new handbook on tactics for modern air combat based on own experience with the plane. According to them it's superior to the F-16 in every way.
-Everything I miss from the F-16 is for nostalgic reasons. The more I fly, the more privileged I feel, says “Dolby”, who's going up to fly air combat with “Tintin” and two american pilots. Before Christmas he was the first norwegian who flew the F-35, and this is a new milestone with the 100th mission for the first Norwegian F-35.
“Tintin” has arranged it so that this happens as we are visiting. Norwegian, american and australian pilots share the planes as they are available, so this time it's important that he gets the “right” plane. The fact that it's “dolby”'s name on the plane “tintin”'s flying dosn't matter as much.
“We train the World's best F-35 and F-16 fighter pilots” it says modestly on one of the signs at the base entry. On the walls of the brand new squadron building with a deck overlooking a line of parked planes protected from the sun, it says “357 kills and counting”
62nd Fighter Squadron got it's baptism of fire over Europe in 1944, and continued to shoot down enemies in both Korea and Vietnam. Now the 144 F-16 planes on the base is gradually replaced with the same number of F-35's. For RNoAF 2017 will be a milestone when the first F-35s is flown home for operational testing under Norwegian conditions. In 2019 the first planes will take over after the workhorse F-16 at Ørland.
“Tintin” has already patted “Spike” ceremoniously on the head before he gets out on the warm concrete outside the squadron building. The squadron mascot - a bulldog drawn by Walt Disney – is everywhere. On the walls, the shoulder patches and engine covers. The miniature mascot sitting on the counter where the pilots are leaving the building is to make sure they return with undamaged planes. All squadron meetings is started and ended with a forceful “SPIKE!” to keep up with traditions and build unity.

Classified
-No pictures head on without the engine covers on. No pictures of the cockpit, demands the base PR lady. Her task is to protect the top secret parts of the plane against curious eyes. -And don't go closer than five meters, she adds.
The grey machine with Norwegian emblems symbolizes not only a US guarantee of supremacy in the air, it's also our most expensive defence investment ever. For the full package of 52 planes and equipment, the average prize is about a billion Nok per plane.
While “Tintin” fires up the engine and the plane's computer systems, I recall the conversation we had the day before. Morten Hanche, who had the first flight, said he had some thoughts in the beginning about how expensive the plane was. -But you just have to rationalize that away. The plane is so expensive that you can't think about it. If you do you won't dare to fly it, he explains.
But the F-35 is not perfect. While the four pilots that are going up together are doing their checklists, Hanche turns off the engine, exits the plane and fires up the reserve. Probably a bug in the software. But the serious critique of the F-35's dogfighting capabillities has been put to shame lately. Especially the claim that it is inferior to the 4th generation F-16. According to the norwegian pilots, the critique is wrongly based on an evaluation of a single test flight where tactics were being developed. As the plane is designed to deliver weapons at a distance it's not especially developed to dogfight.
-Still, everybody is surprised at how good it manouvers. I hadn't expected it to be so aggressive in dogfights, “Tintin” says.

Superior in dogfights
They elaborate on the experience after one and a half hour of dogfight-training, one on one over White Tank Mountains, the training are west of the base.
The roar of the engines is unmistakable as they return. It's the most powerful engine in any fighter ever and will be noticed well when stationed at Ørland in Norway. “Tintin” is sweating after the maneuvers, and his helmet-hair gets damper when he comes out of the plane into 35 degrees C desert air.
So far the plane is cleared for up to 7g. When the next software update comes alog it will be 9g like the F-16. Even now the F-35 has maneuvering capabilities that makes “Tintin” and “Dolby” rewrite the manual for dogfights. Traditionally, the one with the highest speed has the advantage in dogfights. The F-35 gives the pilots the possibility to maneuver with much higher AOA. In comparison to the F-16 it has much better nose pointing capabilities.
-The ability to point towards my opponent makes me able to deliver a weapon sooner than I'm used to. It forces my opponent to react more defensive and gives me the ability to slow down fast, Hanche says. -Since I can slow down fast I can point my plane at my enemy for longer before the roles are reversed. The backside is that you loose energy, but it's not really a problem. The plane has so much engine power and low drag that the acceleration is awesome. With a F-16 I would have had to dive to gain as much speed after a hard turn.
Hanche has earlier put words to his experience of flying the F-35 in several post on “The combat aircraft blog” Here he describes how the aggressive F-35 gives him the ability to stick to an opponent and keep him in his sights:

“To sum it up, my experience so far is that the F-35 makes it easier for me to maintain the offensive role, and it provides me more opportunities to effectively employ weapons at my opponent.
In the defensive role the same characteristics are valuable. I can «whip» the airplane around in a reactive maneuver while slowing down. The F-35 can actually slow down quicker than you´d be able to emergency brake your car. This is important because my opponent has to react to me «stopping, or risk ending up in a role-reversal where he flies past me.”

Another trait of the F-35 emerges when in defensive situations. At high AOA the F-16 responds slow when moving the stick sideways to roll the plane. A bit like using the rudder on a large ship I think, not that I know what I'm talking about – I'm not a sailor. In the F-35 I can use the rudder-pedals to steer the nose sideways. At high AOA the F-35 still responds quick compared to the F-16. This gives me the opportunity to point the nose where I want and threaten my opponent. I can do this “pedalturning” impressively fast, even at low speeds. As a defensive capability I can neutralize a situation fast or even reverse the roles.
A negative in training one on one has been that the view out of the cockpit is not as good as on the F-16. The visibility in a F-16 is especially good, better than in any other fighter I've flown. I could turn all the way around in my seat and see the opposite wingtip. In the F-35 I can't do that because the seat blocks some of the view. This made me a bit frustrated after the first flights. I had to learn to move different. Now I move forward in the seat before I lean a bit sideways and turn my head to look back. That way I can look around the sides of the seat. In the F-35 you learn to work around the issue and it's not a real disadvantage once you know how to do it.


The computer helmet
The 41 year old fighter pilot Martin “Tintin” Tesli is true enthusiast. At home he has a T-33 training fighter from the 1950s that he uses in airshows. He loves contrasts, the veteran fighter is fully analog unlike the F-35s “brain” that lighten the workload for the pilot.
But in a way the F-35 talks directly to the pilot. Even in the first flight “Dolby” was surprised by the shaking in the fuselage that varied as he was turning harder, almost like driving a car.. For the pilot this means that he gets a feedback as to how much energy the plane has without looking at the instruments. -It gives a real feeling of flying, more so than in the F-16, says “Tintin”.
Regardless, if you get in a dogfight in the F-35 you've probably done something wrong. The ability to see from far away without being seen changes the game completely. The plane is a surveillance- , bomb- and fighter plane all at once, with the ability to move freely in areas with modern anti air defenses. Where you earlier needed a lot of F-16s you now only need four F-35s to do the same job.
-It's not fair being a F-35 pilot. It's unfair how we can sneak in and finish the job at a long distance, “Dolby” says ironically.
The advanced autopilot and the good flying qualities of the plane takes some of the adrenaline out of the flying, making it easier for the pilot to do the mission. One of the most important tools is the helmet which has become an integral part of the plane. It's a bit like having a laptop on your head. “Tintin” let us hold the helmet with its kevlar shell, built in night vision and visor which shows all the projected information to the pilot.. If a missile is fired at the plane, a short tone followed by a woman's voice tell that the missile is coming from the side. When “Tintin” rotates his head in that direction, symbols on the visor will tell him the missiles position, speed and direction. This makes it easier to avoid ground threats and survive in a more modern battlespace. He can also fire his own missile while he accelerates away and lets the computer guide the weapon by just looking at the symbol of his opponent.
Six outside cameras also project a 360 degree field on his visor. If he looks down he will see the ground “through” the bottom of his plane. It comes down to the most important ability a pilot has, to prioritize his tasks instinctively. But I belive the generation of gamers will use the plane even better, says Hanche. In peacetime though, the most important thing is to not drop the helmet so it get damaged. The cost of this wonder is about 3,5 million Nok a piece. The cost of training with the F-35 is also higher than the last generation fighter. According to the DoD the cost for USAF to train one hour in the F-35 is about 120 000 Nok. Multiply that with 150 hours a year it comes to about 18 million Nok per pilot per year for training. To get the most cost effective training, the norwegian pilots will use a simulator for 40% of their training in the new simulator-building at the Ørland base once it's finished. The simulators are so good that the F-35 is only single seater, the pilot does his, or hers, first flight alone after about 30 hours in the simulator.
The plan is also that maintenance will be simplified. In peacetime the hangars will work as a drive-thru system where each plane has its own depot. A two man crew is responsible for avionics and engine systems while ALIS wil tell what needs to be changed instead of regular maintenance intervalls, says Major Bjorn Tommy Eigeland. He is the liaison at Lukes responsible for building the maintenance department in Norway. The radar absorbing coating on the hull will complicate maintenance if you have to break it remove panels.
He and his colleagues has bought bikes to travel the roads in the US while they live there. Pilots are not the only ones allowed to have some fun.
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Unread post11 May 2016, 22:45

Many thanks for translation & original PDF 'langbein'. The article has some great information whilst these are a few of many good quotes from it that impressed.
"...The plane has so much engine power and low drag that the acceleration is awesome....

...A negative in training one on one has been that the view out of the cockpit is not as good as on the F-16. The visibility in a F-16 is especially good, better than in any other fighter I've flown. I could turn all the way around in my seat and see the opposite wingtip. In the F-35 I can't do that because the seat blocks some of the view. This made me a bit frustrated after the first flights. I had to learn to move different. Now I move forward in the seat before I lean a bit sideways and turn my head to look back. That way I can look around the sides of the seat. In the F-35 you learn to work around the issue and it's not a real disadvantage once you know how to do it...."
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Unread post12 May 2016, 19:53

Great work langbein, both getting the pdf and translating it - appreciated!

Not really *that* much new in it for the readers here, but still good to see that information spread :)

There's also a new blog post up at RNoAF program today, with translation:

http://nettsteder.regjeringen.no/kampfl ... ay-around/
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