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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by gta4 » 11 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
block50 empty weight.jpg (29.19 KiB) Viewed 41011 times

(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
29 sustained at 5000m.jpg (100.01 KiB) Viewed 41011 times


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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by garrya » 11 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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by marsavian » 12 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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F-16Blk15 at 15k.jpg
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by gta4 » 12 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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by gta4 » 13 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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by eloise » 13 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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by zero-one » 30 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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by basher54321 » 30 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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by gta4 » 30 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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by gta4 » 30 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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by Patriot » 01 Oct 2019, 08:45

Ive just recently spoke with an ex polish MiG-29 driver. He fought with F-16s on many occasions. One of the thing he told me which among other was in favor of the F-16 was and I quote: "I was always impressed on how well the F-16 can hold speed/energy/g and how quickly it accelerate and is able to regain energy - this was something that was lacking in the MiG".


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by gta4 » 01 Oct 2019, 09:38

Patriot wrote:Ive just recently spoke with an ex polish MiG-29 driver. He fought with F-16s on many occasions. One of the thing he told me which among other was in favor of the F-16 was and I quote: "I was always impressed on how well the F-16 can hold speed/energy/g and how quickly it accelerate and is able to regain energy - this was something that was lacking in the MiG".


Did he fight F-16s with or without CFTs? I've seen many youtube video showing polish F-16s with CFTs fighting MIgs in DACT. They are all hard fights.

If CFTs are stripped off there is no doubt the advantage goes to the viper, as a viper can hold better SEP in an ascending turn than a Mig in straight line.
Last edited by gta4 on 01 Oct 2019, 10:45, edited 2 times in total.


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by Patriot » 01 Oct 2019, 09:55

European F-16AMs for the most part as he retired soon after Poland recieved their new 16s. As I assume they were/are typically equipped with wing tanks for an a2a mission yet.. 16 still able to hold speed better.


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by basher54321 » 01 Oct 2019, 14:06

AMs are light with PW-220s so suspect they are pretty competitive.


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by viperzerof-2 » 22 May 2022, 22:52

https://vnfawing.com/F-16-vs-MiG-29.htm

Not sure if anyone here wrote this but it sounded interesting

This has just been written up in Air Forces Monthly. The F-16C Wing based in Spain sent a group down to the ACM range in Sardinia (which I am not going to attempt to spell Decmommm..) at the same time as the Luftwaffe Mig-29/F4 wing had slots. Seems the German pilots are good enough but the Avionics on the Migs are still a real pain. Comments like 11 seperate switches to launch a missile vs 1 for the F-16! The Radar is not as good as that in the F-4s (so the Luftwaffe uses mixed formations). The Head mounted AA-11 site system is great, giving a 45 degree cone of engagement and the Mig-29 can out point the F-16C at most speeds but the F-16C can maintain energy better.

From the ACM reports the Luftwaffe's Mig-29s are better than an F-16A and not as good as the F-16C. So far the Luftwaffe does not have a very high level of experience flying the type, comments were than non of the Luftwaffe pilots have more than 400 hours on type only 2 or 3 more than 300 and most only about 200. Not having equivalent figures I don't know how that compares with USAF norms for an operational squadron.



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