F/A-18 vs F-14 in the BFM

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

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Unread post06 Sep 2021, 09:23

I know that this forum is about the F-16, but nevertheless I will ask this question here, since I did not find an answer to it on the Internet and there are many aviation specialists here.:
Which of these NAVY aircraft do you think has the best capabilities in WVR Dogfight?

It's just that the F-14 is famous for good low-speed turn rate with minimal sweep, better the F-15 and F-16 in these modes, so the Hornet has similar behavior.
So, maybe someone flew among the users of this forum in both types, or flew in DACT.
What can you say which of them is stronger in close combat (provided that all planes have the same missiles):
F-18A / C
F-18E
F-14A
F-14B?
what are the strengths and weaknesses of each aircraft?
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Unread post06 Sep 2021, 14:40

The proper thread would have been "Military Aviation >> Military Aircraft of the Cold War"

That said, the F-14 and F/A-18 have very different advantages.

The Tomcat makes more lift per weight.
--- This equates to a tighter turn radius available and a higher turn rate on the low speed side

The Tomcat had no FBW imposed G limit.
--- This equates to a higher peak turn rate, and higher turn rates at smaller radii at higher speed.

The Tomcat had no FBW imposed AoA limit and incredible pitch authority.
-- This equates to the ability to raise the nose under almost any circumstance.

The B model Tomcat had powerful engines.
-- This equates to incredible vertical performance. Pilots say it could begin a loop at 180KIAS. It also demonstrated a "Dirty Double Immelmann" in which during a touch and go the pilot could perform two vertical maneuvers from touchdown speeds with gear, landing flaps, and speed brakes out.

The Lot 20 Hornet had powerful engines.
-- of this entire group, the Lot 20 F/A-18C had the best subsonic acceleration and sustained turn rates.

The E/F model Hornets have higher AoA limits.
-- These Hornets can reach AoAs that not even the Tomcat can comfortably reach, but it will cost speed.

The Hornet has a phenomenal FBW system.
-- While the Tomcat can turn tighter, the Hornet (all) can change which way the nose is pointing with ease. Hornets are described as controllable in all axes at double digit speeds.

The later Hornets have/had JHMCS and AIM-9X
-- This is a quantum leap in capability over the AIM-9M and forward radar targeting available to the Tomcat.

The Tomcat and D/F Hornets have a G.I.B. to help keep track of things in a furball.


The F-14 and F/A-18 also both have disadvantages.

The A model Tomcat has atrocious engines.
-- Not only were they underpowered but they were prone to compressor stalls during asymmetrical maneuvering and the occasional detonation.

The Tomcat has a lot of buffeting and yaw oscillations at higher AoA.
-- This makes a gun tracking solution more challenging. It is not carefree like the Hornet.

The Tomcat has no Roll control at higher AoA.
-- Only rudder can be used to control the direction of turn at higher AoA as roll control effectiveness reduced and even reverses.

The A/B, early C/D, and E/F models of Hornet have weak engines.
-- Any non-Lot 20 C/D is where the stories of Hornets being slow come from. The E/F motors are not terrible subsonic but will still lag the F-14B

A-D Hornets have the lowest max AoA in the group.
-- This will limit the ability to point the weapon system in some cases.

The Hornet has a 'hard coded' G limit.
-- There is an override paddle that allows 33% more G max, but there is still a fixed limit. This could impact the ability to follow a higher speed turn.


All in all I think that, with the same weapons, the Tomcat (B model at least) has more strengths but a Lot 20 Hornet has the fewest weaknesses.
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Unread post06 Sep 2021, 19:31

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:The proper thread would have been "Military Aviation >> Military Aircraft of the Cold War"

That said, the F-14 and F/A-18 have very different advantages.

The Tomcat makes more lift per weight.
--- This equates to a tighter turn radius available and a higher turn rate on the low speed side

The Tomcat had no FBW imposed G limit.
--- This equates to a higher peak turn rate, and higher turn rates at smaller radii at higher speed.

The Tomcat had no FBW imposed AoA limit and incredible pitch authority.
-- This equates to the ability to raise the nose under almost any circumstance.

The B model Tomcat had powerful engines.
-- This equates to incredible vertical performance. Pilots say it could begin a loop at 180KIAS. It also demonstrated a "Dirty Double Immelmann" in which during a touch and go the pilot could perform two vertical maneuvers from touchdown speeds with gear, landing flaps, and speed brakes out.

The Lot 20 Hornet had powerful engines.
-- of this entire group, the Lot 20 F/A-18C had the best subsonic acceleration and sustained turn rates.

The E/F model Hornets have higher AoA limits.
-- These Hornets can reach AoAs that not even the Tomcat can comfortably reach, but it will cost speed.


ALL hornets, not only e/f.

The A/B, early C/D, and E/F models of Hornet have weak engines.


Still much better T/W than f-14a, and without the compressor stall problems

A-D Hornets have the lowest max AoA in the group.
-- This will limit the ability to point the weapon system in some cases.



This is wrong. ALL hornets have amazing high AoA abilities.

For example, see about time 6.15 in this video:

https://youtu.be/7Dk-2zC6Y00
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Unread post07 Sep 2021, 02:43

A-D have a 35 AoA limit. That video gives no indication of anything higher. E/F are more unrestricted, this is even explicitly mentioned in the Manuals. The F-14 is not hard limited like the Hornets, but the E/F have a hard limit above the practical control limit of the Tomcat.

Nothing I said is "wrong"

6:15 in that video was not over 35 AoA and was not relevant to me saying the A-D Hornets have the lowest AoA limits. What that WAS showcasing was my previous point of ..

"The Hornet has a phenomenal FBW system.
-- While the Tomcat can turn tighter, the Hornet (all) can change which way the nose is pointing with ease. Hornets are described as controllable in all axes at double digit speeds."
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Unread post07 Sep 2021, 05:11

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:A-D have a 35 AoA limit.


The original FbW software may have had such limit, but that limit is not place in new FbW software.

And the AoA sensor of classic Hornet is limited that it cannot accurately measure higher than 35 degrees AoA.

That video gives no indication of anything higher. E/F are more unrestricted, this is even explicitly mentioned in the Manuals.


It's not about A-D vs E-F , it's about new vs old FbW software.

Here is a paper about development of the new fly-by-wire software and testing F-18 at high AoA:

https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcon ... k_gradthes


And here is a better video clearly showing much higher than 35 degrees AoA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52zgIccljK4&t=400s

At Turku airshow 2019 I saw finnish air force hornet performing the same, with my own eyes, and could see that the AoA was clearly much higher than 35 degrees.
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Unread post07 Sep 2021, 10:44

Hey, thanks! That paper is stellar. I always appreciate new data. So I guess now my point would have to change to "Old FBW A-D" and this makes the Lot 20 C even more dangerous.
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Unread post07 Sep 2021, 13:20

Lot 20 C/D are definitely real good fighter aircraft and seem to be very dangerous in BFM against almost anybody. Like that Swiss evaluation in 2009 showed that their F-18C was then better than EF Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and JAS Gripen in WVR engagements. They attributed that to AIM-9X and JHMCS maturity, but I bet that high-AoA maneuverability of the Hornet was a contributing factor. To me it seems like high-AoA maneuverability goes well together with HOBS missiles and HMS/HMD systems.

Did F-14s ever get Digital FCS system beyond test beds?
https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA294267.pdf
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Unread post07 Sep 2021, 19:01

hornetfinn wrote:Did F-14s ever get Digital FCS system beyond test beds?



AB and D look to have done in the late 1990s http://www.anft.net/f-14/f14-detail-dfcs.htm

Late Manuals for ABD also describe them having Digital Flight Control systems.
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Unread post08 Sep 2021, 06:24

Thank you basher! I could not find a good info about DFCS getting into service. Today trying to dig a bit deeper, it seems like F-14 NATOPS also has DFCS covered and with info about how the maneuverability and stability was improved.

It's pretty impressive how much extra flight performance could be extracted from an old and aerodynamically stable airframe with basically just software in both F-14 and F/A-18A-D case.
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Unread post08 Sep 2021, 13:22

F-14D pilot Matt Plaisier talks about the Tomcat fighting 1 circle and nose authority against the Hornet (according to him Hornet is better in that aspect): https://youtu.be/Cgq4xjXN4-8?t=1451



Words from a 3000 hour Hornet pilot on F/A-18 Corner Velocity (which is 310 knots at 7.5G):

F-18 Corner Speed.png


F-14 Pilot Paco Chierici in his Aircrew Interview Q & A stated that the Tomcat's Corner Velocity is 307 knots at 6.5G. Meaning at nearly the same speed the Hornet pulls 1G more, hence resulting in a smaller turn radius.



French Marine Rafales fought both F-14 and F/A-18 back in 2002, they concluded the Hornet to be the more difficult adversary in BFM:
F-18, F-14 vs Rafale 2002.jpg

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