F-35 & F-16 (Block 50 +) - Comparison of frontal view.

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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battleshipagincourt

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Unread post08 Feb 2011, 17:32

Actually now that I've stopped and really thought about this... it's stupid of me to waste time debating this.

Whether I'm right or wrong(which I probably am); it doesn't really matter. I'm not in a position to make such choices, haven't actually been in either of these planes, nor am I qualified to say my opinion is worth anything. I've read a number of books on the topic of fighter design/history/capabilities, yet there are EXPERTS who can still contradict one another on what to make of a good aircraft.

And whether I like it or not, the brass of the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, and foreign investors are all waging much on the success of the JSF program. If I'm right and the F-35 turns out to be a waste, I won't like the outcome. If I'm wrong, then everything works out and I'm just worrying that the sky is falling over nothing. Either way, I really shouldn't invest so much time or thought into this debate. What do I really know? And even if I did know better, what difference would it make?

I'm going to try and give this a rest for a while, as the JSF has enough critics who ARE in a position to do something about it.
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wrightwing

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Unread post08 Feb 2011, 17:47

battleshipagincourt wrote:Okay, maybe I have issues with properly wording my meanings. I am not remotely suggesting that you can reasonably use legacy fighters to perform the role of a stealth fighter, but using F-16's and F-15E's in conjunction with stealth fighters (whether it's the F-35 or the F-22) offer many of the benefits without having to drop >$100 million per aircraft.


The F-35 won't cost >$100m per aircraft though, so this is a strawman argument. Even the LRIP birds are only slightly over $100m, and they don't enjoy nearly the economies of scale, that the full rate production birds will.

A formation of four F-22's and 36 legacy fighters (data linked) has moreorless the same situational awareness as forty F-22's.


Not even close. The active/passive sensors on F-22/35s spread over a wider front, greatly expands the volume of air/land that can be monitored, not to mention the amount of bandwidth that they can transmit/receive compared with legacy birds.



No, I'll stick with the 1:2. Key words you used there: supposed to be. I remember seeing F-35A figures as low as $27 million each, as compared to the $20 million F-16. Now what are they estimating, taking R&D into account, higher estimates in manufacturing costs, and to delays in production?


F-16 Blk 50/52s are in the >$40m price range, and that's before you start adding the ECM, Navigation/Targeting pods, etc... so you can add another $10m/aircraft in add ons, bringing the price to >$50m for a fully equipped late model F-16. The F-35A at full rate production should cost ~$60-70m, so for ~$10-20m more, you're getting a considerable increase in capability and survivability.




No, you'd use a secure channel. And before noting that current F-22's can't do this with older fighters yet, this is a limitation you could overcome with upgrading the Raptor's datalink capabilities as they did with the F-35.


You'd have to upgrade the F-16's datalinks, if you wanted LPI transmission capabilities with F-22s.

I don't get it. Which scenario depicts the generation five/legacy fighter force combo?


Any strike force involving legacy aircraft, is going to require more aircraft, than a wholly 5G force.
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castlebravo

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Unread post08 Feb 2011, 19:12

If stealth isn't required, couldn't you load up four missiles and six pylons with mud-moving ordnance on the F-35A compared to four missiles and only two pylons on an F-16 that needs to carry drop tanks, a targeting pod, and a self-protection jammer as well?
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Unread post08 Feb 2011, 19:12

battleshipagincourt wrote:Actually now that I've stopped and really thought about this... it's stupid of me to waste time debating this.

Whether I'm right or wrong(which I probably am); it doesn't really matter. I'm not in a position to make such choices, haven't actually been in either of these planes, nor am I qualified to say my opinion is worth anything. I've read a number of books on the topic of fighter design/history/capabilities, yet there are EXPERTS who can still contradict one another on what to make of a good aircraft.

Okay. Well I'm going to post my response anyway.
The cost of upgrading an F-16 to even adequate capability against high-threat environments is going to be extremely high in the near future, approaching F-35 costs while still having significantly less innate survivability.

Plus, since legacy aircraft are aging anyway, you're going to have to fund a huge SLEP program (probably more than one, too) or new-build aircraft. So a lot of the costs of "cheap" F-16s are illusory.

You make the mistake of looking at this in the short-term. Sure, your "force multiplier" strategy might work for maybe a decade or a little more. But in 20 years there are going to be threats that aren't even on the drawing board now, threats that will probably destroy F-16s with or without a handful of F-22's trying to protect them.

I'm imagining SAM tactics, where launchers remain hidden and radars stay off until the last moment, as they often did in Serbia. What happens to those F-16's when they stumble upon an SA-2X when their F-22s are already engaged out front? That's why you want an aircraft that is capable of more or less taking care of itself. The F-16 might as well be a B-17 in a couple decades because it'll be loaded down with gas to get enough range (why F-35 is designed with a high fuel fraction) and it will be almost totally reliant on ECM because of it's RCS. At some point you have to escort your own bomb trucks so closely that it's not worth even having them.

Don't simplify the problem of networking too much. It isn't magic. You're treating is as if, boom- like magic, every aircraft can know what every other aircraft can know all the time without any trouble. Those links aren't perfect and any adversary worth a nickel is going to be jamming the crap out of everything. Add that to the fact that you're trying to get one (the F-22's) aircraft's SA picture to several others (the 9 F-16's) and you have yourself a huge problem of dynamically trying to route this information (which aircraft gets priority? who routes what? what if a link gets shot down?). What about range and FOV? How stealthy is MADL once you stick it on a non-stealthy platform? And don't forget bandwidth!

Lastly, you also take the classic AF-centric viewpoint and conveniently forget the Navy and the Marines. Unless you want to develop yet another aircraft for the Navy, you'll have to shadow the carriers with F-22s for them to be useful in any real fight.
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Unread post08 Feb 2011, 19:28

castlebravo wrote:If stealth isn't required, couldn't you load up four missiles and six pylons with mud-moving ordnance on the F-35A compared to four missiles and only two pylons on an F-16 that needs to carry drop tanks, a targeting pod, and a self-protection jammer as well?


Absolutely. When in more permissive environments, the F-35 can carry more ordinance, further, than the F-16.
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 11:48

Lot's of debates going on here, lol.. :thumb:

Ok, well, imho somewhere between majorzaid's 2nd cobbled together and exec's cobbled contribution, perhaps reveal a more equalized 'frontal view comparison'?? 8)

But first off, with regards to the original diagram, the depiction of the noted F-16's mismatch in loaded fuel range is worth clarifying (no, NOT double the the range but still capacity for significant range extension/loiter time vs F-35). The original F-16I pic also is extra dramatized deploying the larger winged LG GBU (in addition to AIM-9).

The pods as bulky as they look have more tactical flexibility too albeit at the tradeoff to obvious drag, speed and rcs, sure. Be it a self-protection digital EAttack pod or Litening SE (next gen superior sensor/tgt, in continuous spiral plan) plus superior LW IRST pod on the other side, and Escort next-gen SoJ pod, recce pod or centerline fuel tank the flexibility is in fairness something in capabilities complementing (and even beyond what a mature 2016-2017 F-35A can pack.

What Cola alludes to and battleship articulates quite well in this thread though, are on the relevant broader 'grey zone' factors (tactical, technological and economical), which I just see being left out in seemingly black and white, single dimensional F-35 vs F-16 comparisons.

Hence, it's more so about doctrine and the appropriate paradigm shift policymaking and planning which would have to come into play to implement the key asymmetrical, 'equalizing' factors. I.e., currently, any 'nominal' USAF F-16 SLEP (with whatever's left over in rapidly shrinking spare funding, staying the course on F-35 procurement) will as I see it, NOT transform the older F-16s into a major force-multiplier long-term. No, that's not which the camp of thought I'm in, attempting to argue. It would have to be a more strategic-oriented, new-build advanced F-16 with the requirement being for a proper stopgap/interim recapitalziation airframe. It is still the more economical comparative option though, I'm convinced of this.

To reply to the other speculation read on this 'price' point, I'd guesstimate around 5 such hypothetical advanced 'plan B' F-16s afforded for every 3 block III F-35A (starting FY14 buy year). Fully equipped and loaded F-16s. Once again, very unfortunately, procurement buying power is going to be substantially reduced especially after FY15. Current procurement expectations still officially claimed apparently, will unfortunately be stepped down year over year to look nothing like what this plan for 3,000 F-35s @ $65m unit cost etc, etc. or whatever it is now, I'm sorry. Something else I still don't see injected into rational debate on these F-35 subjects.

Conjecture on how to actually asymmetrically arm them and equip them though (via spiral enhanced COTS/MOTS integration), would clearly have to be part of the strategic plan and policy shift and is probably for another thread. But let's just say in closing that if done properly, the entry 2016 delivered F-16s could in all irony be the miracle jet that could, and doing the escorting for the few F-35s and even F-22! Along side the Golden Eagles!! :mrgreen:

All of which escorted and complemented by yes, UCAV. (a bird with a very interesting frontal view)!
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 11:50

battleshipagincourt wrote:Okay, maybe I have issues with properly wording my meanings. I am not remotely suggesting that you can reasonably use legacy fighters to perform the role of a stealth fighter, but using F-16's and F-15E's in conjunction with stealth fighters (whether it's the F-35 or the F-22) offer many of the benefits without having to drop >$100 million per aircraft.

Except that the F-35 is planned to cost between 60 and 70 mil.

battleshipagincourt wrote:A formation of four F-22's and 36 legacy fighters (data linked) has moreorless the same situational awareness as forty F-22's.

No, no and no.
Plus as I said – Raptors can only datalink directly to F-16s or F-18s with non-stealth Link-16. Link-16 for the Raptor is something like ‘stealth-nullifier’.

battleshipagincourt wrote:That's because the remarkable radars and sensors of the F-22 and/or F-35 becomes more and more redundant as they all share the same airspace.

The same airspace means thousands of square kilometers. You can’t cover that with only one formation of Raptors.


battleshipagincourt wrote:No, I'll stick with the 1:2. Key words you used there: supposed to be. I remember seeing F-35A figures as low as $27 million each, as compared to the $20 million F-16.

Well, you can always chose to live in your own fantasy-world if that makes you happy. ?


battleshipagincourt wrote:That's true of older fighters, but the idea is that an F-22 would engage at close range while a missile carrier would trail ~50 miles behind. Transmitting data back to the missile, an F-16 would carry and launch the AMRAAM, but it would be the F-22 guiding the missile to target. This would be assuming they are carrying the AIM-120D, which will have superior range to allow for engagements beyond 50 miles. All you would have to consider is how long the missile's fuel would endure, that the enemy fighter continues closing, and the speed/altitude of the missile truck. From a supercruising F-22, this range could be as much as 100 miles. From an F-16, this would still be 50-75 miles.

You only confirmed that you really don’t know how air combat works.
All those ‘max ranges’ are valid only for ‘perfect situation’. Perfect situations is:
1. You fly at your max altitude and max speed (in combat situations you never do that).
2. Enemy aircrafts is closing to your position and is flying high and fast.
3. Enemy aircraft fly in a straight line – no missile evading maneuvers are allowed.
Then you can have fire your missile at such extreme ranges. In combat situations you can fire AMRAAM when your target is 5-25 miles from you(depending on situation). AIM-120D will be better so you can add several miles and you can add ~50-70% for the F-22 supercruising at 60 000 ft (18km) (however F-22 is not getting AIM-120D for now).



battleshipagincourt wrote: Actually you could make due with only two F-22's because those eight F-16's can carry a total of 32 AIM-120D's among them + their A/G weapons and fuel tanks.

8XAIM-120+fuel tanks+A-G weapons? I don’t think that’s possible.

battleshipagincourt wrote: This would do the job of that F-35/F-22 force, but only with F-16's replacing the F-35's for the same effect.

There won’t be the same effect. In a threat environment F-16 will be very vulnerable to SAMs, enemy fighters and so on. I know you don’t understand that but this is how it is. In a real world SAM operators aren’t stupid. SAM most of the time remains silent. They also rely on passive sensors that can pick up Radar or Link-16 emissions(for example) and then they can turn on their radars when the F-16s get close (20km – better Pk and better probability that they will burn-through jamming) and fire missiles before you even realize what’s happening. And believe me – S-300/S-400 missile will get to you well before you HARM will get to them.
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 12:12

exec, I see you as a highly valued contributor to discussions and you clearly understand the business, so I appreciate your insights and views always.

A few 'hypotheticals' though, since we're truly debating things/scenarios 10 yrs out where we all are sort of trying to 'feel' our way into the future and taking our best guess stabs?

One such view being... you would not want to be in an F-35 at 25k feet either, 20-25km from a 'silent' S-300 trap? Perhaps the raw hunting response will better involve non-kinetic tactics, the decoy robots, and UCAVs in this case when under max risk and threat? I just think it's simplistic to say: you don't want to be in a loaded F-16 with everything hanging off it 25km from a SAM, while you would want to be 25k from said future SAM in an F-35... I think the future scenario would and should be neither of the above suggestions.

So definitely contemplate stand-off engagements as part of one's maximized deterrence and prioritize in new systems and then integrated flexibly (e.g., ALQ-218 derivative on F-16?) and specialized munitions as part of a doctrine (whether for legacy or 5G), imho... Complement w/ VLO UCAV platforms and tricks doing most of the high-threat 'hunting'.

Not you saying this, but for some to suggest that an evolved, future Block 60+ F-16 does not have adequate computing capacity and databus to handle NCW while only the F-35 will(?), c'mon... This is part of the very 'black and white' analytical thinking which is not part of the solution here!

And as for F-22 data linking to F-16s in 2017?? Perhaps AESA HIGH SPEED DATA TRANSFER between multiple airframes? Just as one hypothetical. I just think many of us are underestimating the potential for and high rate of manufacturer development behind the scenes of 'SYSTEMS' which will be tomorrow's COTS/MOTS applied most cost-effectively and flexibly (if the doctrine allows it) to maximize Force-multiplication in a rapidly shrinking buying power future. my views. Respects.
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 13:13

exec wrote:There won’t be the same effect. In a threat environment F-16 will be very vulnerable to SAMs, enemy fighters and so on.


USN's F18s hunted Serbian SAMs in Bosnia for months and never lost a single plane. RCS was never an issue.

They also rely on passive sensors that can pick up Radar or Link-16 emissions(for example) and then they can turn on their radars when the F-16s get close (20km – better Pk and better probability that they will burn-through jamming) and fire missiles before you even realize what’s happening.


Exec, one can't find range from Link16 emissions, only azimuth.
Second, at 20km, the F35 is as visible as an F16 in every band and then, you better have some good maneuvering capability, at your disposal.

And believe me – S-300/S-400 missile will get to you well before you HARM will get to them.


Care to elaborate this a bit?
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 13:58

geogen wrote:One such view being... you would not want to be in an F-35 at 25k feet either, 20-25km from a 'silent' S-300 trap?

This not what I wanted to say – 20km was just an example. What I wanted to say is that the F-35 has smaller RCS (several orders of magnitude) so the detection range(and burn-thru range) is considerably smaller (F-16 x ~0.15), so it’s harder to set a trap, and easier (for the F-35) not to fly inside enemy’s SAMs range.

geogen wrote:Perhaps the raw hunting response will better involve non-kinetic tactics, the decoy robots, and UCAVs in this case when under max risk and threat?

Sure – but this is topic for another long thread. ;)



cola wrote:USN's F18s hunted Serbian SAMs in Bosnia for months and never lost a single plane.

Which proves what?
cola wrote: RCS was never an issue.

That is of course not true.

cola wrote:Exec, one can't find range from Link16 emissions, only azimuth.

But even this kind of information can help to set a trap. SAMs are not alone on the battlefield.

cola wrote:Second, at 20km, the F35 is as visible as an F16 in every band and then, you better have some good maneuvering capability, at your disposal.

Cola, you know what’s the best part of your jokes (like this one)?
You believe in them. :D
No, the F-35 at 20km is not as visible as an F-16. And if you think that the F-35 will easily be detected at 20km – you’re wrong. It all depends on:
1. Radar type (SAM)
2. Jammer type and its range from the SAM (escort jammer, stand-off jammer etc)

cola wrote:
And believe me – S-300/S-400 missile will get to you well before your HARM will get to them.


Care to elaborate this a bit?

That’s simple – medium/long range S-300/400 missiles are faster than HARM(corrected typo in one word).
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 16:17

cola wrote: USN's F18s hunted Serbian SAMs in Bosnia for months and never lost a single plane. RCS was never an issue.

That's because there were no SAMs in Bosnia, that outranged HARMs, and those F-18s had pretty significant ECM support.


at 20km, the F35 is as visible as an F16 in every band and then, you better have some good maneuvering capability, at your disposal.


At 20km, the F-16 still has an RCS of >1m^2(clean, and significantly higher when loaded with weapons, pods, EFTs), while the F-35's RCS is still .001m^2, if we're going under the assumption that each of the planes is flying towards the SAM site, so that their frontal aspect is what's seen. This means that the F-35 will still be much harder to detect/track/engage.

Care to elaborate this a bit?


It's quite simple- the SAMs are faster, and in some cases have 2-3x the range of the HARM.
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 18:15

Low RCS is useful throughout an engagement... remember, missiles cannot pack the most sensitive radars/detectors in them so even though that huge radar on a truck can track you doesn't mean that a missile it directs is going to have an easy time following you. Having a low RCS means your countermeasures are more effective because they will be comparatively brighter to the real target (you!) so even if you don't deceive the missile, you might mask yourself.

Stealth doesn't magically stop working at a certain distance, it's on a scale between impossible-to-see and easy-to-see that depends on a variety of variables.
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cola

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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 18:54

Of course low RCS is useful, but instead of equipping existing fleet with new types of jammers, the AF opted for LO plane.
All well and fine, but as it turned out, that LO planes need jammers after all, so what was the point in having LO planes, then?
It was way cheaper to develop new type of jammer for the existing fleet.
Besides, the F35 lost quite a bit of its performance to the altar of LO...and still needs a jammer...

@Ww,
the issue in Bosnia wasn't the range, but the amount of radar shadows in the terrain, masking both, planes and SAM sites.
The ranges were often way shorter then kinematic ranges of either projectiles.
As for the speed difference of SAM over HARM, it is 2-3 times over indeed, but that hardly matters, since SAM radars are stationary, while planes are dynamic targets.
Besides, that difference works only for initial speed, not the average, since SAM needs to reach targets altitude, while HARM falls down.

@Exec,
It proves that jammers did their job, more then well.
Cheers, Cola
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Unread post09 Feb 2011, 21:21

cola wrote:Of course low RCS is useful, but instead of equipping existing fleet with new types of jammers, the AF opted for LO plane.
All well and fine, but as it turned out, that LO planes need jammers after all, so what was the point in having LO planes, then?
It was way cheaper to develop new type of jammer for the existing fleet.
Besides, the F35 lost quite a bit of its performance to the altar of LO...and still needs a jammer...

This might be true in your black/white, 0/1 world.
New radar SAM radars (PESA, AESA) are much more powerful and even much harder to jam. The best way to counter such threat is to have smaller RCS. When you combine it with jammer you get the upper hand again. I know it might be hard for you to understand, so I'll try to explain:
1. Legacy SAM vs F-16 = 100km detection range.
2. Legacy SAM vs F-16 with jammer screening = 40km range.
3. New SAM vs F-16 = 300km detection range.
4. New SAM vs F-16 with jammer screening = 150km range
5. New SAM vs F-35 = 50km detection range
6. New SAM vs F-35 with jammer screening = 25km detection range

You see? It's not that hard to understand why jammers are still handy!

cola wrote:As for the speed difference of SAM over HARM, it is 2-3 times over indeed, but that hardly matters, since SAM radars are stationary, while planes are dynamic targets.
Besides, that difference works only for initial speed, not the average, since SAM needs to reach targets altitude, while HARM falls down.

Oh, but it matters. The difference in speed is too big. The SAM should reach desired altitude before it runs out of propellant with a speed ~5-6 Ma.
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Unread post10 Feb 2011, 02:53

Exec, dunno where do you get your radar ranges, but you got some really wild imagination, going on there...
cola wrote:Oh, but it matters. The difference in speed is too big. The SAM should reach desired altitude before it runs out of propellant with a speed ~5-6 Ma.

And? (even if it does)
I think you should examine rudimentary drag equation.
Cheers, Cola
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