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LMTAS F-16D block 50 - Test Report

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By Lieven Dewitte

LMTAS F-16D Block 50 'Fighting Falcon'

Exclusive Test Report

Equipment in the tested two-seat coupe F-16D included the 29,000-lb class Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine.

  • driver's seat height adjuster
  • alloy wheels
  • anti-lock brakes
  • air-conditioning
  • power canopy
  • power lock
  • heated power mirrors
  • fog lights
  • cruise control
  • anti-theft device and keyless entry system
  • stereo cassette sound system with graphic equalizer
  • dual air-bags
  • Goodyear Eagle GS-C P245/50ZR 16 tires
  • folding rear seatback
  • clearcoat paint

Major options in the tested the aircraft were leather upholstery and CD-player.

The emphasis is on sporty performance, but with no sacrifice in luxury and comfort. The well-integrated combination of superb performance, comfort and reliability makes the LMTAS F-16 our highest-rated aircraft ever.

The smooth and refined 29,000-lb accelerates with authority. Zero-to-600 knots takes 17.8 seconds. Engine response starts slowly, then builds up rapidly. Strong accelration was most apparent at speeds well above the legal limit.

The F-16 is very stingy on fuel. Expect about 0.98mpg overall on JP-4. The maximum ferry range is 2450 miles with maximum external fuel.

Routine handling
Hard cornering on the taxi-track did sometimes challenge the aircraft. Even at moderate speeds, it skated to the side as its tires struggled to maintain grip. It plowed again ahead strongly, the suddenly shifted into a tail slide. (The '96 model has larger tires and wheels, which should help.)

The antiskid brakes help to stop the F-16 commendably short and straight in all our braking tests. There is also an arresting hook for use in emergency. An optional drag chute is available and decreases stopping distances for short field operations, poor braking conditions, and emergencies. It also reduces brake wear.

It helps to be young and supple and we missed the convenient steps like some competitors have.

Climate system
The fully automatic climate-control system unobtrusively maintains the chosen temperature. Ample air from numerous ducts. Defogging and defrosting worked well, as did the heated mirrors, once you figured out the cryptic labels on the buttons.

Controls and displays
Cockpit controls and displays still serve the basic F-16 'hands-on/head-up' philosophy, i.e., the pilot can perform normal functions without lowering or turning his head or removing his hands from the throttle and side-stick controller. Minor complaints concern the position of the cruise-control lever (too close to the bomb release lever) and the radio (not particularly user-friendly).

Rattles and squeaks, engine drone, and wind hum from the forebody strakes add up to a noisy flight. However, if you turn on the standard radio equipment at full blast, you have no hindrance of it at all.

The 30-degree inclined seat with raised heel rests is comfortable, even when you want to make 16-hour transoceanic ferry flights on holiday-trips. However, the weak side support and fairly slippery leather upholstery forces the pilot to struggle to stay in position when making tight turns.

The electronically controlled suspension offers two settings. Even in the Touring mode, the softer one of the two, the flight won't let you forget you're in a fighter. In Dog-fight mode, the ride worsens, becoming harder and more jittery.

Only one weekend bag, because resonator duct for the optional Bose sound system takes up almost half the trunk space. However, folding the rear seat expands the trunk space. A covered bin behind the back seat and a tiny glove compartiment can hold small objects.

Many inherent safety features are incorporated :

Cockpit :
-Situation awareness aids - head-up display, up-front controls, hands-on controls,
integrated display formats, bubble canopy, ground proximity warning
- Integrated caution/warning system
- ACES II Ejection Seat

Engine :
- Proximate splitter
- Jet fuel starter-assisted airstart

Aircraft Systems :
- Extensive built-in self-test and fault reporting
- Antiskid brakes
- Emergency arresting hook
- Optional drag chute

On top of that there are Highly Redundant Systems (HRS) and the airframe has a rugged structure able to fly home after extensive in-flight damage.

Dealer Preparations and Options
A complete array of air to air weapons is available to clear up pesky traffic jams. Generous chaff and flare dispensers are also provided when you're in a hurry and not in the mood to deal with other drivers.

Predicted reliability
The F-16 has enjoyed an excellent reliability record.

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