Air Force Opts to Keep F-16s Flying for Decades Longer
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Thread: Air Force Opts to Keep F-16s Flying for Decades Longer

  1. #1

    Icon4 Air Force Opts to Keep F-16s Flying for Decades Longer

    “Following F-16 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications, the U.S. Air Force could safely operate Block 40-52 aircraft to 2048 and beyond,” the release said.

    The modification program would boost the overall flight hours of the jet from 8,000 to 12,000, Lockheed said in a release.

    The latest update comes after Air Force officials have said the F-16 is intended to replace the F-15C/D variants. Both the active-duty component and Air National Guard are considering retiring the Boeing-made Eagle.

    The Air Force claims it has the capacity in the F-16C community “to recapitalize … radar to serve the same function as the F-15 has done and thereby reduce the different systems that we have to sustain and operate, so that makes it more efficient,” said Maj. Gen. Scott D. West.

    https://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/04/12/a...orce_170418.nl

  2. #2
    Maj. Gen. Scott D. West.
    Lockheed said in a release.
    Not to sound like a broken record, but: uh-huh.
    How much, I wonder, did Lockheed promise the general. AND, how lucrative is the contract? AND, how soon do the cost over-runs and delays kick in.

    Sounds like Lockheed's usual method for the purchasing of the contract.
    I worked for them for a while, and I've seen it first hand. They bought, and then trashed the Aerostat program. I saw it from inception till I just had to quit. They don't give a darn about the employees, either, by the way. Just making more and more profits.

    But I'm not bitter. I'M not bitter...the heck I'm not!
    Apologies to Mr. John Wayne, nee Marion Micheal Morrison.

    Sorry. [/rant off]
    Pat☺
    Fly Free, always!
    Sgt of Marines
    USMC, 10 years proud service.
    Inactive now...

  3. #3
    One of my friends is a former F-16 pilot who stated that the aircraft is a hardy and stable platform that should not be scrapped. Ralph said that aircraft was way more advanced than subsequent aircraft the Air Force took possession of. Ralph is now a General in the reserve but can no longer fly. I don't have the expertise to judge whether or not this is corruption or recognition of a great aircraft's ability to extend. I felt the same way about the F-14. I read everything I could get my hands on and every video I could find concerning that plane.
    Ted
    Vivat Christus Rex! Ad maiorem Dei gloriam

  4. #4
    How much of this do you suppose is just recognition that the F-35 is not going to work out well in the long run?
    The F-35 is a lot of neat high tech stuff in a somewhat mediocre airframe in my opinion.
    Now as in prior failed programs, if we take all this neat equipment and mount in in a better performing airframe (F-16), perhaps that is the creation of a really great weapon system.

    Regarding F-14....
    I like the looks of the aeroplane, but do recognize that it had some serious shortcomings.
    I do not believe its power to weight ratio was ever that good, but it sure did have the charisma and some really good weapons.

    - Ivan the 1G Fighter Pilot.

  5. #5
    The late, great, do-it-all aircraft:


    Cheers

    The Old Master Sergeant
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails F-4-Infographic.jpg  

  6. #6
    After I got out, I went to work in Yuma with VMFAT-401 Snipers. Israeli Kfirs. Some of our guys went up against some F-14's. D Models, I believe. They had a better than 1:1 thrust-to-weight. The lead pilot came in after they returned, drenched in sweat. More-so than usual after a flight. He said "Do NOT get slow with a '14!"
    Apparently the 14's kicked their butts! It seems that the F-14's would just slow down to about 90KIAS, let the Kfir blow past, then "blast" them with a missile shot. Our guys never got a shot off, even head on with guns.
    Another little trick they loved to pull was to manually sweep the wings way forward, but keep a fair amount of airspeed on. The Kfir pilot would see the wing sweep they had during the turns, say "Aha! They don't have much energy left " and when they acted accordingly, the F-14 would let the wings do what they wanted automatically, and again, a win.
    The '14's got a couple shots in with their Phoenix at BVR, too. The Kfir's never even got a radar lock before they were "dead". As far as I know, they were the only plane to ever carry the AIM-54 Phoenix. Pity, too. That missile, plus the plane's radar system, was a truly effective system. Sadly, ROE's almost never, ever permitted BVR shots. Wasted a lot of development money setting it up. They may as well have carried AIM-9, nothing else. Waste a heck of a weapons platform.

    Great stories from our pilots. We sat and listened for hours. And laughed a little at our pilot's discomfiture. They really got their butts waxed, for a change

    Sorry, I ramble...
    Pat☺
    Fly Free, always!
    Sgt of Marines
    USMC, 10 years proud service.
    Inactive now...

  7. #7
    Vipers should be around, but with the upgrades other countries are pushing with theirs. I had a ANG Viper pilot tell me about fighting the Blk 60s, miles away from our Blk 50/52.

    As far as the Tomkitty, outside of being a huge fan, among the politics at the time it was in the wrong place on the budget. Outstanding platform on the way out in 2006 with the "D" model. Great radar, long range, and looked sexy.
    Fly Navy/Army
    DUSTOFF
    ARMY PROPS

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by PhantomTweak View Post
    Sadly, ROE's almost never, ever permitted BVR shots. Wasted a lot of development money setting it up. They may as well have carried AIM-9, nothing else. Waste a heck of a weapons platform.




    Pat☺
    I don't think the Phoenix was ever worth the cost and weight unless you are talking about fleet defense where you can chuck missiles at large bombers without the complex target environment of a more active theater of operations.

  9. #9
    Hello PhanomTweak,

    Thanks for the Rambling. You actually got me to go and check for the specs of the F-14D.
    I had not realised that the power was increased that much with the D version.
    Still, for all the improvements, it had to be carrying less than 50% fuel and just a few missiles to get to a 1:1 Thrust-Weight ratio.
    The guys you were fighting probably didn't have any real missiles or cannon shells or did they? That might explain the great performance.
    Too bad they can't build them any more. It was a beautiful aeroplane.


    Hello oldmsgt,

    If I were to build a jet for the simulators, the F-4E would be very high on the list.
    It is one of those shapes that can be both ugly and attractive at the same time (another of my favourite aeroplanes).

    - Ivan.

  10. #10
    What a bloody good move!
    Now, if only the RAAF brass could get their ducks in a row and cancel the 100 'entry level' F35 order, replacing them with Super Hornets, common sense would be restored.
    Bloody Muppets!
    "Illegitimum non carborundum".

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  11. #11
    The F-16 is a highly capable platform and has a lot of remaining life. Like the decision to keep the A-10, the USAF top brass is showing a degree of good decision making. The F-35... reminds me of three phrases to never be trusted.
    1. The check is in the mail.
    2. I'll still love you in the morning.
    3. I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.
    My computer:Win XP 32 Home SP3, Q9650 @ 3.8 GHz, 4GB DDR2-800 RAM @ 845 MHz, EVGA Nvidia 560Ti-SOC-1GB

  12. #12
    Ok I am not an expert but doesn't the F16 (and F-14/15 ect) have a relatively large radar and infrared signature? A 5th generation fighter or latest ground/naval system would see them way to soon to be comfortable!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Tuor2112 View Post
    Ok I am not an expert but doesn't the F16 (and F-14/15 ect) have a relatively large radar and infrared signature? A 5th generation fighter or latest ground/naval system would see them way to soon to be comfortable!
    Yes, but...

    The "teen" series fighters have a relatively large radar cross section, when viewed (by radar) from the correct angle. However, there are ways to reduce a plane's radar signature, called it's Swerling Class rating.

    You can do what's called "beaming", or moving at 90° to the radar's beam. Essentially, with a normal search radar, they just go roundie-roundie-round, so the plane can fly a curved course, keeping it at 90° to the radar beam, and keeping the correct speed to stay at exactly 90°. In other words, they need to know the exact speed of the radar's rotation, so they can match it. The chances of there only being 1 radar to avoid, however, is slim to none, and Slim has left town. Most military tend to pack their search radar sites so their coverage areas overlap one another to a greater or lesser extent, thus obviating the "Beaming" choice. If you beam one radar, another will "see" you.

    Then, you could take a much longer route, to an area where there are few if any search radar systems posted. Say the target is covered well on it's southern border. Go around to the north, then in. Fine, if you have access to the airspaces involved, which is very seldom the case. So, now you not only need clearance, and hope those areas don't rat you out to the target area, but now you have factor in fatigue, boredom of long flights, aerial refuel points etc etc.

    You can come into the radar's coverage area low. I mean LOW, not just low. Ground based radar systems tend to look up for aircraft, oddly enough, and below a certain altitude are blind. Usually, below about 500' will do the trick. However, now your fuel usage goes UP, dramatically for jet aircraft. So again, you need to set up aerial refueling, and the attack aircraft may well need to reduce their weapons load to be able to make the run. Additionally, TFR (Terrain Following) is pretty dangerous. There are also things called Aerostats, which are large, tethered, Balloons, with a search radar hung under them. They look down to "see" what ground based radars miss. Work very well too. I used to work on one such system, and we saw ultralights trying to sneak across the US/Mexican border at 300' AGL.

    There is also the method of sending the Wild Weasels in to destroy some of the radar installations to open a "blind" route into the target area. This tells the target they're coming, though. Unless you send the Weasels to destroy the radars of several possible targets, at various times, so the enemy isn't sure which is the target to be attacked. You can also send some sections in as feints, making a run after the Weasels get done, but aborting before it get's dangerous, or heading to a different target after heading towords one target. This permits the real attack to sneak in while they are looking another way for the attacking planes.

    I can't speak to the other planes, but the newer F/A-18's (E/F/G models) have been designed with many "stealth" features. Airframe design features learned from the F-117, radar-absorbtive paint, and so on, which dramatically reduce the plane's radar cross-section. Couple this with one or more of the other methods, and they work pretty well for sneaking into a target.
    As well, the Hornet is designed to fight in, attack, fight out, if necessary.

    So yes, they have a pretty large Swerling cross-section, but there are ways to eliminate this as a factor. And let's face it, as much as I love them, most of the "teen" series fighters are better at this than the Phantom was, sadly. Lower Swerling Class, greater range and payload, etc.

    Just me opinion, for what it's worth, though...
    Pat☺
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    USMC, 10 years proud service.
    Inactive now...

  14. #14
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    Favor the excellent F-14 and F-18 . Two very different aircraft . Worked on weapon systems on the F-14 and fell in love with that big bird.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tuor2112 View Post
    Ok I am not an expert but doesn't the F16 (and F-14/15 ect) have a relatively large radar and infrared signature? A 5th generation fighter or latest ground/naval system would see them way to soon to be comfortable!
    In thinking strategically I would use them as a feint to get the enemy to come after them and then attack them from another direction with stealth fighters...
    Ted
    Vivat Christus Rex! Ad maiorem Dei gloriam

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by txnetcop View Post
    In thinking strategically I would use them as a feint to get the enemy to come after them and then attack them from another direction with stealth fighters...
    Ted
    Funny thing is, the alleged F -117 is actually more of a bomber than a fighter. They mis-named it that way on purpose, to throw off any spies looking at/for it. Maybe really should be designated the A-117 than F-117. It was the first gen stealth, and they've improved the tech since, but it still does a pretty good job. At night, anyway

    Funny little story, if I may, about the F-117. When they were flight testing it out of Dreamland, they called our Aerostat site, which had beautiful coverage of the testing area. Told us to turn the radar OFF. After a few minutes, they asked us if we could "see" their bird on our scope. Radar still off, mind you. Naturally, we said no, we can't. They then said "See how well the Stealth tech works??"
    When given permission, we turned the radar back on, of course, and could see it pretty well. Kind of small for a plane like that, and somewhat intermittant primary returns, but it WAS there.

    Hope the tech has gotten a lot better since then!
    Hope they get the politics out of it too, but figger the odds...

    Have fun all!
    Pat☺
    Fly Free, always!
    Sgt of Marines
    USMC, 10 years proud service.
    Inactive now...

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