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F-16 Adv. As Alternative To F-35  
User currently offlineTexL1649 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 296 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 11017 times:

Ok, hypothetically, if the F-35 lobby loses out with a potentially down-ward pressure on DoD modernization schedules, could the -16 line be kept open with a new variant to keep TAC air near current levels? I'd guess the answer from LM would of course be yes, if forced into it, but my bigger question is this; would the larger F-2 wing ever get imported back now that the engineering has all been (finally) completed (from the original Agile Falcon project circa 1989-ish?)

There would be a strange parallel here with the USN Super Hornet program where as the cheaper way to modernize (vs. the F-35), a new larger Falcon could enable the USAF to avoid some larger expenditures. The larger wing would enable more fuel/munitions obviously, and thus help the bomber role, and the decreased total expenditure might enable off-loading more of the deep strike roles to a smaller number of stealthy UCAV's (X-47, for example).

Curious what the board's thoughts would be.

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10977 times:

Who knows what will happen. The F-16XL was turned down more or less so more F-15's could be acquired.

User currently offlineDEVILFISH From Philippines, joined Jan 2006, 4840 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 10901 times:

The F-35 is the result of experiments done on the Falcon, so any new spending to bring the F-16 up to date would be a waste of funds as that, theoretically, would just be rehashing the same things. Also, there are those who view the F-16 as overmatched by the MiG-35 and Su-35 being offered by Russia in various ongoing fighter tenders, and therefore are more inclined to favor an updated Eagle.

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...ld-put-f-16xl-back-in-the-air.html

That being said, if push comes to shove, perhaps the USAF could get brand new Super Eagles and the ANG, F-16NGs with all future options thrown in (especially an AESA radar), and export their existing Falcons to friendly Air Forces through FMS to balance global numbers. Such a scheme may offset costs a bit. Less developed countries could opt for the earlier ANG models, while economies which could better afford it might acquire the USAF fighters, or buy some other Western types altogether.

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/f16/f16futureopts.html

Of course, all those other nations would likely be in similar dire straits (if not worse), and therefore not in a position to renew their forces. There's no saying how this would be helpful to the likes of the Gripen NG, although the mooted supersonic KAI F/A-50 could benefit enormously if given the proposed scaleable AESA radar. Failing all these, it is status quo for all, as it's doubtful potential adversaries would be wallowing in wealth.



"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
User currently offlineTexL1649 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 296 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 10883 times:

Yes, I both agree and understand it would be "a step backward" in many respects. (And I also had qualms with the decision, back in the day, in favor of the -15E over the -16XL. But I don't think that will ever get re-visited.)

The work done on the F-2's larger wing (and tail) was substantial and recent comparatively, and with an AESA (and consequently smaller radome), plus conformal tanks and some communications/network enhancements it would still be nearly the dogfighter the latest block 60's are, or more if thrust vectoring were also added .

Finally, if you're thinking about a new engine (for vectoring) then you'd have to consider adding a variable geometry inlet also, and suddenly between the inlet and smaller (original?) radome there might be some stealthy benefits too. The XL was/is a beautiful aircraft/option, but it would as with the F-35 be substantially limited in air to air engagements, by comparison, and the wing on the F-2 is what really peaks my interest in the alternative.

This is all just rank speculation, not an advocacy that such a series of program decisions be made. The F-16(H) would be a very stout competitor, as well vs. the latest Mig products and could allow greater use/procurement of UCAVs, while potentially easing fleet upgrades/maintenance budget problems..


User currently offlineSv7887 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 1025 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 10877 times:



Quoting DEVILFISH (Reply 2):
That being said, if push comes to shove, perhaps the USAF could get brand new Super Eagles and the ANG, F-16NGs with all future options thrown in (especially an AESA radar), and export their existing Falcons to friendly Air Forces through FMS to balance global numbers. Such a scheme may offset costs a bit. Less developed countries could opt for the earlier ANG models, while economies which could better afford it might acquire the USAF fighters, or buy some other Western types altogether.

I think you are right. Given the cost pressures on the USAF, I don't see how they are going to manage to afford the F-22, F-35, and a new fleet of tankers. I think it makes the most sense to have a fleet of F-22s to kick down the door, establish air superiority and have the Super Eagles handle the rest. I don't see them managing to get 400+ F-22's in this financial and political climate...


User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12564 posts, RR: 25
Reply 5, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 10780 times:



Quoting TexL1649 (Reply 3):
Finally, if you're thinking about a new engine (for vectoring) then you'd have to consider adding a variable geometry inlet also, and suddenly between the inlet and smaller (original?) radome there might be some stealthy benefits too. The XL was/is a beautiful aircraft/option, but it would as with the F-35 be substantially limited in air to air engagements, by comparison, and the wing on the F-2 is what really peaks my interest in the alternative.

Am still not sure you could move all the R&D onto the F-16 and end up with a plane that is all that much cheaper than the F-35. Add on to that the international commitments to F-35, and it makes it hard to change horses in midstream.

Quoting Sv7887 (Reply 4):
I think you are right. Given the cost pressures on the USAF, I don't see how they are going to manage to afford the F-22, F-35, and a new fleet of tankers. I think it makes the most sense to have a fleet of F-22s to kick down the door, establish air superiority and have the Super Eagles handle the rest. I don't see them managing to get 400+ F-22's in this financial and political climate...

Please, let us re-engine the KC-135s and be done with it for another 15-25 years or so, when we'll probably have a whole different idea on what mission we have for tankers.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (5 years 11 months 8 hours ago) and read 10536 times:



Quoting Revelation (Reply 5):
Am still not sure you could move all the R&D onto the F-16 and end up with a plane that is all that much cheaper than the F-35. Add on to that the international commitments to F-35, and it makes it hard to change horses in midstream.

I have to agree. You're not going to get any of the branches of service that are anticipating receiving the F-35 to take a step backwards and ask for an upgraded F-16. There would be international repercussions for doing that.



Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (5 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 10425 times:



Quoting TexL1649 (Thread starter):
TexL1649

Good topic! nearly posted it myself.

I think the real threath to the JSF, but also Rafale, Eurofighter, Grippen is the emerging upgrade battle between NG and Raytheon offering AESA radars like Sabre together with a few powerfull blackboxes and bigger cockpit screens and datalinks for the existing huge F16 fleet.



A 25 yr old F16 fleet with an AESA radars, the latest new weapons, DASH-3 helmets and network capabilities is a pretty mean assett for little money...

Cash problems make the industry creative..


User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 9912 times:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/f16/f16futureopts.html

Assuming you added all of these enhancements, how far would they stretch the F-16s service life, given the presence of the latest generation of tactical aircraft? Would it be worth it to spend the money on these enhancements when there appears to be nothing being done to add stealth charateristics to the airplane?



Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 9765 times:



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 6):
I have to agree. You're not going to get any of the branches of service that are anticipating receiving the F-35 to take a step backwards and ask for an upgraded F-16. There would be international repercussions for doing that.

Especially the USN and USMC. Can't land an F-16ADV on a carrier or LHD.


User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 9701 times:



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 8):
Assuming you added all of these enhancements, how far would they stretch the F-16s service life, given the presence of the latest generation of tactical aircraft? Would it be worth it to spend the money on these enhancements when there appears to be nothing being done to add stealth charateristics to the airplane?



Quoting LMP737 (Reply 9):
Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 6):
I have to agree. You're not going to get any of the branches of service that are anticipating receiving the F-35 to take a step backwards and ask for an upgraded F-16. There would be international repercussions for doing that.

Especially the USN and USMC. Can't land an F-16ADV on a carrier or LHD.

I think the scenario is to upgrade your exiting fleet of F16 to F16 Aesa standard fly them until 2020-2022 and then buy the improved JSF or whatever is available then.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 9680 times:



Quoting Keesje (Reply 10):
I think the scenario is to upgrade your exiting fleet of F16 to F16 Aesa standard fly them until 2020-2022 and then buy the improved JSF or whatever is available then.

If a country that flies F-16's is going to have them around till 2020 they will have to do a lot more than just put a new radar in it. Were talking major structural work. As for the USAF I don't think the money will be there to equip it with an AESA.


User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 9654 times:



Quoting LMP737 (Reply 11):
If a country that flies F-16's is going to have them around till 2020 they will have to do a lot more than just put a new radar in it. Were talking major structural work. As for the USAF I don't think the money will be there to equip it with an AESA.

Indeed structural work has to be done. Most F16 have a lot of structural lifetime left. Airforce scaled down flying hours after the cold war. The amount of money saved is staggering and the result a very acceptable platform.

http://www.f-16.net/news_article3057.html


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9552 times:



Quoting Keesje (Reply 12):
Indeed structural work has to be done. Most F16 have a lot of structural lifetime left. Airforce scaled down flying hours after the cold war. The amount of money saved is staggering and the result a very acceptable platform.

I don't know about other air forces but the aircraft of the USAF are getting quite a workout right now. Now it's possible that older USAF will need serious rework if utilization continues as is and the JSF has further delays. With that it would not be totally unreasonable to have an AESA radar fitted to keep it viable.

However going back to the OP I don't think a new build would ever be seen in USAF colors. Too much has been invested in the JSF already. The USN, USMC and UK MoD would have a fit if the USAF tried. Money spent on an F-16ADV is money not spent on the JSF.


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