Skip to comments.F-35 vs. F-16 Range - The Ghastly Truth
Posted on 03/31/2010 4:44:27 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
F-35 vs. F-16 Range - The Ghastly Truth
Posted by Bill Sweetman at 3/31/2010 5:49 AM CDT
Since the last T-50 post degenerated into the 110th Ares JSF flame war, I thought I'd continue the discussion in a separate thread. In particular, Solomon wanted to know my source for a 630 nm range figure for the F-16. Here it is:
Lockheed Martin brochure c.1998
The best F-16 you could get today - like a Block 60 or the Israeli F-16I (also sold to Singapore) should do better than that, because lots of people will sell you an internal active jamming system, permitting you to ditch the ALQ-184, an F110-GE-132 engine will get you to best altitude quicker, and JDAMs are slicker than GBU-10s.
As for the F-35A, let's look (once again) at LockMart data, from the executive summary provided to Norway in 2008:
Ah, you say, 728 nm is still better than 630 nm. Well, yes, but there's a catch. Another chart from the same document gives more detail:
No low-altitude penetration - just a drop below the cloudbase to ID a maritime target. Smaller 500-pound bombs and two fewer missiles - with maximum external fuel. Only the inboard pylons can carry tanks, and the "18,000 pounds" includes all external and internal stations - and there are 11 total, not external, stations. So you can't "load the aircraft like an F-16" and extend the range.
The only options beyond the configuration here are to carry more or heavier weapons, but that will degrade the range. And the reduction, beyond substituting 2000 pound internal JDAMs for the GBU-12S, may be rapid. As noted here before, the F-35 gains suprisingly little range - only 8 per cent - from the 30 per cent fuel load increase that you get from external tanks. That tells us that the drag is very sensitive to external stores, increased weight or a combination of the two.
How does this happen with a bigger, more powerful, much more expensive and newer-technology airplane? Part of the answer is that external fuel is a pretty good way of cheating the range equation, because as you use up the fuel you shed the weight and wetted area of the tanks. Also, the structure that accommodates the F-35A's internal fuel has to be stressed to 9g and 8000 hours. Drop tanks don't. Less easily estimated factors for the F-35: a broad forward fuselage and relatively short-span wing (ten feet less than the similar-weight Super Hornet), both dictated by the STOVL version.
Which brings me back to this post from last year....
Absolutely not true.
Aviation week and all the other anti-F35 rags can KMFA.
If we ever had another major global war on the scale of World War II, I seriously doubt this nation could ever again build the necessary numbers of ships, tanks, and planes of sufficient capabilities to win it.
Also, I’ve read Sweetman for years, and he generally knows what he’s talking about.
there’s a lot of that going around.
I don’t have the slightest idea what to believe anymore.
It is indeed sad to see the industrial capacity of the United States to be degraded to this extent.
for the cost
an F35 should be named after a US state
Does it really make sense to compare capabilities using sales brochures?
They said FU to the F-16U?..............
California?............It's going broke.................
Maybe we should wait for Consumer Reports?.................
I believe I’ll have another drink...............
This sort of controversy nearly killed the B-1 and the F-18 among others.
I think if the F-35 can ever get into production it will surprise many a detractor and be a fantastic airplane.
My 0.000002$, I wish they would have put about a 2’ wingspan extension on the Air Force version. Of course these things you never really find out into until the aircraft has been in operation for awhile.
The people in the know, Gates, the Air Force etc are still for it.
I dont agree with that, but the problem is WW2 will pale to next major war IMO.
It's all about payload/range versus aerodynamics/speed. That relationship defines operational characteristics.
Fuel capacity is now largely irrelevant due to airborne refueling. There is now more emphasis on all-weather target aquisition and ordnance.
You might appreciate this email that's been circulating:
John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN )
for 6 am. While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA )
was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG )
He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA ),
designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE )
and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA )
After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA )
he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO )
to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN )
to the radio (MADE IN INDIA )
he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY )
filled it with GAS (from Saudi Arabia )
and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.
At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his Computer (made in MALAYSIA ),
John decided to relax for a while.
He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL ),
poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE )
and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA ),
and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA .
AND NOW HE'S HOPING HE CAN GET HELP FROM A PRESIDENT
MADE IN KENYA
By Stephen Trimble on March 17, 2010 5:08 PM
Next time Russian air force modernization comes up to justify more spending on US fighters, please consider this article by RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik. No matter how badly the so-called "fighter gap" grows in the US tactical aircraft inventory, Moscow's problem is even worse, as Kramnik describes.
Kramnik forecasts the USAF will reduce its fixed wing and helicopter fleets from 5,000 to 3,000-3,500 over the next 10 years. Of those, 1,700-2,000 will be combat aircraft.
Russia's Ministry of Defense has signed a flurry of recent fighter orders, but even those don't dramatically change the overall picture, as Kramnik writes.
The Russian Air Force now has about 2,800 aircraft, including nearly 1,500 warplanes. The air fleet is expected to decline still further. Virtually all un-modernized aircraft will be scrapped at the end of their service life.
Consequently, the Air Force will have some 1,500-1,700 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, including only about 800 combat-ready warplanes. The number could increase if additional state defense contracts are awarded. Options are currently being considered.
Is this enough or not? The industrial world, including Russia, the NATO countries and the United States, continues to scale down its air forces. This is an objective process. The number of newly procured aircraft does not equal the number of planes currently being decommissioned, most of which were built in the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s.
Such reductions are motivated by some objective factors, including the end of the Cold War and plunging industrial world defense spending (relative to GDP), and subjective factors, including vastly superior modern combat equipment efficiency rendering it unnecessary to replace older aircraft one for one.