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Rushed Flightline Friday: early F-16 July 24, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.

Pretty good video on the early development of the F-16 from Air Force Systems Command in 1977. It provides a lot of detail on the F-16, including its ability to radically outmaneuver preceding jets like the F-4E (not sure if the comparison was to F-4E with fixed slats or not – they made a big difference in Phantom maneuverability).

The F-16A was quite a bit different from the F-16. There is a shot at ~8:30 that shows many of the differences: the inlet was enlarged, the nose was significantly enlarged to provide room for the air-cooled APG-66/68 radar, the fuselage was made a bit wider and deeper to hold more fuel.  The arrogant “fighter mafia” led by McNamara favorites Pierre Sprey, Col. Everest Riccione, Chuck Spinney (founder of the hard left Center for Defense Information, which has opposed every single moderate or major defense program of the past 45 years) decried all these changes, but chief F-16 designer Harry Hillaker said that if GD had built the plane the fighter mafia wanted – a totally stripped down F-104 type with nothing but a gun and two Sidewinders, with no range at all – it would have been a failure.  He was right.

I have a huge beef with Sprey, Riccione, and Spinney. For one thing, they remain stuck firmly in the mid-60s.  They’ve never managed to get over that experience, of being “whiz kids” proved utterly wrong in having forced an aircraft with no gun and problematic maneuverability on all three services (the Phantom).  So they continue to trot out extremely antiquated and disproven “data” to oppose every new fighter since the F-16, which they unreasonably regard as their brainchild.  Things like “air to air missiles work less than 10% of the time” – true for 1967, but not for 2015.  Since the Gulf War, the effectiveness of air to air missiles has been greater than 50%.  Take everything they say with a huge grain of salt, and know they have opposed the F-15 (most successful air-superiority fighter ever), E-3 “AWACS” (probably the single most important factor in providing US air superiority in all conflicts since 1975), the unbelievably capable F-22 (they contributed to the disastrous decision to cancel production after only 187 airframes, knee-capping USAF air superiority capability for decades), and even the F-35 (which ain’t great, but at this point, its the only show in town).

Another interesting point: the presenter in the video, then Brig. Gen. James Abrahamson, had quite a colorful career.  Unknown to outsiders, he played a very significant role in bringing the F-16 to fruition, and led the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initative throughout most of the 80s.  Prior to that, he was selected as a USAF astronaut in 1967 to fly on the eventually cancelled KH-10 Manned Orbiting Laboratory, and flew F-100s in combat over Vietnam.  I did a paper on SDI back in high school (actually, three papers I think, I kept recycling the one I did in 10th grade and nobody caught on), and because I’m a life member of the Air Force Association and hence receive Air Force Magazine (and have since I was 13), I had a bunch of USAF-centric articles on SDI to use.  Gen. Abrahamson figured heavily in all those articles, so I wound up knowing quite a bit about the guy.  He was a consummate USAF pilot-politician, an extremely effective program manager and reputed all-around straight shooter.  Every program he managed seemed to have been managed well.

Have a good weekend:

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