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Flightline Friday Extra: Early Viper Mania May 23, 2016

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

The excellent San Diego Air and Space Museum (I’ve been there – Sandy Eggo is the best city in CA for my money) has a very enjoyable Youtube channel wherein they post videos stemming from San Diego-based defense contractors – most notably, Convair/General Dynamics, Teledyne Ryan, and General Atomics.

They’ve been posting a flood of wonderful early F-16 videos, mostly from General Dynamics.  These are both great timepieces and very informative.  There are really too many for me to list, but I give some of the better ones below (enjoy your groove to the late 70s music, too):

First up, some fascinating (and, to my knowledge, heretofore unreleased) footage of early attempts at integrating the semi-active radar homing (SARH) AIM-7 Sparrow missile capability into the F-16.  What was new to me are the missile mounting rails on the landing gear doors!  Innovative, but I can see why Air Forces would balk at the idea.  Sparrow integration into the F-16 was a long and arduous process, the original APG-66 radar was not intended to guide SARH missiles and so lacked the continuous wave illumination system that radars like the APQ-120 in the F-4E Phantom II possessed.  Everyone figured it would be very easy to provide a Sparrow capability to the F-16, but in reality, it took 10 years and a quite different radar. In the end, the Sparrow was only really used on air defense variants of the F-16A (equipped with the special radar), while the F-16 gained its all weather radar guided missile capability with the far more capable, active-guidance (no in-flight illumination from the a/c required) AIM-120 AMRAAM:

Touting the F-16s ground attack capabilities.  True aficionados will observe @~0.10 and various other points, the smaller nose of the original YF-16 before the nose was redesigned to accommodate the more capable APG-66 radar.  Eat dirt, Pierre Sprey.  Also observe the F-16 leave the F-4D chase aircraft behind on takeoff. Sorry, sound pretty bad on this one, but the footage is teh awesome. @~8:14 you can easily see how much tighter an F-16 could turn than an F-4E (slatted wing) at 500 kts and probably 25-30k ft:

I wish someone would post this kind of awesome internal PR material from other manufacturers!  Republic had some fantastic material on the A-10 but I haven’t been able to find it.  America’s very proud aerospace industry had been kind of humbled during the Vietnam experience, and the late 70s/early 80s were a time when they were getting their legs back and strutting their stuff.  There’s never been material like it before or since.  Witness the glorious simulated combat between F-16s and English Electric Lightnings!  Do I even need to say who won?:

The 388FW at Hill mentioned in the video above is now in the process of transitioning from the F-16 to the F-35.  For many reasons, I don’t think we’ll see too many videos from LockMart bragging on the unprecedented operational readiness of the F-35 anytime soon.

A few more, mostly general flight demonstrations with various countries.  First one has good footage but the audio is in Spanish, quite possibly associated with the sale of F-16s to Venezuela in the early 80s:

This one has pilots from various countries singing the bird’s praises (watch for loud buzzing sound the first 2 seconds):

Not sure how many readers are familiar with a dramatically altered variant of the F-16 that flew in 1979 and was intended to compete for the Air Force’s Enhanced Tactical Fighter competition to provide a dedicated long-range strike aircraft to supplement the F-111 fleet.  The F-16XL was the result of that effort, and even though it lost to the F-15E, it was an impressive aircraft in its own right.  Chief F-16 designer Harry Hillaker has said had he known the F-16 would be used primarily as a ground attack aircraft in service, his original design would have been more like the F-16XL than the F-16 most are familiar with.  The F-16XL had a cranked delta wing, lengthened fuselage, and numerous weapons pylons.  Unfortunately, the video is silent:

Finally, a dedicated research variant of the F-16, the F-16 CCV or control configured vehicle.  A highly modified F-16 intended to push the envelope of intentionally unstable designs controlled by fly-by-wire, the F-16CCV could do all kinds of novel things, like move sideways without banking or gaining/losing altitude, go up or down without changing the orientation of the nose relative to the airstream, or point its nose up/down left/right without changing the direction of vehicle travel.

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