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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.
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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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