Search this Site

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon


The American General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, unofficially known as "Viper" (after a starfighter from the show Battlestar Galactica.) by its pilots, first flew on February 2nd 1974, and was introduced about four, and a half years later, on August 17th, 1978. It was originally designed to be a lightweight fighter, but successfully evolved from that to become a multirole aircraft. Production run started in the year 1976, and until now, there are 4 200 built. Although production has stopped for the United States Air Force, F-16s are still being built for export to other countries. It is currently in service with 24 different nations, and is the largest Western Fighter Program in History. This success is due to the versatility of this aircraft, and also to the price that comes along with it (about U.S.$20 million).

An F-16C of the United States Air Force, 120th Fighter Squadron, 140th Fighter Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, returns to Cold Wing Canada, after disengaging from a refueling boom (Note fuel port is still open.), during the second Tiger Meet of the Americas. For a squadron to be invited to this event, only one simple criterion is required, which is the unit must have a Tiger, or any other Big Cat as their unit's insignia, or mascot. (Photographed by SMSGT John P. Rohrer, United States Air Force. September 17th, 2003.)

Origin...

The McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle, developed after the United States Air Force underestimated the abilities of the Soviet MiG-25 "Foxbat", was, to the 'fighter mafia', a jet fighter that was too large, and expensive. This particular group agitated for the development of the Light Weight Fighter program, and eventually won a tiny sum of money to conduct studies into such a design ($149 000~$715 000 year 2000 dollars.). In May 1971, the United States Congress finally proposed funding the Light Weight Fighter Program with $50 million, and an additional $ 12 million the next year. Two companies, General Dynamics, and Northrop were selected to build prototypes for head-to-head testing. In 1974, the prototypes were ready, and begun extensive testing. The conclusion was decided on 13th January, 1975, when the Secretary of the Air Force announced the selection of the General Dynamics' YF-16, beating Northrop's YF-17. However, the YF-17 design was not totally abandoned, even though being a lightweight fighter, it was scaled up to become the F/A-18 Hornet, introduced on 7th January, 1983, which is almost equal to the size of the original F-15 Eagle, although a bit smaller.

Design...

The McDonnel Douglas F-16 Fighting Falcon, built as a lightweight fighter, is simpler, and lighter than its predecessors, but has advanced aerodynamics, and avionics. It has only one engine, contrary to the other aircrafts currently in service with the United States Military. It was the first jet aircraft to use fly-by-wire systems, which earned it the nickname, "electric jet".

The Fighting Falcon is the first deliberate fighter designed to hold-up in 9-g turns.The reclined seat (30 degrees, 13 degrees is typical.) reduces the effects of the g-forces acting on the pilot when in a sharp turn, and the side-mounted control stick eases the pilot's control over the aircraft when under high g-forces. These are not the only features of the F-16 Fighting Falcon that makes it a dogfighter, but are the most essential ones.

The F-16 also has a single-piece, bubble canopy giving the pilot an unobstructed field of view that is critical in a dogfight, and any other situations. A reclined seat (30 degrees. Normally, a jet's seat is reclined around only 13 degrees.) increases the area of the pilot's view, while the Heads Up Display (H.U.D.) aids the pilot in understanding the situation around him/her, without looking down at his instrument panel. The cockpit of the F-16 uses the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (J.H.M.C.S.), which was first deployed operationally during Operation Iraqi Freedom (From Block 52 onwards.). In addition, the Fighting Falcon's F100-PW-229 Engine boosts the thrust-to-weight ratio of this jet to greater than one, which enables it to accelerate in a vertical climb, that is when it is necessary. This is also present in the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle.


General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon accelerating in a vertical climb. (No elaborate description, place, date, or photographer available. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.)

Setbacks, and controversies...

The features of the F-16 which General Dynamics had claimed to be helpful to the pilot in high g-turns remains controversial to this day. The reclined seat makes it difficult to look at the rear of the aircraft, as well as putting the pilot at more risk of a neck ache. Some have even suggested that the reclined seat's actual benefit to in terms of g-capability is very close to zero, while the real reason is to let the seat fit in the cockpit. The side-mounted stick makes it hard to operate controls on the centre, or the other side of the cockpit, forcing the pilot to use his left hand to do the job. As the F-16's canopy is single-piece, it is much thicker than in most aircraft, where only the portion between the nose, and the cockpit frame has to be thick enough to reduce any damage caused by a bird. This thickness results to a heavy canopy, which offsets the speed, and maneuverability of the Fighting Falcon, but only by a little.

Nevertheless, some of these features are present in newer planes, such as the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor, which has a single-piece canopy as well.

Stalling...

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon has a major setback that could cause the death of any one of its pilots. Stalling. Although it is highly maneuverable, the relaxed weight-to-lift distribution, and stability of the design causes unpredictable, and difficult stall behavior. Stalling on a typical aircraft would cause it to assume a nose-down attitude, which is easily correctable, as that attitude allows for a restoration of proper airflow over the control surfaces, and wings. However, stalling for an F-16 includes either assuming a level attitude, while actually falling out of the sky, or preferring to retain its attitude at that moment. Recovering from any of the two situations is one of the last thing a pilot wants to focus on in a dogfight. The first thing the pilot must know is that air does not pass over the control surfaces of the aircraft in the intended direction, which means that he has almost no control over the aircraft's attitude. Fortunately, the Flight Control Computer prevents the pilot from placing the aircraft in a "high-alpha" situation, by limiting the Angle of Attack. This, however, only reduces the risk of stalls, as they can still occur at the right moment. And if it does, the alpha-limiter will freeze the control surfaces, which actually does more harm than good, as it prevents the pilot from doing the appropriate actions to recover. It therefore must be overridden for the pilot to regain control.

Armament...

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon uses a M61 Vulcan gatling gun, and can carry rockets, air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, as well as, anti-ship missiles. It could also carry a variety of bombs, even a B61 nuclear bomb. For a full list of its armament, please scroll down to the Specifications section.

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon participated in...
(2008)
  • the 1981 raid that severely damaged an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad (Osiraq.). The F-16s were flown by Israeli pilots.
  • the 1981 first air-to-air "kill" for the F-16 Fighting Falcon, when Israeli pilots shot down a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter, and MiG-21 "Fishbed".
  • the 1982 Lebanon War, or Operation Peace for Galilee.
  • the Soviet-Afghan War, which lasted from 1986-1988.
  • Operation Desert Storm. Five were lost in combat. (August 2nd, 1990- February 28th, 1991.)
  • the 1992 November Venezuelan Coup Attempt on the side of the loyalists. Two F-16 Fighting Falcons, under the hands of Venezuelan pilots, took part.
  • Operation Southern Watch, when F-16s of the United States Air Force had two air-to-air victories.
  • Bosnian peacekeeping operations in 1994- 1995. The F-16s were employed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • in the engagement between a Greek Mirage 2000, and a Turkish F-16D (The serial number is 91-0023.) over the Aegean Sea on October 1oth, 1996. It was the first, and only confirmed air-to-air kill of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The co-pilot was rescued by Greek forces, while the pilot did not make it.
  • Operation Desert Fox's bombing campaign (1998.).
  • Operation Allied Force. The F-16s were employed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • the Kargil War.
  • the United States intervention in Afghanistan since 2001.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Two F-16s killed the Al-Qaeda leader of Iraq, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (June 7th, 2006.), who was in an Al-Qaeda safehouse during the bombing raid. The F-16s accurately delivered two 500-pound guided bombs, one being an L.G.B. G.B.U.-12 bomb, and the other one being a G.P.S.-38 bomb, onto the target.
  • the 2006 Lebanon War. However, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon participation is not confirmed.
Operators...
  • Bahrain (22.).
  • Belgium (90.)
  • Chile ( 28.).
  • Denmark (48 in active duty+21 in storage.).
  • Egypt (220.).
  • Greece (131+30 on order.).
  • Jordan (58.).
  • Indonesia (12.).
  • Israel (322.).
  • Italy (34; Leased from the United States Air Force.)
  • Morocco (24 on order.).
  • Netherlands (82 in active duty+18 in storage.).
  • Norway (74 deliver, and 54 (2007.) in service.).
  • Oman (12.).
  • Pakistan (34 in active duty+44 on order+Further option of 34 more General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons.).
  • Poland (48.).
  • Portugal (45.).
  • Singapore (76.).
  • Republic of China (Taiwan.) (150.).
  • South Korea (180. 40 F-16C/D, and 140 KF-16C/D. KF-16C/D is built under license by the Korean Aerospace Industries.).
  • Thailand (61.).
  • Turkey (240 in active duty+30 on order. The F-16s are built under license by Turkish Aerospace Industries.).
  • United Arab Emirates (80.).
  • United States of America (1 245.). 1 F-16A Block 15, 197 F-16C/D Block 25, 350 F-16 C/D Block 30, 51 F-16C/D Block 32, 222 F-16C/D Block 40, 174 F-16C/D Block 42, 198 F-16C/D Block 50, and 52 F-16C/D Block 52. United States Air Force...Active-701. Reserve-54. Air national Guard-490. United States Navy...Active-40.
  • Venezuela (28.).
Specifications. Wikipedia.

General Characteristics...

Crew: 1.
Length: 49 ft 5 in (14.8 m).
Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in (9.8 m).
Height: 16 ft (4.8 m).
Wing area: 300 ft² (27.87 m²).
Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip.
Empty weight: 18,200 lb (8,270 kg).
Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg).
Max takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg).
Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 afterburning turbofan.
Dry thrust: 14,590 lbf (64.9 kN).
Thrust with afterburner: 23,770 lbf (105.7 kN).
Alternate powerplant: 1× General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan.
Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN).
Thrust with afterburner: 28,600 lbf (128.9 kN).

Performance...

Maximum speed:
At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,460 km/h).
At altitude: Mach 2+ (1,500 mph, 2,414 km/h).
Combat radius: 340 NM (295 mi, 550 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with six 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs.
Ferry range: >2,100 NM (2,420 NM, 3,900 km).
Service ceiling: >50,000 ft (15,239 m).
Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s).
Wing loading: 88.2 lb/ft² (431 kg/m²).
Thrust/weight: For F100 engine: 0.898, For F110: 1.095.

Armament...

Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan gatling gun, 511 rounds.
Rockets: 2¾ in (70 mm) CRV7.
Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles:
2× AIM-7 Sparrow or,
6× AIM-9 Sidewinder or,
6× AIM-120 AMRAAM or,
6× Python-4.
Air-to-ground missiles:
6× AGM-45 Shrike or,
6× AGM-65 Maverick or,
4× AGM-88 HARM.
Anti-ship missiles:
2× AGM-84 Harpoon or,
4× AGM-119 Penguin.
Bombs:
2× CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition or,
2× CBU-89 Gator mine or,
2× CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon or,
Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser capable or,
4× GBU-10 Paveway II or,
6× GBU-12 Paveway II or,
6× Paveway-series laser-guided bombs or,
4× JDAM or,
4× Mark 84 general-purpose bombs or,
8× Mark 83 GP bombs or,
12× Mark 82 GP bombs or,
B61 nuclear bomb.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

The McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle, introduced on 9th January, 1976, is one of the most successful aircraft in the world. No single F-15 was lost in combat. The F-15, being an all-weather tactical fighter, was designed to gain air superiority, and maintain it. Its development was for the United States Air Force, and the Eagle was flew in 27th July, 1972. One unit cost is approximately U.S.$30 million.

A United States Air Force F-15C Eagle taxiing for takeoff at the Royal International Tattoo, Royal Air Force Fairford, Gloucestershire, England. (Photographed by Adrian Pingstone. July 17th, 2006.)

Origin...

The McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle had its origins when the United States found out that the Soviet Union was building an aircraft designated the MiG-25, known to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as "Foxbat", which was intended to be an high-speed interceptor. However, the MiG-25's huge tailplanes, and vertical stabilizers (tail fins) made it seem like it was very maneuverable, and therefore must be an air superiority fighter. It worried the United States Air Force that this aircraft might perform better than any of the aircraft they have at the moment. However, this was not the case, the tailplanes, and vertical stabilizers (tail fins) of the MiG-25 was to prevent inertia coupling, that would happen in high speed, and altitude flight. The McDonnel Aircraft F-4 Phantom II was the only plane that had enough range, power, and maneuverability to deal with Soviet Fighters, but they could not engage targets at long ranges. As a result, the United States Air Force created the 'F-X' Program to build a new fighter that would overcome the setbacks of the F-4 Phantom, and the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle was developed.

Design...

The F-15 has fantastic maneuverability, which it owes to its high thrust-to-weight ratio, and low wing loading (weight-to-wing area ratio). These enable the Eagle to turn without losing airspeed. It can climb up to 9 000 m (30 000 ft.) in about 60 seconds. The F-15 has two Pratt & Whitney F100 Engines, which is so powerful, that the thrust output of both of them exceeds the weight of the Eagle, which allows it to accelerate in a Vertical Climb.

The F-15 Eagle's multi-mission avionics systems feature a Heads-Up Display (H.U.D.), Inertial Guidance System (I.N.S.), advanced radar, Ultra High Frequency (U.H.F.) communications, flight instruments, and Tactical Air Navigation (T.A.C.A.N.), and Instrument Landing System (ILS) recievers. In addition, the Eagle has a internally mounted, tactical electronic-warfare system, electronic countermeasures suite, "identification friend or foe" system, and a central digital computer.

The heads-up display, visible in any light condition, of the F-15 allows the pilot to gather information quickly to track, and destroy hostile aircraft, without looking down at the cockpit instruments.

The APG-63/70 Pulse-Doppler, a versatile radar that the F-15 uses, can look at both high-flying, and low-flying targets, without being confused by the ground cluttering. It can detect small high-speed targets beyond visual range (the maximum is 120 nautical miles, or 222 km or, 138.75 miles away.), close-up, or treetop altitude. The radar also feeds information into the central computer that will enable effective weapons delivery, with the capability to lock on to targets about 50 nautical miles (91 km, or 56.865 miles) away from the Eagle with an AIM-120 AMRAAM (pronounced as am-ram). If, in a dogfight, the radar would automatically acquire the enemy aircraft(s), and projects the information on the Heads-Up Display, while the Electronic Warfare System provides both automatic countermeasures against selected threats, and threat warning.

F-15E Strike Eagle...

A United States Air Force F-15E flying over Northern Iraq's snow covered mountains, doing a routine patrol of the skies in support of Operation Northen Watch. This Strike Eagle is from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, United Kingdom. (Photographed by Captain Patricia Lang, United States Air Force. February 18th, 1999.)

McDonnel Douglas designed the F-15 with "not pound for air-to-ground", and that is exactly what they did. The F-15 was a pure Fighter. But its potential for the Attack role became more, and more apparent as time passed, and it was realized in 1987 in the form of the F-15E Strike Eagle. The Strike Eagle is a two-seat, dual-role, strike aircraft that replaced the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark , and it can reach speeds up to Mach 2.5. It is a totally integrated fighter for all-weather, deep interdiction, and air-to-air missions. It is armed with L.A.N.T.I.R.N. pods, and a high-resolution APG-70 radar to provide thermal imagery for low-altitude, precision attack, and high-speed penetration on tactical targets in adverse weather, and at night. The rear cockpit is also upgraded with four multi-purpose C.R.T. displays for weapons managements, and aircraft systems. Finally, for coupled automatic terrain following, the McDonnel Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle has a triple redundant, digital Lear Siegler flight control system, which is enhanced by a ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system.

Armament...

The F-15, being a fighter, has the capability of using three different types of missiles, the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the AIM-7F Sparrow, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM. It operates with a conventional jet cannon, the M61A1 Gatling Gun, which is internally mounted, and uses a 20 mm round, with 940 rounds.

An F-15C of the United States Air Force, piloted by First Lieutenant Charles Schuck, fires an AIM-7 Sparrow over the Gulf of Mexico, supporting a Combat Archer air-to-air weapons system evaluation program mission. He is among the Airmen of the 71st Fighter Squadron deployed from Langley Air Force Base to support this mission. (Photographed by United States Air Force Master Sergeant Micheal Ammons. 2005. No exact date available, I apologize for any inconvenience.)

The McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle, and F-15E Strike Eagle participated in... (till 2008.)

  • Moshe Melnik of the Israeli Air Force made the first kill in an F-15 in the 1979, shooting down a MiG-21 "Fishbed".
  • the shooting down of 13 Syrian MiG-21 "Fishbed"s, and two MiG-25 "Foxbat"s, by Israeli pilots in the 1979-1981 Israeli-Lebanese border disputes.
  • the Bekaa Valley Operation.
  • the 1982 Lebanon War.
  • the shooting down of two F-4E Phantom IIs of the Iranian Air Force in June, 1984, during a border skirmish.
  • the Gulf War, and its various Operations.
  • Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Southern Watch.
  • Operation Provide Comfort.
  • Operation Denied Flight
  • Operation Allied Force.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations in Bosnia.
  • recent air expeditionary force deployments.
  • the accidental shooting down of two United States Air Force UH-60 Blackhawks in the Northern No-Fly Zone of Iraq. The F-15C pilots thought they were Iraq Hinds.

Operators... (F-15 only in Italic. F-15E only in Bold. Both in Bold Italic.)

  • United States of America.
  • Japan.
  • Israel.
  • Saudi Arabia.
  • Singapore.
  • South Korea.

Specifications. Wikipedia.

General Characteristics...

  • Crew: 1.
  • Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m).
  • Wingspan: 42 ft 10 in (13.05 m).
  • Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.63 m).
  • Wing area: 608 ft² (56.5 m²).
  • Airfoil: NACA 64A006.6 root, NACA 64A203 tip.
  • Empty weight: 28,000 lb (12,700 kg).
  • Loaded weight: 44,500 lb (20,200 kg).
  • Max takeoff weight: 68,000 lb (30,845 kg).
  • Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney F100-100,-220 or -229 afterburning turbofans.
  • Dry thrust: 17,450 lbf (77.62 kN) each.
  • Thrust with afterburner: 25,000 lbf for -220; 29,000 lbf for -229 (111.2 kN for -220; 129.0 kN for -229) each.

Performance...
  • Maximum speed:
  • High altitude: Mach 2.5+ (1,650 mph, 2,660 km/h).
  • Low altitude: Mach 1.2 (900 mph, 1,450 km/h).
  • Combat radius: 1,061 nmi (1,222 mi, 1,967 km) for interdiction mission.
  • Ferry range: 3,100 nmi (3,570 nmi, 5,745 km) with external conformal fuel tanks.
  • Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m).
  • Rate of climb: >50,000 ft/min (254 m/s).
  • Wing loading: 73.1 lb/ft² (358 kg/m²).
  • Thrust/weight: 1.12 (-220), 1.30 (-229).
Armament...
  • Guns: 1× internally mounted 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 gatling gun, 940 rounds.
  • Hardpoints: four wing, four fuselage, two wing stations, centerline station, optional fuselage. pylons with a capacity of 16,000 lb (7,300 kg).
  • Missiles:
  • AIM-7F Sparrow.
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM.
  • AIM-9 Sidewinders.

Avionics...
  • Radar:
  • Raytheon AN/APG-63, or AN/APG-70, or
  • (Although several F-15C aircraft were produced with APG-70 radar, all have been retrofitted to the AN/APG-63(V)1 configuration)
  • Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)1, or
  • Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (A.E.S.A.), or
  • Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (A.E.S.A.).
  • Both active AF and ANG F-15Cs will receive another (up to) 48 V3 units between 2009-2015, over the existing 19 aircraft.
  • Countermeasures:
  • AN/APX-76 or AN/APX-119 Identify Friend/Foe (I.F.F.) interrogator.
  • Magnavox AN/ALQ-128 Electronic Warfare Warning Set (E.W.W.S.) -part of Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems (T.E.W.S.).
  • Loral AN/ALR-56 Radar Warning Receiver (R.W.R.)-part of Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems (T.E.W.S.).
  • Northrop ALQ-135 Internal Countermeasures System (I.C.S.) - part of Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems (T.E.W.S.).
  • AN/ALE-45 chaff/flare dispensers.
  • Others:
  • Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.

Other facts...

  • F-15 Eagles has a combined kill record of 104 kills-0 loses in air combat. (all air forces.)
  • Over half of the F-15 Eagle's kills were made by pilots of the Israeli Air Force.
  • The F-15 is a satellite-killer, using the ASM-135 Anti-Satellite (A.S.A.T.) missile.
  • All F-15 aircraft of the United States Air Force were grounded when a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C came apart mysteriously in flight, and crashed on November 2nd, 2007. The F-15Es were cleared for continued operations. On January 8th, 2008, the United States Air Force Air Combat Command cleared a portion of its F-15 A-D models fleet for return to flight status. The rest of the F-15 models (A-D) were cleared on February 15th, 2008 for Engineering Reviews, Flight Pending Inspections, and any required repairs. It was suspected that a critical location in the Upper Longerons caused the failure, resulting to the tear away of the fuselage forward of the air intakes, including the cockpit, and radome, to seperate from the airframe. A report that was released on January 10th, 2008, indicated that nine other F-15s had the problem too. As a result, the F-15's "long-term future is in the question." as stated by General John D. W. Corley. The grounding forced some states to rely on Canada's jet fighters for air defense protection. Alaska had to depend on the Canadian Forces' support.

*To view some awesome pictures of the F-15 Eagle, please click here.

Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum"

A Russian-made 4th Generation jet fighter aircraft, the Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum" is designed for the air superiority role, and was developed to counter the new American-built F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, and F/A-18 Hornet at that time. It was introduced on August, 1983, and is currently operated by 17 countries, with 6 former operators.

Russian Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum" parked on the ramp after a demonstration flight for the attendees at the Abbotsford Air Show. (Photographed by M.S.G.T. Pat Nugent. July 1st, 1989.)

MiG-29 Operators... (Bold for former operators)
  • Algeria.
  • Armenia.
  • Azerbalgin.
  • Bangladesh.
  • Belarus.
  • Bulgaria.
  • Cuba.
  • Czechoslovakia.
  • Czech Republic.
  • Eritrea.
  • East Germany.
  • Germany.
  • Hungary.
  • India.
  • Iran.
  • Iraq.
  • Kazakhstan.
  • Malaysia.
  • Moldova.
  • Myanmar.
  • North Korea.
  • Peru.
  • Poland.
  • Romania.
  • Russia.
  • Serbia.
  • Slovakia.
  • Soviet Union.
  • Sudan.
  • Syria.
  • Turkmenistan.
  • Ukraine.
  • Uzbekistan.
  • Yemen.
  • Yugoslavia.

The History...

The MiG-29, and the similar, but larger Sukhoi Su-27, had a history that started in 1969, when the Soviet Union learnt about the United States Air Force's 'F-X' program, which resulted to the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle. They soon realised that this new American Fighter would outclass every fighter they had in their arsenal. What they needed was a better-balanced fighter with both good agility, and sophisticated systems. So, the Soviet General Staff issued a requirement for a Perspektivnyi Frontovoi Istrebitel (PFI, which translated into English is "Perspective Frontline Fighter"). The Specifications were almost impossible, which called for long range, good short-field performance (including the ability to use austere runways), Mach 2+ speed, excellent agility, and heavy armament. The end result is the Mikoyan MiG-29 "Fulcrum".

The MiG-29 "Fulcrum" participated in...

  • The Gulf War with the Iraqis.
  • One Cuban MiG-29 shot down 2 civilian Cessna 337s which belonged to the Brothers to the Rescue organization in 1996.
  • Two Syrian MiG-29s were shot down by Israeli aircraft over the Mediterranean. Both pilots ejected, and were safely recovered by Syrian ships.
  • The Kargil War under Indian hands. They provided fighter escort for Mirage 2000s dropping laser-guided bombs on enemy ground targets, and also played a major role in maintaining the air superiority over the skies of Kashmir during the Summer of 1999.

The Design...

The MiG-29 is aerodynamically similar to the Sukhoi Su-27, but there are a few notable differences between them. The MiG-29 is largely made up of aluminium, and some composite materials. It has a mid-mounted swept wing with blended leading-edge root extensions (LERXs) swept at approximately 40 degrees. On the trailing edge, there are maneuvering flaps, and ailerons. Two vertical fins, and swept tailplanes are mounted on booms that are outboard of the engine. On the leading edges of the wings, automatic slats are mounted; four-segment on early models, and five-segment on later variants.

The Armament...

A standard MiG-29 has a single GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon in the port wing root, which originally had a 150-round magazine, but was reduced to a 100-round magazine in later versions of this aircraft. Three pylons are provided under each wing (four for some variants), which totaled up is six for the aircraft (or 8, in some cases). Several Soviet aircraft could carry a single nuclear bomb on the port inboard side. Original MiG-29Bs can only carry unguided rocket pods, and general-purpose bombs, but upgraded models of the MiG-29 can carry laser-guided, electro-optical bombs, and air-to-surface bombs.

Specifications. Wikipedia.

General Characteristics...
Crew: One.
Length: 17.37 m (57 ft).
Wingspan: 11.4 m (37 ft 3 in).
Height: 4.73 m (15 ft 6 in).
Wing area: 38 m² (409 ft²).
Empty weight: 11,000 kg (24,250 lb).
Loaded weight: 16,800 kg (37,000 lb).
Max takeoff weight: 21,000 kg (46,300 lb).
Powerplant: 2× Klimov RD-33 afterburning turbofans, 8300 kgf (approximate 81.4 kN) each.

Performance...
Maximum speed: Mach 2.4 - 2,445 km/h (1,518 mph).
Range: 700 km combat, 2,900 km ferry (430 mi / 1,800 mi).
Service ceiling: 18,013 m / 59 060 ft (59,100 ft).
Rate of climb: 330 m/s (65,000 ft/min).
Wing loading: 442 kg/m² (90.5 lb/ft²).
Thrust/weight: 1.13.

Armament...
1x 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds.
Up to 3,500 kg (7,720 lb) of weapons including 6 air-to-air missiles — a mix of semi-active radar homing (SARH) and AA-8 'Aphid', AA-10 'Alamo', AA-11 'Archer', AA-12 'Adder', FAB 500-M62, FAB-1000, TN-100, ECM Pods, S-24, AS-12, AS-14.

Avionics...

Phazotron N-019, N-109 radars.

Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier Photo Gallery.

USS George H W Bush (CVN 77) underway from Norfolk Naval Station to undergo tests (April 7, 2009)
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) travelling through the Straits of Magellan to San Diego in a transfer move on June 21, 2004
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) alongside Military Sealift Command Oiler USNS John Lenthall in the Mediterranean Sea on May 19, 2003
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) (left), steams alongside the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R 06) in the Persian Gulf on April 9, 1998. The two ships are operating in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, which is the U.S. and coalition enforcement of the no-fly-zone over Southern Iraq
U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships steam in formation while participating in a photo exercise with the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) at the culmination of ANNUALEX 2008. ANNUALEX is a bilateral exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (November 19, 2008)
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 2 perform an aerial demonstration in the South China Sea May 8, 2006. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and CVW 2 are under way in the Western Pacific for a scheduled six-month deployment
(March 27, 2008) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) steams in the Atlantic Ocean. Roosevelt and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 are conducting a tailored ship's training availability and final evaluation problem

(Jan. 21, 2012) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is underway in the Arabian Sea. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), in the Indian Ocean, with U.S.S. George Washington steaming along. U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower is conducting turnover operations, while U.S.S. George Washington is heading North to the Arabian Gulf to support Operation 'Southern Watch' (July 22nd, 2000)

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 transits into San Diego prior to mooring at Naval Air Station North Island. Nimitz is preparing for a 2009 regularly scheduled Western Pacific Deployment (June 29, 2009)

Nimitz-class Aircraft Carriers

U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN-68) near the Persian Gulf. (Photographed by P.H.2 Matthew J. Magee. October 12th, 1997.)

The Nimitz-class supercarriers, a line of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy, are currently the world's most powerful ships. With their nuclear engines, they could almost sail forever, and the aircraft below their decks outnumbers some air forces in the world, very impressive. They are preceded by the Kitty Hawk-class of carriers, and are succeeded by the Gerald R. Fold-class.

U.S.S. Nimitz, being the lead ship in the class, was commisioned on May 3rd, 1975, followed by 9 more carriers of her class. U.S.S. George H. W. Bush is the last ship of the class (She was built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, or just N.G.S.). Nimitz-class Carriers are numbered with consecutive hull numbers starting with CVN-68. The three letters "CVN", denotes the type of ship: CV is the hull classification, while N indicates nuclear-powered propulsion. The "68" in CVN-68 means that it is the 68th "CV", or in English, instead of Navy jargon, Aircraft Carrier.

As there are several construction differences from the first three ships of the class, and the rest seven, starting from U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, the latter ships are sometimes refered to as the Theodore Roosevelt-class aircraft carriers, but the U.S. Navy prefers to consider all of them as part of one class.

Nimitz-class Carriers are currently the heaviest ships U.S. fleet, although they are not the longest, as this title is still held by U.S.S. Enterprise.

Ships in this Class are...

  • U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN-68) Commissioned: May 3rd, 1975.
  • U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Commissioned: October 18th, 1977.
  • U.S.S. Carl Vinson (CVN-70) Commissioned: March 13th, 1982.
  • U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Commissioned: October 25th, 1986.
  • U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Commissioned: November 11th, 1989.
  • U.S.S. George Washington (CVN-73) Commissioned: July 4th, 1992.
  • U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Commissioned: December 9th, 1995.
  • U.S.S. Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Commissioned: July 25th, 1998.
  • U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Commissioned: July 12th, 2003.
  • U.S.S. George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) Not commissioned. Expected to be in Mid 2009.

Specifications Wikipedia.

General Characteristics...
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company, Newport News, Virginia.
Power Plant: Two A4W reactors, four shafts.
Length: 333 m (1092 ft) overall.
Flight Deck Width: 76.8 - 78.4 m (252 - 257 ft 5 in).
Beam: 41 m (134 ft).
Displacement: 98,235 - 104,112 tons full load.
Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h).
Aircraft: 85 (current wings are closer to 64, including 48 tactical and 16 support aircraft).
Intended to operate aircraft currently including the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, E-2 Hawkeye, C-2 Greyhound, SH/HH-60 Seahawk, and S-3 Viking for many missions including self defense, land attack and maritime strike.
Cost: about US$4.5 billion each.
Average Annual Operating Cost: US$160 million.
Service Life: 50+ years.
Crew: Ship's Company: 3,200 — Air Wing: 2,480.
Armament:
NATO Sea Sparrow launchers: three or four (depending on modification).
20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts: Three on Nimitz and Dwight D. Eisenhower and four on Carl Vinson and later ships of the class, except Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington which have three. (USS Ronald Reagan has none, initially outfitted with Rolling Airframe Missile system during construction).
RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile: Two on Nimitz, George Washington and Ronald Reagan, will be retrofitted to other ships as they return for RCOH.
Date Deployed: May 3, 1975 (Nimitz).

Dassault Mirage 2000

Introduced in June, 1984, the Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French-built multirole fighter air craft. Capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the Mirage is in service in 9 countries, and over 600 aircraft has been built. One aircraft costs US$23 million.

Design...

This French fighter uses the delta wing concept of its predecessor, the Mirage III. The advantages for this wing design is that the plane performs better in high-speed flight, is simple in construction, with a low radar signature, and more internal volume. However, there are also numerous set-backs in regards to maneuverability, low-altitude flight, and distance for take-off, and landing. The Mirage is the first fighter jet with negative static stability.

Structure...

The wings of the Dassault Mirage is made of multi-spar metal wing, while the elevons have carbon-fiber skins with AG5 light alloy honeycomb cores. Its avionics bay is covered with honeycomb panels made up of carbon-fiber, and light alloy. The most of the tailfin, and all of the rudder of this aircraft are skinned with boron, epoxy, and carbon. The rudder also has a light alloy honeycomb core.

A French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000C drops away from a United States Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker after refueling during a Combat Patrol Mission of N.A.T.O. Operation Allied Force. (Photographed by S.R.A. Greg L. Davis. April 15th, 1999.)

The Dassault Mirage 2000 participated in...

  • the Gulf War.
  • U.N., and N.A.T.O. air operations over former Yugoslavia. One aircraft was shot down over Bosnia with a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile in 1995.
  • the intervention in Afghanistan in 2001-2002.
  • the Summer of 2007 in Afghanistan in support of N.A.T.O. troops. 3 Mirages participated.
  • the Kargil War of 1999.

Current Operators of the Dassault Mirage 2000...

  • France.
  • India.
  • United Arab Emirates.
  • Greece.
  • Republic of China (Taiwan).
  • Qatar.
  • Peru.
  • Brazil.

Specifications Wikipedia.

General characteristics...

Crew: 1.
Length: 14.36 m (50 ft 3 in). Wingspan: 9.13 m (29 ft).
Height: 5.30 m (17 ft 5 in).
Wing area: 41 m² (441.32 ft²).
Empty weight: 7,600 kg (17,000 lb).
Loaded weight: 13,800 kg (30,420 lb). Max takeoff weight: 17,000 kg (37,500 lb).
Powerplant: 1× SNECMA M53-P2 afterburning turbofan, 95 kN (21,400 lbf).

Performance
Maximum speed: (Mach 2.2) altitude.
Range: 1,450 km (770 NM, 890 mi).
Service Ceiling: 18,000 m (59,000 ft).
Rate of Climb: 285 m/s (56,000 ft/min). Wing Loading: 337 kg/m² (69 lb/ft²).
Thrust/Weight: 0.91.
Max sea level speed: 1,480 km/h.
Climb to 9,700 m: 1,75 min.
Climb to 15,000 m: 4 min.
Turn rate at 5 g: 12°/sec.
Turn rate at 9 g: 24°/sec.
Max g: normal 9 g, overloaded 11 g, break 13,5 g.

Armament
Guns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) DEFA cannons.
Missiles: 4× MBDA MICA air-to-air missiles.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair

An F4U Corsair ready to take-off from the decks of U.S.S. Boxer, near Korea. Note the Sikorski HO3S in the background. (1951. No Photographer, or exact date available. I apologize sorry for any inconvenience.)

An American fighter aircraft that participated in two major wars, World War II, and the Korean War (and some isolated local conflicts.), the Corsair was an amazing plane. Designed by Rex Beisel, and Igor Sikorsky, who worked for Chance Vought at that time, and manufactured by 3 different Aeronautical companies. Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG, and Brewster-built ones F3A.

Introduction, and Retirement...

The F4U's introduction was on 28th December, 1942, and retired in 1953, right after the Korean War, as a wonderful fighter-bomber aircraft. It continued to serve in some air forces till the 1960s. It was the longest production run of any piston-engined fighter in history.

The Early Days...

The Corsair did not show much success as a Navy plane, as its carrier qualifications aboard USS Sangamon Bay was not as good as expected, and so it was passed to the Marine Corps.. The first Fighter Squadron of Marine Air to be ever equipped with the F4U was VMF-124, and they flew their first combat mission using the Corsair on February 11th, 1943, from Guadalcanal. By August, all Marine Fighter Squadrons had converted from the F4F to the F4U. Despite that, the Corsair had troubling problems with its large, and powerful engine, the 2000 hp (1,490 kW) 18 cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial. However, they were corrected with modifications to this montrous powerhouse. On April, 1944, the U.S. Navy finally accepted the Corsair for carrier service, prior to some modifications.

The Design...

The main designers of the F4U, Rex Beisel, and Igor Sikorsky incorporated the Corsair with the largest engine available at that time, the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial. This led to the two men deciding to give the bird, a relatively large, 13 ft, 4 inch (4.06) Hamilton Standard Hydromatic three-blade propeller, which extracted as much power as possible from the engine. Then, to accomodate a folding wing, the designers considered a landing gear that retracted rearwards, but that resulted to a problem. It was difficult to fit gear struts long enough to meet the U.S. Navy requirement that demanded sufficient ground clearance, as the propeller was quite big. The answer was simple, just by converting the Corsair's originally planned straight wings, they changed it to an inverted gull wing. This reduced the length of the main gear legs considerably. Another problem occured with the F4Uafter it became operational with the Marine Corps., the forward view for pilots was largely disrupted by the large engine, which led some to dub it a "bird cage". This was quickly fixed in later variants.

"Corsair fighter looses its load of rocket projectiles on a run against a Japanese stronghold on Okinawa. In the lower background is the smoke of battle as Marine units move in to follow up with a Sunday punch." Lt. David D. Duncan, ca. June 1945. Wikipedia..

Korean War...

The F4U Corsair had proved itself as a worthy fighter in the air superiority role in World War II, but when conflict in Korea erupted, it was swiftly converted to the close-support role, attacking ground targets. The F4U version produced during the Korean War was designated AU-1 as a ground-attack variant, and produced impressive results. The gull wing became a very useful feature for the AU-1, as a straight, and low-wing design would have blocked most of the visibility of the ground target, but the pilot of a Corsair could just look though a "notch", and thus have a better view of the target without banking left, or right to get the wings out of his view. Dogfights between Soviet-built Yakovlev Yak-9 fighters occured early in the conflict, but when the enemy introduced the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, the Corsair was greatly outclassed. The Corsair was also used as a night fighter to hunt down the Polikarpov Po-2 night intruders.

Final Combat missions...

The F4U Corsair flew its final combat mission during the 1969 "Football War" between Honduras, and El Salvador. It was famously triggered by a disagreement over the result of a football (soccer) match. Both sides claimed kills, though each side disputed the kills of the other.

Other Information...
  • The Corsair was flown by the famous Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-214, and its famous Squadron Commander, Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, who earned a Medal of Honour. He was famous for not only his flying skills, but his dishonesty.
  • F2G "Super" Corsair, built by Goodyear, was a specialized Japanese suicide Kamikaze attacks. It was a significantly different aircraft, from engine to airframe, but still incorporates the gull wings. Furthur work was abandoned on th F2G series as development problems emerged during the near conclusion of World War II. Several F2Gs went on to racing after World War II, and had considerable success, winning the Thompson Trophy races in 1947, and 1949.
  • An interesting kill by a Marine Lieutanent R.R. Klingman of VMF-312 Checkerboards, over Okinawa., was done in a Corsair. According to him, he was in pursuit of a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu ("Nick"), a twin engined fighter, when his guns jammed due to the gun lubrication thickening from the extreme cold at the high altitude he was in. So, he simply flew up, and chopped the tail off the Toryu with his big propeller. The Kawasaki fell out of the sky, but Klingman, even though missing 5 inches (127 mm) off the end of the Corsair's propeller, managed to land safely. He earned himself a Navy Cross with heroic, and quite strange kill.
  • The U.S. Navy counted 11:1 kill ratio for every F4U Corsair shot down, which is a marvelous result.

F4U Corsair loses during World War II...

  • By combat: 189
  • By enemy anti-aircraft artillery: 349.
  • By accidents during combat missions: 230.
  • By accidents during non-combat flights: 692.
  • Destroyed on the ground, or aboard ships: 164.

Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

A United States Air Force Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II during Desert Storm.

The A-10 is an American single-seat, twin engine jet aircraft. Developed by Fairchild-Republic, and used primarily by the United States Air Force (U.S.A.F.). It is currently used to provide Close Air Support (C.A.S.) for friendly ground forces, destroying enemy tanks, any sort of armoured vehicles, and other ground targets, while also providing limited air interdiction. The Thunderbolt's secondary mission is to provide airborne forward air control, which guides other aircraft to the ground targets. In the Air Force inventory, the A-10's airframe is designated OA-10, when used primarily in forward air control. It is the first aircraft of the U.S.A.F. designed only for C.A.S..

The Name...

The Thunderbolt II's name comes from the World War II P-47 Thunderbolt that was also developed by Republic, and which was very effective in the ground attack role. However, the A-10 is more commonly referred to by its unofficial name, "Warthog", or just plainly "Hog".

Structural Durability...

As mentioned before, the A-10 is assigned to the C.A.S. role, which means that it needs superior maneuverability at low speeds, and altitude. Which it does. This is thanks to straight, wide wings, with downturned "droop" wing tips. The A-10 is also a sort of V/STOL aircraft, due its unique wings, it allows short takeoffs, and landings, permitting operations from rugged, forward airfields, that does not have to be long. This will raise the limit to where the A-10 can fly to, and also brings it closer to the frontlines, saving both fuel, and time. It also has a very strong airframe, able to survive direct hits from armour-piercing, and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. This toughness led to some calling it the "airborne tank". And not just the hardy air frame, the A-10 also has triple redundancy in its flight systems, which includes mechanical systems to back-up double-redundant hydraulic systems. Besides that, the A-10 can fly with only one engine operating, one tail, one elevator, and half a wing torn off.

A Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, fully loaded, banks right.

Weapons Systems...

The Thunderbolt II's primary weapon is a built-in 30 mm General Electrics GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type rotary cannon that is the largest, heaviest, and one of the most powerful guns ever mounted on an aircraft. The Avenger produced very little sound, and fires at a high rate, using depleted uranium armour-piercing shells. As few as 6 direct hits are needed to reduce a heavily armoured main battle tank to a burning pile of rubble. Originally, the rate of fire could be set depending on what the situation is at hand, 2,100 rounds per minute in the low setting, and 4,200 rounds per minute in the high setting. Later, it was changed to a fixed 3,900 rounds per minute. Another thing is that the Avenger takes about half a second to come up to speed, so only 50 rounds would be fired in the first second, and 65-70 rounds every second thereafter. Besides all this firepower, and speed, it is also extremely accurate, capable of getting 80% of its shots within a 20-foot in diameter circle from a distance of 1 mile, while in flight. The A-10 can also carry a variety of missiles, and bombs from pods under its wings. These range from AIM-9 Sidewinders for self defence, to AGM-65 Mavericks for ground-attack.

Specifications...

Data from The Great Book of Modern Warplanes, Fairchild-Republic A/OA-10

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)
  • Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in (17.53 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
  • Wing area: 506 ft² (47.0 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 6716 root, NACA 6713 tip
  • Empty weight: 24,959 lb (11,321 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 30,384 lb (13,782 kg)) On CAS mission: 47,094 lb (21,361 kg)
  • On anti-armor mission: 42,071 lb (19,083 kg
  • Max takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (23,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans, 9,065 lbf (40.32 kN) each

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 450 knots (518 mph,[88] 833 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) with 18 Mk 82 bombs
  • Maximum speed: 381 knots (439 mph, 706 km/h) at sea level, clean
  • Cruise speed: 300 knots (340 mph, 560 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 120 knots (138 mph, 220 km/h)
  • Combat radius:

On CAS mission: 250 nmi (288 mi, 460 km) at 1.88 hour single-engine loiter at 5,000 ft (1,500 m), 10 min combat

On anti-armor mission: 252 nmi (290 mi, 467 km), 40 nm (45 mi, 75 km) sea-level penetration and exit, 30 min combat

  • Ferry range: 2,240 nmi (2,580 mi, 4,150 km) with 50 knot (55 mph, 90 km/h) headwinds, 20 minutes reserve
  • Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,000 ft/min (30 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 99 lb/ft² (482 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.36

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GAU-8/A Avenger gatling cannon with 1,174 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 11 (8× under-wing and 3× under-fuselage pylon stations) with a capacity of 16,000 lb (7,260 kg) and provisions to carry combinations of:
  • Rockets:

4× LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19× / 7× Hydra 70 mm rockets, respectively)

4× LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19× CRV7 70 mm rockets)

6× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× 127 mm (5.0 in) Zuni rockets)

  • Missiles:

AIM-9 Sidewinders air-to-air missiles for self-defense

AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles

  • Bombs:

Mark 80 series of unguided iron bombs or

Mk 77 incendiary bombs or

BLU-1, BLU-27/B Rockeye II, Mk20, BL-755 and CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 cluster bombs or

Paveway series of Laser-guided bombs or

Joint Direct Attack Munition (A-10C) or

Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (A-10C)

  • Other:

SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys and chaff dispenser pod or

AN/ALQ-131 & AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods or

Lockheed Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pods (A-10C) or

2× 600 US gallon Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for extended range/loitering time.

Avionics

  • AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker pod (mounted beneath right side of cockpit) for use with Paveway LGBs
  • Head-up display (HUD) for improved technical flying and air-to-ground support.

MiG Alley

Mig Alley, a name given by U.S. Air Force pilots to the Northwestern portion of North Korea, where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea. As it was the site of the first few large-scale jet-vs-jet air battles, the alley is considered the birthplace of jet combat. It is quite easy to tell that that area of the sky is where the most dogfights occured between MiG-15s, and F-86 Sabres, during the Korean War.

A map showing the approximate location of MiG Alley. Wikipedia

During that time period, in which the war between the two Koreas falls in, MiG-15 were the most commonly used jet fighters by the North Koreans, and their Soviet supporters, and the F-86 Sabre for the South, with their U.S. supporters. However, the first contact in the air between the South, and the North did not involve Sabres, but P-80 Shooting Stars. It occured on November 8th, 1950, when inexperienced Soviet pilots in MiG-15s attacked a flight of equally inexperienced U.S.A.F. pilots. At that time, not a single U.S. squadron based at South Korea had the, at that time, new, and sophisticated, swept-wing F-86 Sabre. As a result, the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, which was equipped with Sabres, was rushed to Korea, and Fighter Command had them based at Kimpo Airfield.

Secrecy of their Participation...

The Soviets have long denied the participation of their fighter pilots in the Korean War, but truth is, they were there. Only after the Cold War, when the Soviet party fell, did the pilots start to reveal their role in the fight. It was not a great shock, almost everyone had already made that conclusion themselves, with the proof of the pilots or not.

Large-Scale Daylight Bombing, and the MiG interceptors...

The U.S. was constantly sending large-scale daylight bombing raids on North Korea, and the Soviet forces' primary mission was to intercept, and shoot down the lumbering B-29s. They were very effective. B-29 loses mounted, with the daylight raids becoming a rarity, and night raids had also started to posed risk. Not long after, the MiG-15s also began systematic attacks on U.S. jet fighter-bombers, which were the backbone of the U.S. effort to interdict railway operations in the North. The reason for the Soviets' effectiveness was probably because their decision to withdraw their inexperienced student pilots, and plac combat veterans from World War II, most of them flight instructors, to the fight. The young, and fresh U.S.A.F. pilots, were in-turn at a huge disadvantage, outnumbered, and outskilled. However, this was not the case throughout the whole war. Inexperienced they might have been, they still learned fast.

The standard U.S. fighter formation during the Korean War was the "finger-four", named after its resemblance of the fingers of the right hand, seen from above. It was led by a flight leader, often the most experienced of the four, in the "middle finger", or number one position. He was covered by his wingman, commonly a less experienced pilot that flew on his left, in the "index-finger", or number two position. In the "ring-finger" position, was the element leader, generally the second-most experienced pilot. He was covered, in-turn, on the right, by his wingman, flying in the "pinkie-finger", or number four position. That wingman was normally the least experienced of the four, and would usually be chosen as the target of stalking MiGs due to the lack of cover from behind. More than not, the rest of the pilots would not notice him being shot down, and would only find out that he was missing minutes later, or upon landing. The "finger-four" formation was perfected by the Luftwaffe in World War II. It gave good mutual support, and by flying in a more spread-out manner, it also enhanced maneuverability, and wider visual coverage. The flight leader, and element leader were the primary "shooters", while the wingmen assigned to them were to watch out for threats.

Even though they were badly outnumbered, Sabre pilots still enjoyed some advantages. Among them was a radar ranging gunsight on their six 0.50 calibur machine guns, which made sure that almost every burst of fire hit their target. Another, is that the F-86 pilots were given G-suits, which lowered the effects of G-forces on the pilots in a dogfight, for example, the prevention of blacking out. Also, later variants of the Sabre, particularly the "F" model, came very close to duplicating the speed, and performance of the MiG-15. Employing the advantages, and understanding the MiG's weaknesses, F-86 pilots were enabled to have more success over the enemy, according to U.S. sources.

After Joseph Stalin's death in March 5th, 1953...

The new Soviet leadership, after Stalin's death, was much less aggressive, wanting to seek an armistice to this seemingly endless war. They eventually succeeded. The dogfighting continued until July 27th, 1953, although it was much less in MiG Alley starting from Spring, particularly after May.

Additional Information

MiG pilots were nicknamed "honchos", (Japanese for "big shot".) by U.S. pilots, who had the most respect for their enemy.

Don't go to that bomber, it's cursed.

Old 666, a World War II B-17E Flying Fortress bomber that was the aircraft piloted by Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer Jr. on a special mapping mission in 1943 that would earn him, and his bombardier a Medal of Honor, and the rest of his entire crew a Distinguished Service Cross.

Why the B-17 was called Old 666 was due to the aircraft's serial numbers, 12666. It had gained a bad reputation as a cursed bomber, because it would often suffer heavy battle damage during missions. Aircrews of other bombers would often cannibalize the poor aircraft for spare parts, and it was always parked at the end of the runway.

The then Captain, Jay Zeamer Jr., who had been unable to find an aircraft, or aircrew, had the bomber towed out of the 'bone yard', and remarkably, with tremendous effort, restored the badly battered aircraft to flight status. In doing so, he made some significant changes. They included a major upgrade in armament. The original number of machine guns for a B-17E was 13, Zeamer added 6, changing the waist gunner's standard single gun to double, replacing all 0.30 cal. machine guns with the larger, and more powerful 0.50 cal., and adding a fixed-position gun that could be fired from the pilot's station. His crew even placed guns where they were not needed, leaving spare machine guns on the plane's catwalk, so that if a gun jams at a critical moment, crew members could just dump it, and get a another one.

On June 16th, 1943, a request from headquarters asked for an air crew to go on a special mission, a single ship unescorted mapping mission over hostile territory (Bougainville). Old 666's crew eagerly volunteered. Taking off from Port Moresby at 4 a.m. sharp, and on schedule, they wanted to use the darkness as cover for at least part of the mission. For 3 hours, Old 666's engines churned the air as Jay Zeamer flew the aircraft Northwest to the enemy, the rising Sun visible to the East. Shortly before 0700, the faint light of dawn revealed the distant outline of Bougainville Island, where awaiting Zeros were ready to pounce at a moments notice. The peacefulness of the morning was broken by the high tension.

For the first few minutes, the Old 666 did not meet trouble, and the cameras within her clicked away steadily, her crewmen standing readily behind their machine guns, scanning the sky for any signs of enemy aircraft.

At 0740, Zeamer had only 22 minutes of flight time left. However, it was going to be a long morning, and the action has not started, yet. In the distance, Old 666's crew could make out at least fifteen Zeros, and 2 Dinahs. Still, they persisted that their mission was of high priority. The battle between a lone American bomber and maybe 20 Japanese aircraft was about to unfold, and the result would be an American victory.

Zeamer returned to friendly territory safely, but with the cost of his bombardier, Joe Sarnoski, who remained at his guns in the most critical moments of the flight to shoot down the Japanese planes that were going to harm his friends. He was buried on a knoll near the New Guinea airstrip, and scores of airmen attended his funeral. Sarnoski was a brave, and heroic man, just like all the other people that was in Old 666 during that mission.

Upon landing, the semi-conscious Zeamer overheard his co-pilot remark, "Get the pilot last. He's dead!" However, Zeamer was not. Fortunately. A premature death notification was even sent to his parents back in the United States, but Zeamer, against all odds, survived the long ordeal in the hospital at New Guinea. He, and Lieutenant Johnson, who was also severely wounded, was not immediately informed of Sarnoski's death, only to find out about it several days later. Most of Old 666's crew were wounded in that mission.

The Eager Beavers, crew of Old 666 during the special mapping mission of Bougainville Island. (Back Row.) Bud Thues, Jay Zeamer Jr., Hank Dominski, Joseph R. Sarnoski (Front Row.) Vaughn, Kendrick, Able, Pugh. http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/part2/07_zeamer_sarnoski.html

Zeamer was awarded the Medal of Honor, and Sarnoski too, but he was not there to recieve it. The rest of the entire crew recieved the Distinguished Service Cross, and they more than deserved it. This was one of the most decorated flights in history.

This mission was featured on the episode "Long Odds", of the History Channel show, Dogfights.

Grumman F6F Hellcat

This piston-engined, carrier capable, fighter was the most successfull aircraft in Naval history, destroying 5,171 aircraft in service with the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps., and 52 more with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during World War II. Unfortunately, it's glory days ended after the long 6-year war. The Grumman F6F Hellcat retired in 1954 as a night-fighter in composite squadrons.

The Hellcat was built as the successor of the F4F Wildcat. Although both aircraft had a familiar resemblance, the F6F was a completely new design. Some even called it the "Wildcat's big brother". The Grumman F6F Hellcat, and Vought F4U Corsair were the main U.S. Navy fighters during the second half of World War II.

The Wildcat was a great fighter, but past air battles showed that the Japanese A6M Zero was a much better plane. However, it still had a few advantages. The Wildcat could take a lot of punishment, while the A6M flamed almost literary on the slightest damage, and the Wildcat was much faster in a dive. These advantages were "inherited" to the Hellcat, along with a lot other enhancements, combined, Grumman made an aircraft far superior to the Zero. In almost all aspects, the F6F outclassed the unarmoured Japanese fighter.

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats on 1th January, 1943. (Photographer not available. I apologize for any inconvenience.)

The F6F Hellcat first saw action on 1th September, 1943, and it's first real engagement was on November 23rd in the same year, when Hellcats met Japanese aircraft over Tarawa. The result was somewhat miraculous. In total, F6F pilots claimed 30 Zeros shot down with only one lost. This was just the beginning.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was very versatile, being able to carry rockets, bombs, and torpedoes.

Guns
  • 6x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, 400 rounds/gun, or

  • 2x 20mm cannon, 225 rounds/gun, or

  • 4x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, 400 rounds/gun.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet

United States Marine Corps. Captain Kevin Reece of the Vertical Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (V.M.F.A.) piloting his F/A-18 Hornet over the South China Sea on the return trip from Paya Lebar. Singapore, to Marine Corps. Air Station (M.C.A.S.) Iwakuni, Japan, supporting Commando Sling.

The F/A-18 Hornet
is an all-weather, carrier capable, fighter/attack aircraft, that was designed in the 1970's for service with the United States Navy, and Marine Corps., air forces from other nations use it too.

Introduced on 7th January, 1983, the Hornet was built to replace the F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair, and to complement the F-14 Tomcat. It was very versatile, and reliable, and its main roles are fighter escort, fleet air defence, suppression of enemy air defences (S.E.A.D.), interdiction, close air support, and reconnaissance. It first saw action during Operations Prairie Fire, and El Dorado Canyon. VFA-131 Hornets from U.S.S. Coral Sea were involved.

The origins of the F/A-18 Hornet lies in the experimental aircraft YF-17 Cobra. The Cobra was designed as many from the fighter community believed the F-15 Eagle's price, and size was too large for many combat roles. Originally designed to be a lightweight day fighter, the YF-17 was navalized, scaled-up, and in-turn, became the F/A-18 Hornet. The Cobra shared no essential dimension, or primary structure with the Hornet.

An F/A-18 Hornet of VFA-146 "Blue Diamonds" in flight on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photographed by Lt. Kyle "Chet" Turco, United States Navy. Date is unknown. I apologize for any inconvenience.)

Variants of the F/A-18 Hornet are the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is a distinct, and evolutionary upgrade of the Hornet, and the EA-18G Growler, an electronic warfare version of the F/A-18.

The following is a list of countries that currently operates the F/A-18 Hornet.
-U.S.A.
-Australia
-Canada
-Finland
-Spain
-Kuwait
-Switzerland
-Malaysia

The F/A-18 has been criticized for its low range, and payload compared to its comtemporaries.

Specifications...

General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18C: 1, F/A-18D: 2 (pilot and weapons system officer)
  • Length: 56 ft (17.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft (12.3 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.7 m)
  • Wing area: 400 ft² (38 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 65A005 mod root, 65A003.5 mod tip
  • Empty weight: 23,000 lb (10,400 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 36,970 lb (16,770 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 51,900 lb (23,500 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofans
  • Dry thrust: 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: 17,750 lbf (79.2 kN) each
  • Performance
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,089 nmi (1,250 miles, 2,000 km) with only two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 400 nmi (460 mi, 740 km) on air-air mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
  • Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 93 lb/ft² (454 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.96

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan nose mounted 6-barreled gatling cannon, 578 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 9 total: 2× wingtips missile launch rail, 4× under-wing, and 3× under-fuselage with a capacity of 13,700 lb (6,215 kg) external fuel and ordnance

Rockets:

  • 2.75 inches (70 mm) Hydra 70 rockets
  • 5 in (127.0 mm) Zuni rockets
  • Missiles:
  • Air-to-air missiles:
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder or 4× AIM-132 ASRAAM or 4× IRIS-T or 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
  • AIM-7 Sparrow or additional 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM

Air-to-surface missiles:

  • AGM-65 Maverick
  • Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM-ER)
  • AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
  • AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
  • Taurus missile (Cruise missile)

Anti-ship missile:

  • AGM-84 Harpoon
Bombs:
  • JDAM Precision-guided munition (PGMs)
  • Paveway series of Laser guided bombs
  • Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
  • CBU-87 cluster
  • CBU-89 gator mine
  • CBU-97
  • Mk 20 Rockeye II
  • B61/Mk57 nuclear bombs

Others:

  • SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or
  • Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod or
  • AN/AAS-38 Nite Hawk Targeting pods (US Navy only), to be replaced byAN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR or
  • LITENING targeting pod (USMC, Royal Australian Air Force, Spanish Air Force, and Finnish Air Force only) or
  • up to 3× 330 US gallons (1,200 l; 270 imp gal) Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time.

Avionics

  • Hughes APG-73 radar
  • ROVER (Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver) antenna for use by US Navy's F/A-18C strike fighter squadrons

...

Contact

mailwebaviation@gmail.com