Author Topic: F-16 never happens  (Read 6729 times)

Offline taiidantomcat

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F-16 never happens
« on: August 27, 2016, 01:50:34 AM »
F-16 never happens:

Was reading revolt of the majors and at the end the author pointed out that the F-16 was a real winner, but USAF could have made due without it. I thought that was interesting.

So what if the LWF never happened? Would we see more F-15s sold globally? Would Europe go a different way? If so which? Would the F-20 be a runaway hit?

If there was no LWF there would not be a YF-17 either, so what happens on the navy side? Do the Marines stick with the Tomcat?
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Offline Weaver

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2016, 02:07:09 AM »
The immediate question that spings to mind is: in exactly what way does it not happen? Is there simply no 'Fighter Mafia' at all to push for it so the cost/complexity spiral simply goes ever upwards, or does it all happen as per real life up to the point of the YF-16/YF-17 flyoff, but the USAF finds a way through the politics to not buy either of them?

If the prototypes get built but not bought, you could see one or both of them being adopted as an export fighter in the same style as the F-5, in which case the story would be pretty much the same for export customers, just not for the USAF who yes, would end up buying a lot more F-15s. In this scenario, you might even see the USN pick up the YF-17 and develop it into the F-18 in the same way as real life too.

On the other hand, if the Fighter Mafia and the LWF never happened at all, it gets very interesting. Would the Dutch, Danish, Belgian and Norwegian air forces have gone for the Mirage F.1 M53 + Jaguar combo they were offered, or even all-Mirage F.1s? Alternatively, might the Danes and Nowegians have been persuaded by the Viggen?

What would the USN have done to replace the A-7? In the absence of the YF-17, might they have been more interested in the more radical joint US/UK 2nd generation Harrier proposals like the AV-16?

What would all the other F-16/18 export customers have done? Would Canada and Australia have gone for the F-15, or maybe the Tornado ADV and Mirage 2000 respectively? It's a pretty safe bet that there would have been a lot more F-15s, Mirage 2000s, Mirage F.1s and Tornados (of both versions) sold at the top end, and more F-5s and Jaguars at the cheaper end too.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2016, 03:41:10 AM »
Very interesting idea.  As Harold mentioned, the circumstances behind this happening would really determine the outcomes.

If the LWF contest is still run but nothing is purchased I believe you would eventually still see something enter service...just a few years later.  Maybe under the guise of President Reagan with a scheme similar to the 600-Ship Navy strategic plan (5000 aircraft Air Force?) which can only be satisfied by a cheaper platform.  I can also see the mindset of the Fighter Mafia types matching well with President Reagan.  Of course if re-started in the early '80s this allows the likes of Northrop Grumman and others to have refined their offerings more which might even allow the F-20 a better chance.  Maybe one could also see someone like Boeing partner to offer a US version of the Mirage F.1.

If the Fighter Mafia and the LWF never happened at all I still think one would see something eventually introduced.  Maybe Northrop finally gets ahead and convinces the USAF to buy some F-20s (though would there be a F404 engine without the YF-17 or F/A-18?).  Would something maybe grow out of a USN requirement for a A-7 replacement - would the USAF accept yet another Navy jet?  Maybe we would see the original VFAX competitors (see here - especially the last post) turn into something for both USN and USAF?

In all of these cases it really depends upon the role envisaged too - would the requirement be more to the ground attack side or would it be more to the light air-to-air side?  If the former, something along the A-7/Jaguar side gets a look.  If the latter, then something more of the F-20/F.1 side.
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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2016, 03:53:03 AM »
Assuming the YF-17 and YF-16 never got beyond the flyoff...

The F-20 would have most probably covered the market freed up by the absence of the F-16. Denmark, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and Pakistan would have gone with it.

Greece would have ordered only Mirage 2000s. Turkey the F-20, most probably.

Israel would have sped up the development and inducted into service the IAI Lavi instead (:-*)

Japan could have developed an indigenous aircraft, rather than building the F-2.

Oh, the possibilities...

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2016, 04:05:21 AM »
Another option might be to see low cost/reduced capability versions of the F-15 and F-14 developed.  What might these look like?
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Offline Weaver

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2016, 07:16:20 AM »
The problem with proposing the F-20 as a shoe-in alternative to the F-16/18 is that it's development depended on the F-404 engine (as Greg has pointed out) and it's highly unlikely that would have gone ahead without the F-18 program to finance it. I can't see an export-only programe carrying the cost of a new and advanced engine even in the US.

If the Fighter Mafia/LWF process had never happened, the issue of what to export to 'top-tier' allies as a follow-on to the Starfighter would have remained. In real life, the IFA (International Fighter Aircraft) competition of 1970 was intended to find an F-5A Freedom Fighter successor, and was won by the F-5E Tiger II, but this was too small and simple for most Starfighter operators. In an alternative timeline, with no LWF rumblings promising a Starfighter replacement, might the IFA have been expanded into a two-aircraft high/low capability requirement?

The other three IFA contenders were a 'lightweight' Phantom (kinda sorta adopted by Germany), the Lockheed CL-1200 Lancer (a big-wing, low tail Starfighter) and the LTV V-1000 (a J-79-engined Crusader). Any of these could have formed the basis of a higher-spec export fighter that could have taken the place of the F-16/18 in export markets. My personal feeling is that the lightweight Phantom was still too complicated and heavy for this requirement. I've never liked the Starfighter but I have to admit that the Lancer fixed it's biggest problems, and on the flip side, I've always had a liking for the Crusader, but I'd have to admit that rear view and radome size would have remained an issue.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 07:36:37 AM »
Another thought: there was a proposal for a big-wing Jaguar knocking around in the early 1980s, which had more power and much better agility. If the export market had been less dominated by US products like the F-16/18, might BAE have been persuaded to put some serious company money behind it as an export prospect? With it still using most of the standard Jaguar fuselage, it wouldn't have been nearly as expensive to jig up as an all new aircraft, in fact it might even have been possible to insert big-wing Jags into the standard production line.

Oman would have been an obvious customer, but probably couldn't take enough to justify a start-up order on their own. Other existing Jaguar customers might have been interested: Ecuador, Nigeria (although they never paid for the ones they had!) and India.
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 09:42:44 AM »
Delayed F-20 ends up going with PW1120, same as Lavi?  Or Northrop buys into Lavi (that was definitely looked at) either as a co-developer or as the US lincensee?  Several interesting possibilities.

I rather like Greg's idea of a Mirage F1.W built in the US by Boeing (W for Wichita, much as they were looking at building a version, IIIW, of the Mirage III there at an earlier date).  I wonder if we then would have seen a J79 dropped into the Mirage F.1?

Offline ysi_maniac

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2016, 11:14:54 AM »
... a J79 dropped into the Mirage F.1?

Love this idea ;)

Offline elmayerle

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2016, 11:34:23 AM »
... a J79 dropped into the Mirage F.1?

Love this idea ;)
And I just happen to have a pair of Mirage F.1's that donated their ATAR 9K exhausts to a high French content Phantom II which also leaves a pair of J79 nozzles to fit them.  Probably will need a cooling scoop like that on the Kfir since the J79 runs hotter, but doable.

Offline Weaver

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 03:07:13 PM »
... a J79 dropped into the Mirage F.1?

Love this idea ;)
And I just happen to have a pair of Mirage F.1's that donated their ATAR 9K exhausts to a high French content Phantom II which also leaves a pair of J79 nozzles to fit them.  Probably will need a cooling scoop like that on the Kfir since the J79 runs hotter, but doable.

You could probably just graft a Kfir tail fin on from the Italeri or Hasegawa kits. The shape is almost identical apart from the scoop and Kfir kits are dirt cheap 2nd hand (at least here in the UK).

I've always liked the idea of a Mirage F.1 with a Spey. Obviously not a straight-forward mod, but then neither was the F-4K.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2016, 03:06:33 AM »
If going with a Crusader derivative for the "new F-16" why not go with the Vought Super V-1000.  This brings the F100 engine as used on the F-15s and thus the same commonality advantage as the real world F-16 had.



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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2016, 03:16:18 AM »
Re the Boeing Mirage F.1, it seems that in the real world Boeing did indeed breifly team with Dassault to develop a J79 Mirage F1 but had to abandon that idea for a totally new design.  This was for the F-XX program started in 1971 to develop a light, highly maneuverable fighter that could be produced at a cost significantly below that of the F-14 and that could be used in combination with, or as a substitute for, the F-15.

BTW, the Spey engined F.1 was also later an option for the F-1E (for Europe) to rival the F-16 before they settled on the M53 engine.
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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2016, 03:18:24 AM »
BTW, here is where Boeing ended up with the LWF (aka the contest won by the F-16 in the real world):

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Re: F-16 never happens
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2016, 03:22:29 AM »
BTW, here was Vought's eventual contender for the LWF contest - the model V1100:



I suppose it too could have been revamped for later re-use.
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