Nice concept, as far as it goes. It's clearly a combination of the AFTI sensor fit and some of the F-35 sensors with the most advanced of the F-16 proposals for the UAE. One definite correction is that the wing planform is that of the YF/F-22, not the airfoil. It clearly, though, still has the standard inlet and a nozzle that doesn't incorporate LOAN technology. With the other sensors fitted, I really don't think you need the sensors in the LERX leading edges, but that's just this engineer's opinion.
Yeah, but you don't need an entirely new fuselage for it, I believe the F-2 fuselage is pretty close and could be adapted. Granted, they'd have to be new built aircraft and not major rebuilds, but still likely less expensive than a lot of aircraft with comparable performance (and I know some of the folk who worked on it, 'tis quite the performer).
It would have been a great aircraft - the body stretch was not that big of a deal, involving a straight plug (or possibly two) and not affecting the front and back ends that much.
The really sexy configurations had the LOAN nozzle and the diverterless inlet.
By the way, the pic credits are all wrong. Allegedly.
Better, this one has a more potent engine and the different planform makes for a better weight distribution (from what I've heard from folks who were here in Ft. Worth at the time, the weight and balance on the F-16XL made for some "sporting" ground handling experiences).
Lockheed Martin is proposing India a Supercruise capable F-16, designated F-16IN.
While there are several systems being mentioned like advanced radar, IRST system, Advanced ECM pod, none are new to the F-16E/F.
What really got me into thinking is how will the supercruise will be achieved. Looking at the F-16XL, the answer is obvious: bigger wing, more fuel, less draggy stores carriage.
While the stretched fuselage and the huge XL type of wing are out of the question (too much development and cost) there are other interesting developments.
Looking at the F-16E/F we a very powerful engine, and CFT but the fighter is not considered to be capable of supercruise. That's mostly because the fuel tanks part of the strike package. So how do we get rid of the drag without getting rid of the fuel?
Then I thought of the earliest F-16E/F concept that has a wing planform like the F-22 (pictured above). What if LM has decided that it can afford to develop that concept further? The IAF has a requirement for 126 fighters vs the 80 by the UAE and the Indians are willing to pay up to $100 milion per piece.
I am not sure if an F135 engine can be put into the place of an F110 but one thing its certain. F-16IN will need an even more powerful engine than F110-GE-132 to supercruise.
I wonder how much effort will LM put into reducing the RCS of the quote "completely new design". Will they make use of the low observable weapons pods being developed for the F-22? Will they decide to actually integrate the divertless inlet into F-16 (once only a testbed for it)? Will Prat decide to integrate the LOAN nozzle into their new engine.
If LM decides to pull out an F-16 with all those features:
- delta wing + CFT
- improved engine + LOAN
- divertless inlet
- XL type of weapons racks or stealthy weapons pods
I think they will have a fighter in the class of Rafale or maybe Typhoon in terms of RCS and supercruise.
So Matej, can you update your concept accordingly? :
F-16IN – The fighter with the biggest bang for buck ratio.
F-16 is a fighter that is far from being either the most capable nor the least expensive aircraft. The Indian Air force, having recently acquired one of the most capable aircrafts in the world (SU-30MKI), is hardly going to settle on anything inferior when it comes to fulfilling its 126 attack aircraft requirement.
Perhaps, having recognized that, LM has proposed a new and unknown configuration of the F-16, dubbed to have super cruise capability. Even more, the aircraft is said to feature AESA radar and other advanced features. The last major upgrade, the Block 60 airframe was unveiled almost a decade ago and may not be “curry” enough for the Indians taste.
An advanced F-16 model from 1997 featured a delta wing not unlike the one on the F-22. However, an advanced F-16 at the time was always considered a treat to the F-22 development. General Dynamics own ATF proposal was much like a two engine delta winged F-16. Even earlier in the 80’s the USAF has recognized that the possible procurement of the F-16XL could threaten its ATF program as a low cost alternative. With the F-22 program over half finished and a treat on the horizon to secure a F-35 buy, LM has only have to worry about its Forth Worth plant staying in business till F-35 production begins. That date continues to slip in time and with each year the F-16s sold today continue to lose their appeal to high profile buyers. Perhaps it’s time for the next F-16 block 70 featuring some major but low cost improvement designed to bridge that widening gap.
1. Every F-16 since Block 60 will features the CFT packs. They have even be integrated with earlier blocks (Block 52+ for Greece). The CFTs, giving a lot of range for little drag are symbolic of the F-16 upgrade approach.
2. Advanced weapons. A decade ago, the USAF offered the latest in Laser bombs with block 60. It is very possible that block 70 could be sold along with GPS guided munitions like the JDAMs. If the laser targeting pods are no longer needed, so is the second crew man that operates them.
3. Boing has recently announced it will unveil a stealthier upgrade to its Super Hornets so it can bridge the gap to its 6 gen fighter. The divertless inlet tested on the F-16 as part of the JSF program, could just as well be one of the upgrade options for both F-16 and F-18. This feature will decrease frontal RCS dramatically, while having no negative effect on performance. The divertless inlet may turn out to be even lighter and more efficient.
4. A bigger wing, while a new component, has proven to be the cheapest way to increase the range and payload of a fighter. LM has recently spent a lot of effort researching delta wings as part of the FB-22 proposal. A delta wing like the one on the desktop model above, will eliminate the need for fuel tanks and enable a F-16XL type of AMRAAM carriage. A portion of the AIM-120 is visible in a conformal configuration just under the wing root. Such a change will significantly decrease drag and RCS naturally.
5. LOAN nozzle. Ever since it was unveiled, the special LO nozzle was considered an optional upgrade to any F-16. However, it made little sense for spending money on reducing IR signature if no other efforts in reducing RCS have been made. Further, while the LOAN nozzle increases engine life as a side effect, it may add a few pounds to the weight of the aircraft.
6. It’s been almost a decades as well since the last major upgrade to either the F100 or F110 engines. During that time, more than one engines enhancement program has completed. While supercruise can be achieved by switching to a delta wing alone (F-16XL), overall fighter performance will decrease if an existing engine is used. Therefore, it is almost certain the F-16IN will feature a new engine as well.
7. The spine of the double seat versions of the F-16, is said to include additional electronics. It is also possible that the second seat takes the usual position of some of those. The F-16 AFTI demonstrator is perhaps the only one single seat F-16 fitted with a spine with additional electronics. This feature may also be introduced into future F-16s, as it could free some internal space for fuel.
If LM campaign to win the IAF 126 fighter is as aggressive on the proposal as is on marketing, we may as well have the F-16XL resurrected in a21st century stile with some of the above features described above and pictured below.
Such aircraft will undoubtedly close the capability gap to the Euro canards, while staying low in cost, giving the IAF the most bang for its bucks.
Between the wing and (IIRC) a fuselage stretch, the delta F-16 did not need the spine or conformals. There was lots of fuel in the wing.
From IDR, 1995...
The next step in F-16 evolution, the F-16U, addresses this problem. The F-16U is competing against the F-15E for an 80-aircraft launch order from the United Arab Emirates, and a long-delayed decision is expected before the end of this year.
The F-16U is a return in principle to the F-16XL, which General Dynamics demonstrated in 1983. In both cases, the goal is to increase the F-16's range by adding internal fuel and decreasing the drag of external weapons. The F-16U has a 1.4 m fuselage stretch and a 65 m2 cropped-delta wing. The planform, large-area leading-edge flaps and twist and camber draw on experience with the F-22 and the GD Advanced Tactical Fighter proposal of 1986. The structure (aluminium alloy ribs and spars and composite skins) is different. The wing is bigger in span and area and deeper in section than that of the XL and, together with the fuselage stretch, increases internal fuel capacity to more than 7200 kg - well over twice that of the F-16C. Wing root troughs hold four AIM-120s, and underwing hardpoints can carry four 970kg weapons or eight 450 kg weapons in addition to a pair of AIM-9s.
The F-16U would be powered by an uprated version of today's engine. In August, General Electric plans to run a 155 kN F110 demonstrator with a higher-airflow blisk fan based on F120 technology, matched to the F-16's inlet, and fitted with a scaled-up vesion of the F414's composite-lined augmentor. Pratt & Whitney may offer its F100-PW-229 Plus.
With the uprated engine, the F-16U is expected to accelerate as fast as the lighter F-16C. It will have a better sustained turn performance because of its lower wing loading, and is designed to handle better at high angle of attack.
Other potential improvements to the F-16U include GE's Multi-Axis Thrust Vectoring (MATV) nozzle, tested on an F-16 last year. MATV has been under development since 1987, and is considered ready for transition to production. With MATV, the F-16 demonstrated advanced air-to-air manoeuvres such as a fully controlled Cobra and J-turn. (It would be ironic if the UAE's aircraft were to have the MATV, which was being jointly developed by GE, GD and Israel before releasability concerns forced Israel out of the program.)
Further in the future, GE is looking at a 180 kN F110 with the core of the CFM56-7 (a new version of its best-selling commercial powerplant) and some of the advanced variable-cycle features of the YF120 ATF candidate engine. With this powerplant, the delta F-16 could supercruise with air-to-air weapons.
With a single 180 kN engine, long range, multiple sensors and advanced avionics, the ultimate F-16 starts to look a lot like the Air Force's version of JAST. "You have hit that right on the head," comments one non-Lockheed observer. "Do you want to replace the F-16 with something that goes Mach 2, does air-to-air and air-to-ground [the F-16U] or with something that doesn't have that level of performance and carries a lower payload?"
The only attributes of JAST that the F-16 cannot be modified to emulate are all-aspect VLO and STOVL, only one of which is of interest to the USAF. Unsurprisingly, Lockheed models and impressions depict F-16 growth versions with larger, stealth-contoured inlets and low-observable "chevron" edges to doors and other apertures.
I have tried to envision a block 70 from 2008 perspective, not 1995 one
- Adding a 1.4 m plug in the fuselage while the best way to increase fuel is certainly the most expensive. Reed the comments further above by some people that actually work in Forth Worth. It will certainly not going to happen now that the F-35 development is almost complete. Not like in 1995.
- A spine not only has a cost advantage but it also gives the equipment inside it an excellent field of view to the sides and rear. Thus being an excellent place for defensive avionics. A spine has proven itself a standart feature to all two seaters over the years.
- A choice between and LO nozzle and a 3D vectoring one tough. I personally went for the former since it will not be the best idea to do a cobra maneuver with CFT and Bombs on board. It seams logical to go for the decreased chance of detection rather than increased chance of escape. Besides, vectoring decreases reliability of the engine, while the LOAN nozzle actually increases engine life.
I'm not surprised by the explanation given by Flight International. I've read before that GE-powered F-16's could supercruise, but I assumed it was in a clean config that had little military utility. I'd assume it was an LM marketing ploy before thinking they'd resort to drastic mods of the F-16.
I'd expect the F-16IN to be similar to the F-16E/F, but with further avionics upgrades (particularly in the radar.)
How difficult would it be to fit an F135 in the F-16? I assume that significant structural changes would be required. The diverterless inlet and LOAN nozzle wouldn't be risky upgrades, though.
LM representative in the 'by invitation' section of the FORCE magazine has said that the F-16IN will come with the 32,000 pound rated F110-GE-132A .... so i guess
In any case as far as pure speculation is concerned ... who knows?