What if Germany opted to import 4th gen fighters in 1979 or early 80s?

Yankee_Aviator

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The F16 in the 70s was seen as a lightweight fighter with two Sidewinders on the wings.
Not necessarily, the LWF was cemented as a multirole even before the F-16A went into production. In April 1974 James R. Schlesinger, then Secretary of Defense, announced that the LWF program was being redirected into a multirole fighter program and renamed ACF (Air Combat Fighter). So the production model F-16 was to be a light multirole fighter from the beginning. Considering a consortium of former F-104 operators were gearing up to build the F-16 under license in Europe as they had Lockheed's dart, the Viper would have made a good direct replacement for the 104, while the EF possibly could have maintained German support as an eventual Phantom successor in the Air Superiority/Interceptor role, while the Viper inherits both the Phantom and 104's strike mission.
 

helmutkohl

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Have that one too. :) A trip to Waldenbooks, in the mall in the 80s, almost always yielded results. :)

I was fortunate to have been to the US in the 80s and 90s where one could simply chill for hours at Waldenbooks, Borders, and Barnes and nobles. killing time reading all these military books while the others went shopping.
and now they are all gone

here in Japan, fortunately book stores and music stores still survive and I still read military books there.. although I think inevitably, they will also disappear here too.
 

Yankee_Aviator

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Some candidates
I would add to this the possibility of a further upgraded F-4F ICE, possibly incorporating the PW1120 turbofans of the IAI super Phantom along with the APG-65, the ICE upgrade could potentially come earlier if we're assuming Germany's imperative for buying an existing 4th generation fighter is due to rising tensions in the late cold war. Overall though, I think the Tornado ADV would be the most likely candidate to be selected here, even if it's not the most suitable, it's an aircraft that Germany is already invested in and would have commonality with the Tornado IDS fleet. Despite their close relationship with France, the Tornado would probably be favored over the Mirage as it's a plane the Germans are already invested in. Personally I think the best option would have been a split deal with the US and France. Dornier, due to their relationship with Northrop, would build the FA-18 under license, MTU who has a close relationship with General Electric builds the F404 under license (GE and MTU's relationship and the fact that the Hornet was powered by GE engines from the beginning plays into its appeal to Germany). Germany could leverage their close relations with France to ask for the integration of the Exocet on the Hornet, in order to equip the Marineflieger. Whether that would actually work out is hard to say, the French may be spiteful and not agree to sell the missile to Germany, in that case the AGM-84 may be a suitable alternative. But again, realistically, the Tornado would be the most likely to be selected.
 

Yankee_Aviator

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The Luftwaffe really liked its F4s and they were seriously upgraded over the years
This is why I think an F-4F ICE with PW1120s should be considered here, it's possible that the Germans would have elected to give the F-4s a more comprehensive upgrade, incorporating turbofan engines of lower weight and increased thrust in relation to the J79, the APG-65 radar (same radar in the Hornet) along with turbofan engines and access to AMRAAMs would effectively turn the Phantom into a 4th generation fighter. The increased thrust would make it stronger than it already was in the 2-circle fight and the PD radar and AMRAAMs would give it bvr capabilities at least on par with the Hornet. The real question is would the Germans pursue/ the US approve such an upgrade earlier on, the ICE came out in the 90s, however in a scenario assuming increased tensions with the Warsaw pact, it's more likely the US would have approved of West German Super Phantoms, and approved of them earlier on.
 

Lascaris

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The Luftwaffe really liked its F4s and they were seriously upgraded over the years
This is why I think an F-4F ICE with PW1120s should be considered here, it's possible that the Germans would have elected to give the F-4s a more comprehensive upgrade, incorporating turbofan engines of lower weight and increased thrust in relation to the J79, the APG-65 radar (same radar in the Hornet) along with turbofan engines and access to AMRAAMs would effectively turn the Phantom into a 4th generation fighter. The increased thrust would make it stronger than it already was in the 2-circle fight and the PD radar and AMRAAMs would give it bvr capabilities at least on par with the Hornet. The real question is would the Germans pursue/ the US approve such an upgrade earlier on, the ICE came out in the 90s, however in a scenario assuming increased tensions with the Warsaw pact, it's more likely the US would have approved of West German Super Phantoms, and approved of them earlier on.
And how much was the P1120 unit cost? At which point upgrading the Phantom starts costing as much as newly built aircraft?
 

CV12Hornet

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And how much was the P1120 unit cost? At which point upgrading the Phantom starts costing as much as newly built aircraft?
The only reference I've seen to the cost of the re-engined Super Phantom is a mention on AirVectors of the upgrade being a "significant fraction" the cost of a new aircraft. Which new aircraft and what significant fraction is not stated.
 

Yankee_Aviator

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Assuming that in this timeline Germany (either hte Luftwaffe and/or Marineflieger) went ahead with a 4th gen aircraft how would this affect
- The Typhoon project?
The most likely scenario I can see here would be a hypothetical escalation of tensions between NATO and WP in the late Cold War prompting Germany to look for something more capable than the F-4F to serve as an interim measure while the Eurofighter is under development. Whichever aircraft gets selected depends largely on Germany's relationship with the country of origin of any given aircraft at the time, and it depends upon the Tornado ADV being deemed inadequate for the defense of German airspace against Soviet fighters, as the Tornado ADV would most likely be the first option.
 

Yankee_Aviator

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And how much was the P1120 unit cost?
No idea.
At which point upgrading the Phantom starts costing as much as newly built aircraft?
The real question is whether or not Germany would have elected to upgrade the Phantom or buy a whole new fleet of aircraft for which they would need to set up a logistical supply chain. Remember, the cost of a new aircraft is not limited to unit cost, there's pilot training, specialized ground equipment, training for ground personnel and mechanics, not to mention setting up a supply chain to ensure that spare parts will be delivered to where they are needed. With these things in mind, the cost of buying new engines and paying for the necessary modifications to the engine bays to accommodate the new engines, along with putting a new radar in the Phantom may have been a more palatable option for Germany. The only way I really see a 4th gen fighter buy in Germany is if there was a significant increase in tensions in the late cold war. In such a scenario they likely would commit to the Eurofighter and any 4th gen procurement would be an interim solution while the EF is under development. So again, the question is, would an F-4 with an FA-18 radar and turbofan engines be competitive against 4th generation fighters? those are the big technological leaps that separate 3rd and 4th generation fighters; afterburning turbofans and the advent of pulse doppler radars, that and generally a greater emphasis on maneuverability.
 

CV12Hornet

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Avionics-wise, yes, by all accounts the upgrade packages brought the Phantom up to early 4th-gen standards.

As far as kinematic performance, these two articles claim a thrust-to-weight above 1, vastly enhanced maneuverability, and outright supercruise. Obviously, take all of this with a grain of salt due to the source credibility, or lack thereof in the case of the National Interest. That said, the math on the thrust to weight checks out and the National Interest article at least has Youtube links to the Israelis showing off the prototype at the 1987 Paris Air Show. So even if it doesn't have supercruise I feel confident in stating the Super Phantom would've been able to keep up with early 4th-gen fighters kinematically.

As far as cost, both articles give a $12 million figure for the upgrade package. According to this source, as of 1987 the USAF and USN were paying the following for new fighters:

F-14: $18.6 million*
F-15: $42 million
F-16: $16.2 million
F/A-18: $31.7 million

So the "significant fraction" mentioned on the AirVectors article is probably referring to the F-16.

*I have no idea how the Navy got that price for that batch of F-14s. They paid $40.7 million per plane back in FY'84 and $68.2 million in FY'88.
 

Antonio

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In summary, Germany, went from 3rd Gen to 4.5th Gen because they loved their Phantoms so much or was it because they joined Eurofighter program thus cancelling their own TKF 90 (4th Gen) program thus needing to update the Phantoms to fill the gap until the Typhoon could be available?
 

Archibald

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The Luftwaffe really liked its F4s and they were seriously upgraded over the years
This is why I think an F-4F ICE with PW1120s should be considered here, it's possible that the Germans would have elected to give the F-4s a more comprehensive upgrade, incorporating turbofan engines of lower weight and increased thrust in relation to the J79, the APG-65 radar (same radar in the Hornet) along with turbofan engines and access to AMRAAMs would effectively turn the Phantom into a 4th generation fighter. The increased thrust would make it stronger than it already was in the 2-circle fight and the PD radar and AMRAAMs would give it bvr capabilities at least on par with the Hornet. The real question is would the Germans pursue/ the US approve such an upgrade earlier on, the ICE came out in the 90s, however in a scenario assuming increased tensions with the Warsaw pact, it's more likely the US would have approved of West German Super Phantoms, and approved of them earlier on.
And how much was the P1120 unit cost? At which point upgrading the Phantom starts costing as much as newly built aircraft?

Share the cost burden with Israel. They had plenty of cool ideas to upgrade their beloved Phantoms (including the Mach 3+ MIPCC beast).
 

apparition13

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Share the cost burden with Israel. They had plenty of cool ideas to upgrade their beloved Phantoms (including the Mach 3+ MIPCC beast).
Luftwaffe Lavi’s to replace the Alpha Jets?
Lavi could replace Phantom. And Alpha Jet. I have to say, Typhoon and Lavi would be a hell of a fleet. Although I suspect Super-Phantoms could be in service a few years sooner than Lavi, and certainly much sooner than Typhoon turned out to be.
 

Keyboard Commando

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Was going alone with the TKF-90 ever seriously considered by the Germans? Perhaps Britain elects to go alone with the BAe P.110 (twin RB.199s and side intakes) and scores sales with Kuwait and the Saudis (who it was intended for initially), maybe Italy or Turkey buys it as well. France has already gone with Rafale, perhaps Spain joins as they considered initially, leaving Germany the odd man out. So they work with Northrop or McDD and bring the TKF-90 to fruition.
 

starviking

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According to this source, as of 1987 the USAF and USN were paying the following for new fighters:

F-14: $18.6 million*

*I have no idea how the Navy got that price for that batch of F-14s. They paid $40.7 million per plane back in FY'84 and $68.2 million in FY'88.
Maybe the F14A+ upgraded airframes?
 

zen

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Or maybe Dassault relents and a Franco-British fighter is the result.....Germany gets excluded and jumps on the Lavi/Nammer alternative.
 
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