|I've got over 500 hours in the MiG-29 and 2000 hours in the F-16 (I also flew the F-15A/C and the F-5E). The following is an excerpt from a research papaer I wrote while working on a Master's Degree in aerospace engineering. Bottom line: F16 (and F-15) good, MiG-29 bad.
MiG-29 Fulcrum Versus F-16 Viper
The baseline MiG-29 for this comparison will be the MiG-29A (except for 200 kg more fuel and an internal jammer, the MiG-29C was not an improvement over the MiG-29A), as this was the most widely deployed version of the aircraft. The baseline F-16 will be the F-16C Block 40. Although there is a more advanced and powerful version of the F-16C, the Block 40 was produced and fielded during the height of Fulcrum production.
A combat loaded MiG-29A tips the scales at approximately 38, 500 pounds. This figure includes a full load of internal fuel, two AA-10A Alamo missiles, four AA-11 Archer missiles, 150 rounds of 30mm ammunition and a full centerline 1,500 liter external fuel tank. With 18,600 pounds of thrust per engine, this gives the Fulcrum a takeoff thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.97:1. A similarly loaded air-to-air configured F-16 Block 40 would carry four AIM-120 AMRAAM active radar-guided missiles, two AIM-9M IR-guided missiles, 510 rounds of 20mm ammunition and a 300 gallon external centerline fuel tank. In this configuration, the F-16 weighs 31,640 pounds. With 29,000 pounds of thrust, the F-16 has a takeoff thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.92:1. The reader should be cautioned that these thrust-to-weight ratios are based on uninstalled thrust. Once an engine is installed in the aircraft, it produces less thrust than it does on a test stand due to the air intake allowing in less air than the engine has available on the test stand.
The actual installed thrust-to-weight ratios vary based on the source. On average, they are in the 1:1 regime or better for both aircraft. The centerline fuel tanks can be jettisoned and probably would be if the situation dictated with an associated decrease in drag and weight and an increase in performance.
Both aircraft display good performance throughout their flight regimes in the comparison configuration. The MiG-29 enjoys a speed advantage at high altitude with a flight manual limit of Mach 2.3. The F-16’s high altitude limit is
Mach 2.05 but this is more of a limit of inlet design. The MiG-29 has variable geometry inlets to control the shock wave that forms in the inlet and prevent supersonic flow from reaching the engine. The F-16 employs a simple fixed-geometry inlet with a sharp upper lip that extends out beyond the lower portion of the inlet. A shock wave forms on this lip and prevents the flow in the intake from going supersonic. The objective is to keep the air going into the engine subsonic unlike a certain ‘subject matter expert’ on this website who thinks that the air should be accelerated to even higher speeds than the aircraft is traveling. Supersonic air in the compressor section? That’s bad.
Both aircraft have the same indicated airspeed limit at lower altitudes of
810 knots. This would require the centerline tanks to be jettisoned. The placard limits for the tanks are 600 knots or Mach 1.6 (Mach 1.5 for the MiG-29) whichever less is. It was the researcher’s experience that the MiG-29 would probably not reach this limit unless a dive was initiated. The F-16 Block 40 will easily reach 800 knots on the deck. In fact, power must be reduced to avoid exceeding placard limits. The limit is not thrust, as the F-16 has been test flown on the plus side of 900 knots. The limit for the F-16 is the canopy. Heating due to air friction at such speeds will cause the polycarbonate canopy to get soft and ultimately fail.
The MiG-29 and F-16 are both considered 9 G aircraft. Until the centerline tank is empty, the Fulcrum is limited to four Gs and the Viper to seven Gs. The
MiG-29 is also limited to seven Gs above Mach 0.85 while the F-16, once the centerline tank is empty (or jettisoned) can go to nine Gs regardless of airspeed or Mach number. The MiG-29’s seven G limit is due to loads on the vertical stabilizers. MAPO has advertised that the Fulcrum could be stressed to 12 Gs and still not hurt the airframe. This statement is probably wishful and boastful. The German Luftwaffe, which flew its MiG-29s probably more aggressively than any other operator, experienced cracks in the structure at the base of the vertical tails. The F-16 can actually exceed nine Gs without overstressing the airframe. Depending on configuration, momentary overshoots to as much as 10.3 Gs will not cause any concern with aircraft maintainers.
Of the four fighters I have flown, the MiG-29 has by far the worst handling qualities. The hydro-mechanical flight control system uses an artificial feel system of springs and pulleys to simulate control force changes with varying airspeeds and altitudes. There is a stability augmentation sys