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Subject: Interesting Perspective on US vs Soviet Tech
earlm    2/10/2010 10:59:04 PM
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. Speed 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. Turning Capability 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. Handling 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
 
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MK       2/12/2010 3:51:55 PM
It has to be taken into account that the variant being discussed in that article is the oldest and least capable variant. The MiG-29 has been further developed since, in at least 3 major variants. Newer versions eliminate many of the original variants shortcomings or at least reduce them to a great extend.
 
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warpig       2/12/2010 5:18:36 PM

It has to be taken into account that the variant being discussed in that article is the oldest and least capable variant. The MiG-29 has been further developed since, in at least 3 major variants. Newer versions eliminate many of the original variants shortcomings or at least reduce them to a great extend.

He does address that point briefly.  He asserts out that the 9.13 (FULCRUM C) is not much different from the 9.12 (FULCRUM A):  Some more internal fuel and an internal GARDENIA jammer.  As for versions like the MiG-29SMT and MiG-35, he points out (and I consider it a pretty good argument) that those modernized versions are almost non-existent.  But you are right, there are improved versions of the MiG-29 beyond the early version he describes.  That's why he compares it to an F-16 Block40.
 
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earlm       2/12/2010 6:00:03 PM

Thanks for posting this!

 

Very interesting.



My favorite stuff to read is 1v1 by guys who've been in the cockpit.  Fascinating stuff.  In the course of their commentary you learbn a lot.  I hope Leroy conmes back to the board, he had some stuff in that vein.
 
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Galderio       2/14/2010 12:04:28 AM
I found that one MiG-31 foxhound can guide up to four MiG-29s to a target, like a mini-awacs. Some books say the foxhounds can be  linked diretly to each others to make coperative engagements, and it seems to be true. 
 
Does anyone have better information about this?
 
 
 
 
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Galderio       2/14/2010 12:20:48 AM
"I found that one MiG-31 foxhound can guide up to four MiG-29s to a target"
 
It would act like a ground control radar.
Maybe it means the fulcrum could keep the radar off untill the last minute, or using the IRST it coud make passive attacks at some ranges. Good for the 80s, I guess.
 
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MK       2/14/2010 2:07:57 PM

He does address that point briefly.  He asserts out that the 9.13 (FULCRUM C) is not much different from the 9.12 (FULCRUM A):  Some more internal fuel and an internal GARDENIA jammer.  As for versions like the MiG-29SMT and MiG-35, he points out (and I consider it a pretty good argument) that those modernized versions are almost non-existent.  But you are right, there are improved versions of the MiG-29 beyond the early version he describes.  That's why he compares it to an F-16 Block40.

That's of course correct and a fair point. I intended to point out the availability of more advanced designs however. The MiG-29M was never introduced, but it was largely developed and tested since 1986. This aircraft could have been available in the early 90s at the time of the original block 50/52. The block 40 is 5 or 6 years younger than the Fulcrum A.
 
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violentnuke       2/23/2010 1:50:46 AM
By the way, you want the intake to get the air to subsonic before hitting compressor as the process itself increases compression and helps reduce size of the compressor. Once that kinetic energy is turned into pressure energy (like a compressing spring damper system), heat and gas is added and the spring action's qualities of air energized resulting in sonic (cone tappered down) or supersonic (cone tappered out) exhaust. Obviously if your inlet is fixed you only have one fixed design mach wave angle being formed to the lip of the compressor, beyond which you either have too much compression or irregular shock and supersonic patterns at the compressor level resulting in inefficiencies. At certain temperature and compression levels, it becomes so hot the nitrogen in the air dissociates and absorbs the heat and the engine loses power. It's why ram jet engines are preferable at higher speeds but still have subsonic chambers. Scramjets (supersonic ramjet chambers) are still very difficult to pull/figure out as the combustible must also be introduced supersonicaly while hypersonic shock waves slow the air to supersonic levels and bounce around the chamber.
 
From the German experience with Mig29, I was hearing that the Eastern pilots were so bad that F4 phantoms were beating them air to air. West German fighter pilots had to retrain them in their own airplanes to start getting results against the F16. West German pilots are very very good pilots and killed F18s and F16s with their migs, though I hear the British still beat them WVR with Harrier using thrust vectoring in Sardinia exercises. BVR the Harrier lost unless it did a 90 degree flight path spoofing the doppler radar of the mig once the pilot heard the pinging in his headsets. Meanwhile the older conventional British radar could monitor them.
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Vectored Thrust...   2/25/2010 9:49:14 AM
"..though I hear the British still beat them WVR with Harrier using thrust vectoring in Sardinia exercises. .."
 
The Harrier is a generally poor performer in air to air combat (the Falklands expedition was a unique set of circumstances that allowed the Brits to dominate an opponent who was operating at extreme range and without the best tactics). The last thing you would ever want to do in a Harrier v. a Mig-29 or F-teen series is throw the brakes on and loose what precious speed (energy) you have in a manuver that will leave you essentially hanging in space waiting for your opponent's missile to fly up your pants.
 
It is a silly concept with lots of references to refute it ever being used effectively.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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Phaid       2/25/2010 11:27:13 AM
Re: Harriers.  What makes the Sea Harrier deadly in WVR is not VIFFing.  It is the fact that the Harrier is very small, has an excellent sustained turn rate at low speed and low altitude, and has a low IR signature from above the wingline due to the distribution and placement of its exhausts.  Sea Harrier pilots have beaten everything from F-15As in the early 1980s to Rafales in the 2000s and never needed VIFFing to do it. Their "trick" was either to get the drop on the other aircraft, or lure them into a low speed turning fight where the Harrier is much more capable.
 
At the speeds where VIFFing would be possible, the Harrier already has an enormous advantage over fighters that are optimized for transsonic combat, and wouldn't need to VIFF anyway.  VIFFing in combat is about as realistic as Cobras and probably practiced about as regularly - which is to say, never.
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Harrier cont'd....   2/25/2010 12:30:21 PM

Re: Harriers.  What makes the Sea Harrier deadly in WVR is not VIFFing.  It is the fact that the Harrier is very small, has an excellent sustained turn rate at low speed and low altitude, and has a low IR signature from above the wingline due to the distribution and placement of its exhausts.  Sea Harrier pilots have beaten everything from F-15As in the early 1980s to Rafales in the 2000s and never needed VIFFing to do it. Their "trick" was either to get the drop on the other aircraft, or lure them into a low speed turning fight where the Harrier is much more capable.


 

At the speeds where VIFFing would be possible, the Harrier already has an enormous advantage over fighters that are optimized for transsonic combat, and wouldn't need to VIFF anyway.  VIFFing in combat is about as realistic as Cobras and probably practiced about as regularly - which is to say, never.

The FA-2 Sea Harrier was equipped with a pulse dopler "blue vixen" radar system that allowed it to dominate Mig-29 type aircraft in the BVR arena (like a head-on closure). Later models were carrying AAMRAMs. That is a capability that comparable SU 27s and Mig-29s didn't have. Once inside of the merge a competent SU/Mig pilot would be able to keep outside of the FA-2's weapons envelope while maintaining the initiative, waiting for a chance to score a kill shot. Remember the Russians could theoretically launch with a helmet guided IR shot while climbing, inverted, over the top in response to a tight Harrier turn.
 
For all of the hoopla about the Falklands campaign those RAF Harriers allowed allot of UK warships to get shellacked by Argentine fighter-bombers. The kill ratio in the air was all Brit, but that rings somewhat hollow with the Gallahad and the Shefield being lost, as well as others hit.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
The Harrier always lacks power v. a F-teen or the more advanced Russian types.
 
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