While I have proposed design of a fighter aircraft that would be superior to any existing or projected fighter aircraft in the world, USAF is unlikely to ever accept a proposal that uses so much of the non-US technology (that being said, in my NATO air forces proposal a CAS aircraft is mostly based on US technology). Further, it would take at least 3-4 years to put into production – and considering the bureocratic nature of modern design projects and lack of external pressure, more likely timeframe is 15-20 years.
New F-16 would be based on the F-16A, but with major modifications.
Length: 15,06 m
Wing span: 9,96 m
Height: 4,88 m
Wing area: 27,87 m2
12-14 deg/s sustained
1 M61A1 with 511 rounds (511 rounds 134 kg)
7 076 kg empty
9 569 kg with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, gun ammo
11 149 kg AtA takeoff weight
343,3 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, gun ammo
400 kg/m2 AtA takeoff
Thrust-to-Weight ratio (10.809 kgf)
0,97 AtA takeoff
0,31 (7076 kg empty, 3160 kg fuel)
- since the F-16 does not have an IRST, a Skyward IRST should be added so as to allow the completely passive search, track and targeting. Weight gain: 30 kg sensor head, 25 kg processing unit = 55 kg
- AN/APG-66 will be removed and nose redesigned for better high AoA performance. Weight loss: ~120 kg
- MAW-300 IR MAWS will be added. Weight gain: 8,8 kg
- RWS-300 RWR will replace AN/ALR-69 RWR. Weight gain: 8 kg – 19 kg = -11 kg (11 kg weight loss)
- EW system controller unit will be replaced with EWC-300. Weight gain: 8 kg – ? kg = <8 kg
- due to unsuitability of Gattling guns for aerial combat, M61 will be replaced with BK-27. Weight loss: 12 kg
- 511 20 mm rounds weight 134 kg while 280 27 mm rounds weight 144 kg. Weight gain: 10 kg
- F-100-PW-229 turbofan will be used instead of F100-PW-200. Thrust: 8.074 kgf dry, 13.226 kgf wet. Weight gain: 0 kg.
Length: 15,06 m
Wing span: 9,96 m
Height: 4,88 m
Wing area: 27,87 m2
1 BK-27 with 280 rounds
7.000 kg empty
9.503 kg with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, gun ammo
11.083 kg AtA takeoff weight
341 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, gun ammo
398 kg/m2 AtA takeoff
Thrust-to-Weight ratio (13.227 kgf)
1,19 AtA takeoff
0,31 (7.000 kg empty, 3.160 kg fuel)
Comparision with the FLX
Compared to the FLX, it is 29% heavier in terms of empty weight and has 13% higher combat weight, which will result in greater inertia. Its higher wing loading and usage of tailed delta configuration instead of FLXs close-coupled canard delta also reduces instantaneous turn rate, and leads to higher drag during level flight. F-16 could cruise at Mach 1,1 with 2 wingtip missiles; if the version in question was A, then the NG could potentially cruise at up to Mach 1,3 with 2 wingtip missiles or Mach 1,2 with 6 missiles, both inferior to the FLXs Mach 1,5 with 8 missiles, showing inferior thrust-to-drag ratio despite superior thrust-to-weight ratio (due to interference drag caused by horizontal tail, lower wing sweep, higher level flight AoA due to higher wing loading, higher trim drag due to lack of close coupled canard and higher skin drag). Its drag during turn will also be higher since it does not have benefit of close-coupled canards while having higher wing loading (341 vs 259,4 kg/m2 at combat weight), though the difference is somewhat reduced by the F-16s lower span loading (954,1 vs 988,8 kg/m at combat weight).
It should be noted that with both aircraft, wing loading itself is not the best indicator. F-16s tail produces lift during sustained turn, adding 60 ft2 / 5,57 m2, but retracts from lift while pitching aircraft up. This means that effective wing loading is 426,14 kg/m2 during instantaneous and 284,18 kg/m2 during sustained turn. FLXs canards on the other hand have area of 1,01 m2 and increase maximum wing lift by 10-30% over what can be gained from the wing itself, as well as providing additional lift during pitch-up but settling into a neutral position (where they provide no up- or down- -force) during sustained turn. Since it is unlikely that the wing will have experienced a major stall during sustained turn regardless of presence of canards, FLXs effective wing area is 36,65-43,13 m2 during instantaneous turn and 32,4 m2 during sustained turn, leading to wing loading of >190-229 kg/m2 during instantaneous and 259,4 kg/m2 during sustained turn. While both the F-16 and (likely) the FLX achieve maximum lift at 32* degrees AoA, standard F-16s are incapable of reaching that angle of attack due to insufficient directional stability and tendency to pitch up at high angles of attack (caused by widening of the nose in order to accept larger multipurpose radar). F-16NG will not have that problem and will be capable of reaching the maximum lift AoA.
As these values are based on 50% fuel, F-16NG will have significantly lower fuel fraction. At fuel fraction of 0,15, F-16NGs will have 1.527 kg of fuel, leading to combat weight of 9.450 kg, wing loading of 339 kg/m2, span loading of 948,8 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,4. At the same fuel fraction, FLX will have 956 kg of fuel, leading to combat weight of 7.284 kg, wing loading of 225 kg/m2, span loading of 856,9 kg/m and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,44. F-16NG may have superior cruise endurance given the equal fuel fraction, due to larger fuel capacity; this however is offset by higher wing loading (and thus higher 1 g angle of attack), interference drag created by presence of horizontal tail in wing’s plane, and higher span loading leading to higher vortex drag.
Wingspan of less than 8,75 m is required for optimal road basing performance; here the F-16NG is disadvantaged with wing span of 9,96 m compared to the FLXs 8,5 m. Higher wing span and lower effectiveness of outboard control surfaces (due to lack of close-coupled canards) will also reduce F-16NGs roll onset rate; lack of close-coupled canards will lead to lower pitch onset rate. This inferior transient maneuverability will, combined with inferior instantaneous turn rate and acceleration, lead to inferior dogfighting performance.
Both aircraft will have excellent situational awareness thanks to good passive sensor suite and cockpit visibility, but the F-16s larger size and stronger engine would make it more visible on IR sensors and visually (leading to maybe 5-10% greater detection distance, at least). Operating cost per hour would also be higher at >7.000 USD for the F-16NG compared to 4.450 USD for the FLX.
This version would be significantly superior to either the F-16A, F-16C, F-15, F-18 or the F-35 when it comes to air-to-air combat. It would still be inferior to the FLX and to Rafale (or Gripen NG), though it would come close to the F-22, and likely surpass it. It should be cheaper than either Rafale or most other modern fighters with the exception of Gripen.