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    F-20 Tigershark: Risky business Part 2
    MigBuster
    By MigBuster,
      In part 2 we continue to look at the Northrop F-20A Tigershark and how its story intertwines with other aircraft programs of the 1980s.     Another F-20 is flown The second Pre-production F-20 (82-0063 / GI1001) was flown in August 1983. This configuration included a bigger radome, enlarged canopy, and an up-rated 17,000 lb thrust F404 engine. (Note: The first pre-production jet mentioned in part 1 (82-0062) also received the 17,000 lb thrust engine in 1983.) Also note: “Pre-production” means that Northrop was not going through a Prototype or Full Scale Development (FSD) phase so these aircraft were actually intended to be sold with the F-20 upgrades and changes.  F-20 #2 (Northrop Grumman)     Let’s get some people on board to really help sell it (F-20 Tigershark Vs F-15) You remember the Light Weight Fighter Mafia right – well they had mostly since left the Pentagon and had reformed as the err “Reformers” (or “Critics” to the USAF), which included John Boyd, Ex USAF Col Everest Riccioni, Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney and James Fallows. James Fallows was Washington editor for The Atlantic Monthly.( Described as an anti-military liberal journalist) Fallows had cottoned onto the Reformers in 1979 when researching ideas on how to cut military budgets and had interviewed John Boyd who was still smarting over what was done to the F-16. Fallows was able to gain publicity for the Reformers and their ideas, for example through the best-selling book National Defense in 1981. The Reformers had jumped on the AIMVAL/ACEVAL (Air Intercept Missile Evaluation / Air Combat Evaluation) results in the late 1970s where Red force F-5s had faced off against a blue force of F-15 and F-14s, and the book National Defense was the perfect platform to spin the results. The book took choice cuts from the results carefully omitting information that didn’t fit their agenda and the press went for it, with the Chicago Tribune printing that the F-15 had been “fought to all but a draw” by the F-5 and CBS calling the F-15 a “turkey”. In National Defense reformer Everest Riccioni claimed F-15s couldn’t fly many sorties and so the Air Force actually had a “Phantom fleet”. He then claimed the Air Force could buy 1000 advanced F-5s (The F-20) for the cost of 250 F-15s and generate 10 times more sorties in wartime (2500 v 250). Did I mention that Northrop had hired Everest Riccioni and Pierre Sprey at the time and Riccioni was working on the F-20 program. In reality what had happened in AIMVAL/ACEVAL was that tactics used were not entirely realistic and a lot of it was skewed in favour of the F-5. Despite this the F-15 still had a 2.5 Kill ratio in favour and the AIM-7 (another Reformers target) was responsible of the majority of the simulated kills. From the USAF point of view neither Pierre Sprey or Everest Riccioni had any credibility compared to John Boyd (who had taken a back seat at this stage) and the scraping nails account of this episode suggests this did more harm than good to the F-20 program regarding US support. F-15C - Can you say “it’s a Turkey” in a Pierre Sprey accent? (Airliners.net)         What else could have upset the USAF Although a typical sales tactic, Northrop had no real data to back up any claims they were making for the F-20 such as cost, reliability and sortie rate. For example, as RAND point out………. Northrop claims of reliability on the F-20 were pretty much irrelevant. Only 1500 flights in a “test” environment with hand-picked engineers cannot be compared to years of “operational” experience the F-16 had around the world maintained by guys with varied experience in different environments. True cost and sortie rate could never be known as none ever went operational. Some of Northrop’s claims also seemed to stay the same despite airframe and avionics changes that would increase cost.       F-20 goes to Top Gun Back in the mid-1970s the USAF were allocated F-5s that never made it to South Vietnam that were wanted because they were very similar in performance and some other aspects to the MiG-21 and so were perfect to use as aggressors at Red Flag. Naturally in 1984 when the US Navy wanted a MiG-29 simulator / aggressor for Top Gun, Northrop seeing a way in offered the F-20A at a low price with its promise of lower operating costs. Senator Pete Wilson had managed to get money through congress in the hope the F-20 was selected.   General Dynamics also offered the F-16N (F-16C Block 30 with gun replaced by ballast) for a very low £11m each which was the same unit price as the F-20.  The USN went with the F-16 which they believed to be a better simulator for 4th Gen threats…and it probably was being a bit larger with superior performance, also high-tech avionics were not required, in fact they stuck in the basic APG-66 radar from the A model. The USN literally got steal of the century on unit cost here…………. or they would have done if someone at the Navy hadn’t specified titanium wing attachment brackets without testing them (another story). F-16N (Lockheed Martin)             Another F-20A flies The third pre-production F-20 (82-0064 / GI1002) first flew on May 12 1984 and was similar to 82-0063 / GI1001 in configuration it seems. F-20 Pre-production figures from Flight Manual    F-20 #3 (Northrop Grumman)         Tragedy befalls Northrop and the program On the 10th October 1984 the first pre-production F-20 (82-0062) crashed at Suwon Air Base in Korea killing pilot Darrell Cornell. Cornell had apparently succumbed to G-LOC after a 9G pull up as part of practicing an established demonstration routine with the aircraft appearing unresponsive after the maneuver.       The Northrop F-18L and McAir All this time Northrop had been having a handbag face slapping argument with McDonnell Douglas (McAir). In October 1979, Northrop filled a $700 million antitrust suit against McAir. Northrop had developed the YF-17 for the Light Weight Fighter (LWF) competition in 1974 and this was later developed into the FA-18 carrier-based fighter under some kind of teaming agreement. Under this agreement McAir as prime contractor would build 60% of the carrier capable FA-18 and Northrop would build 40%. For the land-based F-18L Northrop were prime contractor building 60% and McAir building 40%. The Northrop F-18L was what might have been if the YF-17 had won in 74. Without all the extra weight needed for carrier ops and a totally different 9G structure it was over 2500 lbs lighter with a top end of M2.0 and was initially specified with a hard wing losing 3000 lbs of fuel reducing its range. Northrop basically had accused McAir of trying to monopolize the business and basically interfering with the F-18Ls chances of success in the export market by launching active sales efforts for the FA-18 to potential customers when they showed interest in the F-18L. Another suit also claimed McAir was unfairly using Northrop technology from the F-18L to sell its own FA-18. McAir then counter-sued against Northrop, claiming that the Northrop F-20 avionics had been taken from the McAir FA-18…….   The suit was finally settled by April 1985……. which meant McDonnell Douglas would pay Northrop $50 million and become the prime/sole contractor for all FA-18s including export sales, and thus the F-18L was never heard from again………….. The F-18L - another unloved Light Weight Fighter devoid of orders (Northrop Grumman)       F-16C v F-20A merge head on In April 1985 to try and finally get some sales from the US Government, Northrop offered 396 F-20s to replace current F-16C production at a fixed price of $15 million, undercutting the F-16C fixed price of $18 million. General Dynamics hit back with a 720-plane proposal for stripped down F-16s at $13.5 million each with cheaper avionics. These were apparently jokingly referred to as the “F-16C-minus”. This clearly came to nothing.   F-20 #3 again (Northrop Grumman)     Another Tragedy On the 14th May 1985 at Goose Bay, Canada the second pre-production F-20 (82-0063 / GI1001) crashed in a similar manner to the first killing Dave Barnes. Barnes was incapacitated during or after a 9G pull up as part of the demonstration being practised for the Paris air show. With no flight recorder on board the enquiry attributed this again to G-LOC and possibly a result of reduced G tolerance after flying four high G demonstration flights that day.       The Air Defense Fighter (ADF) competition In 1986 the US Air Force (as ordered by Congress) held a competition for 270 mainland Interceptors for the defense of the Continental US. Both the F-20 and F-16 were contenders, and good point defense fighters despite the reservations of some. Sadly, again the F-20 was not favoured for a few reasons: · The F-20 was not in production so the costs couldn’t be guaranteed The cost to operate and maintain it would be higher than Northrop had claimed.   In the end neither the General Dynamics or the Northrop proposal were selected by the Air Force, instead it was decided to take 270 F-16A Block 15s in service from the Air National Guard (ANG) and modify them to an ADF and OCU (Operational Capability Upgrade) standard, with: A higher thrust F100-PW-220 engine Capability to use bigger 600 US Gal drop tanks An Advanced IFF interrogator An upgraded APG-66 (V) 1 radar with increased range, small target capability and the capability to fire AIM-120 and AIM-7.   F-16 A Air Defense Fighters (USAF)       Making the F-20 better (The fourth Pre-production jet) Interestingly by the 1986 ADF competition there had been changes to the F-20 to increase range and deal with carriage of AIM-7s with proposals to: Increase internal fuel to 5050 lbs by replacing the fuselage bladder with integral fuel tanks. Increase external drop tank size. Increase thrust of the F404 to 18000 lbs to offset the extra weight and drag. New Electromagnetic Maneuvering flaps. Fly By Wire control system with backup Hydromechanical controls (similar to FA-18) Northrop & GE were also working on an upgraded APG-67 radar with enhanced range. This was proposed by putting a bigger antenna on it and moving it back in the nose. Luckily, they also intended to replace the obsolete M39s with a single modern gun to make some room for the radar move. This is said to have been planned for the fourth Pre-Production aircraft (82-0065/ GI1003) but was only 25% compete when cancelled. This remained a paper airplane but nonetheless a valiant effort to reduce some of the performance deficiencies. Of course, the glaring problem here is that by making these changes the cost and complexity increases, reducing its advertised selling points and ending up with a jet that offers nothing significant over the F-16 and FA-18…………and unfortunately the US was still not interested in buying it.     The end Northrop closed the F-20 program at the end of 1986 at the cost of around $1.2 billion……… it just was not meant to be with everything against it. However, despite the loss Northrop were still doing okay out of the FA-18, ATF (YF-23) and B-2 programs at that time. No conciliation to them but perhaps an example of how competition can sometimes benefit US services by keeping cost down.     Summary of the F-5G/F-20A Pre-Production Aircraft     F-20A on Display at the California Science Center https://californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/air-space/air-aircraft/f-20-tigershark                     Sources F-20A Utility Flight Manual (NTM 1F-20A-1) for GI1001 & GI1002, Jan 1984 (Northrop) Northrop F-5G/F20A Tigershark (Baugher J ) 2000 online at http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/f5_51.html A Case study of the F-20 Tigershark (Martin, Schmidt) 1987, RAND Corporation The Reformers (Correll JT), Feb 2008 Air Force Magazine. P40-44 The Revolt of the Majors How the Air Force changed after Vietnam (Michell III, ML) Auburn University Sierra Hotel: Flying Air Force fighters in the decade after Vietnam. (Anderegg CR) 2001 Air Force History and Museums Program Boyd (Coram R) 2002, Back Bay Books F-20A Tigershark (Wade, M) 2007 online at http://www.thecid.com/f20a/index.html F-16.net online at http://www.f-16.net/ Code One Magazine (General Dynamics) Northrop F-18L (Baugher J), 2000 online at http://www.joebaugher.com/navy_fighters/f18_9.html Huge Lawsuit settled, ( AP News archive) 1985, online at http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1985/Huge-Lawsuit-Settled/id-cca766d9766ec7f4d1aa29c5ca5db7cb The Land Based F-18L, Flight International December 1978 p2034-2035 Title Photos for Part 1 and Part 2 from Northrop Grumman    

    F-20 Tigershark: Risky business Part 1
    MigBuster
    By MigBuster,
    Northrop fighter programs and luck are not things you will often hear in the same sentence. Here we look at the short lived Tigershark and some of its contenders for the lucrative 1980s export market.     In the 1960s and through the 1970s Northrop produced and sold the superb F-5AB Freedom Fighter and F-5EF Tiger II to the export Foreign Military Sales (FMS) market. In fact over 30 countries had procured 2600 F-5s in 28 different configurations by the mid-1980s. In the late 1970s Taiwan had a requirement for a fighter that could fire BVR missiles like the AIM-7 – unfortunately the US government had to appease mainland China so the F-4/F-16/F-18 were out……… and so the US Department of Defense (DOD) asked Northrop to adapt the F-5E.   F-5E Aggressor (Airliners.net)   Sadly, with AIM-7s and a bigger radar, performance of the new F-5E was lackluster and Taiwan was not interested. So, the DoD asked Northrop to look into a more suitable configuration, which ended up with a new F404 engine and the designation of F-5G. The Carter administration at the time decided to put a cap on exports to certain developing countries and stipulated the US would only export fighters that were modifications of existing aircraft and thus "inferior" to US front line fighters. Also, any company submitting proposals had to fund it themselves! The ruling favoured the less advanced F-5G and not the F-16A, so with Northrop already having the F-5 market to themselves it sounded like a risk worth taking.     The FX proposal (F-5G Vs the F-16-79) The requirement for the FX was for a fighter with performance somewhere between the F-5E and the F-16A, and so Northrop and General Dynamics submitted their proposals.   Northrop F-5G The proposed F-5G turned out to be far superior to the F-5E, the choice of GE 404 turbofan engine in 1978 gave the F-5 around 60% more thrust (16,000 lbs max) and really was the jewel in the crown here.  This engine was also being used for the FA-18 and despite not being mature it had potential to be simpler, lighter, more reliable with less IR signature than the old turbojets (like the J79) with far less fuel consumption. With Digital Engine Controls the pilot didn’t have to worry about compressor stalling the thing. This certainly looked to have superior performance to the F-16-79 on paper. Northrop would have to develop avionics inferior to those in the F-16A for export purposes and looked at bids from Westinghouse, Emerson, Hughes, Norden and General Electric (GE) however none were chosen before the F-5G configuration had to be upgraded.   General Dynamics F-16-79 RAND called the F-16-79 half hearted, however General Dynamics had to find ways to cripple the F-16 in certain areas and one way to do this was to use the J79-GE-17X engine. The idea was that there were a lot of used J79s available in the world………so in theory this would be cheaper and easier to maintain and upgrade for these export customers. ·         The J79 engine was a slightly enhanced version of that in the F-104 & F-4 (was originally for the F-4). It had around 18,000 lbs max thrust and a bit more with a feature called “Combat Edge” that could be used for very short periods. ·         The F-16-79 had over 2000 lbs extra weight due to the heat shielding for the J79 and different Air intake and changes to the rear of the fuselage. ·         Range was significantly reduced. ·         Despite inferior performance to the F100 in the F-16A, the F-16-79 was actually faster top end due to the J79 and the different air intake. It is the only F-16 to fly over M2.1 in level flight as known.   Plenty flew the converted F-16B Block 0 (75-0752) and no one was impressed. It lacked performance where it mattered and more importantly the USAF were not flying it. For some reason Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers decided to get delusions of grandeur at that period in time and expected to fly what the top air forces flew.   F-16-79: note the very different engine! (Lockheed Martin)   Disaster strikes As is life with any risks a government can come in change things for everybody (not just large corporations). In 1981 Jimmy Carter was out and Ronald Reagan (The actor!*) was in the White House and things quickly went south. Carters export policy was backed at first but it would seem export customers were not happy unless they were flying the same toys as the USAF. Export restrictions were lifted in 1983 and the F-5G was now competing against the real F-16A. (bollox) Let’s look at what Northrop was now faced with: ·         The F-16 was an established Air Force program with a Multi Staged Improvement Program and established logistics chain. ·         The USAF flew the F-16……………. again FMS customers were now picky and wanted to fly a jet the USAF flew and supported. ·         The F-16A was superior in turn performance, range, payload, comparable in climb and had better growth potential. ·         Buying more F-16s would favour the US by keeping the cost of them lower and the cost was now getting lower due to more buys from the Reagan Administration.     Ronald Reagan in Spitting Image form (ITV)   Changing a Tigers stripes Not giving up Northrop decided to roll up their sleeves and get busy……or throw lots of money at the problem. All they had to do was make the F-5G beyond exceptional and also somehow pander to the US Government and the USAF to get them to buy it…. simple. Northrop now had to market the F-5G as a 4th Generation jet somehow, so the F-5G first became the Tigershark, which later became the F-20A Tigershark. Northrop had decided to concentrate all their funds on the one area they could compete………. that being avionics.   The F-20A takes off The First Pre-Production Tigershark (82-0062 / GG1001) first flew in April of 1982 with a 16,000 lb thrust YF404 engine and revised rear fuselage with larger tail. It also had an hydromechanical flight control system with a computer-controlled Augmentation system (CAS)  F-20 #1 (Northrop Grumman)   Avionics extraordinaire In June 1981 Northrop had taken the step of telling General Electric (GE) to build a radar above and beyond the export spec and ideally superior in every way to the AN/APG-66 in the F-16A except range………. this was given the designation AN/APG-67. Ex USAF fighter pilot Pat “Gums” McAdoo was hired by Northrop as a consultant and used / saw some of the avionic developments, and confirmed they were far better than what was in the F-16A and in some ways better than what was being done for the F-16C Block 25 at the time. ·         Pilot interface was very easy to use for non-geeks and had been developed partly by an ex F-100 pilot. Some of these concepts were similar to the FA-18 and some found their way into later versions of the F-16C ·         The APG-67 radar was way Beyond the basic APG-66 radar and had more modes such as Track While Scan, Velocity search and a great Ground Map ·         Ring-laser Inertial Navigation System (INS) made start up very quick. ·         Had visual and radar bomb modes (CCIP / CCRP). ·         Flight control system in development was similar to the FA-18 a Fly By Wire augmentation system with hydromechanical backup.   The F-20 was the ideal foreign military sales jet.  It had short legs, but very quick response times from a cold start. The RLG inertial was awesome. The radar was way beyond what the Viper had at the time - track-while-scan, velocity search, really nice ground map, etc. The data entry design was awesome. Using the entry panel below the HUD was really easy, The most surprising thing was the MacIntosh-style stuff on the MFD's. I had not even seen a MAC when I showed up. But one great example was the radar display on one of the MFD'S. If you moved the cursor over to a radar mode or a range indication, then you got a pop-up menu and could cursor to desired mode and hit the "designate" button.    Pats involvement also gives us some insight into what the USAF considered important in a combat jet at that time. The avionics were vastly improved thanks to digital computers but they were still just a step up from the 3rd Gen paradigm with many flaws. The F-20 was a very capable interceptor with a great radar and great performance. RLG inertial that took less than a minute to align, TWS radar, extremely easy to use all the avionics. In short, I liked it. But I liked the Viper more, despite its crappy hands-on controls compared to the F-20. It had better turn performance and much better legs and could carry more pig iron. AN/APG-67 in TWS mode (Northrop Grumman)   Head Up Display (HUD) in CCIP mode (Northrop Grumman)   Let’s sell this thing anyway Another consultant and ex USAF legend working with Pat at Northrop was Charles “Chuck” Yeager who also flew the pre-production birds. Chuck was used on the promotional videos and you can hear the sales pitch here:      How to rub salt into wounds   In 1982 (Just as the F-20 marketing began to get into swing) under pressure from China, Reagan had vetoed the export of the F-5G and F-16 to Taiwan and thus the launch customer and the whole reason for the F-5G existing went down the pan. Luckily for Taiwan (and less luckily for Northrop) a program to develop another fighter was started in its place with rival General Dynamics (probably to the slight annoyance of Northrop). This fighter developed by AIDC and General Dynamics was to become the F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo and to rub in more salt they even incorporated the APG-67 radar developed for the F-20! AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo (Airliners.net)       Let’s now take the urine In 1983 Reagan allowed funding for Israel to start development of their own fighter in this class that turned into the IAI Lavi. Clearly from Northrop’s point of view the logic that US tax payers should pay for the Lavi while Northrop funded the F-20 by itself seemed a tad off. Eventually this logic may have caught up with the US government when Israel cancelled the program in 1987 influenced by a clear change of attitude from the US. IAI Lavi   (Military-Today.com)     In part 2 Northrop hire Pierre Sprey.....................     * Yes that is a reference to Back to the Future........I thank you.

    Il2 DD Update Dev Blog 190 (P-39 Cockpit)
    76.IAP-Blackbird
    By 76.IAP-Blackbird,
    Hello everybody, Today we don't have a lot of news, we just want to tell you that the work on 3.001 update is near its end. We have 20 Career mission types working of 25 planned for the release. The most of the initially found issues are fixed and some tweaks are already in the place. To give you a general idea of the scale of this update, its change list will contain 90 items, nearly a third of which are significant changes and improvements. The sheer number of these changes means that after 3.001 release hotfixes will likely follow because there could be problems that couldn't be found by the testers. We're sure this teething period will be short. P-39L-1 cockpit is almost ready, perhaps we'll spend 1-2 days for final 'polishing' of its textures, but we can already show you its overall look.  All other changes and additions planned for 3.001 release are finished. Therefore, we plan to release this humongous update in 2-3 weeks. We want to release it as soon as possible ourselves: all we're doing we're doing for you and your feedback is very important for us. But we need to make a bit more effort to give you the result that will not only be massive, but also good functioning, so these days will be spent on debugging and refinement of the new functionality. You can discuss the news in this thread

    F-16XL: A great idea at the wrong time 
    MigBuster
    By MigBuster,
    The F-16XL was a design named after………..a golf ball………..that being the Top Flite XL for any who ever played Golf. Harry Hillaker was also a golfer….one with a problem in that the USAF wanted to use his A-A fighter (F-16A) in an A-G role hanging lots of pods and bombs off it which was just not on!    So, what did he do and why?
    He and his design team at General Dynamics redesigned the F-16 to be more suitable to an A-G role using such concepts as high internal fuel loads and conformal carriage of weapons to get that nasty drag and radar cross section right down. In fact when he first started going to the Air Force with plans for the XL they were so enthusiastic about it they apparently accused him of holding the design back so that they (General Dynamics) could sell the F-16 twice. Goals to improve operational effectiveness included:
    •    Improve the A-G role without degrading A-A capability.
    •    Increased survivability, though increased speed, manoeuvrability and low radar cross section. The idea was to replace the F-16 and remain a lower cost fighter to the high cost F-15.   So, some concept demonstrators were knocked together for testing?
    Yes, two of the Full Scale Development (Block Zero) F-16s were converted by doing such things as stretching their fuselages, removing the ventral strakes and gluing on some new cranked delta wings or double deltas. F-16XL-1 was 75-749 and had the F100-PW-200 engine, and F-16XL-2 was 75-747 which started life as single seater but was converted to the XL as a duel seater with the higher thrust F110-GE-100 engine.  
      
      Were the goals met?
    Most of them, the low drag weapons carriage and lots of internal fuel meant vastly improved range over the F-16A (that already had comparative long legs), carried more A-G weapons, with ability to lug along 6 x A-A missiles on top. High AoA handling and instantaneous turn was improved. Cruise speed was also improved.  This is a part of a 1989 write up by General Dynamics test pilot Joe Bill Dryden:
    Pitch rate in all configurations was as good as to slightly better than a Block 10 A model (No slouch in itself) and the roll response was better. On several occasions, during demonstrations with VIPs, I had to remind them that we had 12 MK82s on the airplane! They would frequently forget because of the ease with which the airplane would attain high airspeed…….How high an airspeed? Mull this over for a while, you put 6 MK82s on your little airplane, plus tanks and try to get close to my radius. ill put 12 x MK82s on board with no tanks, still go further than you can and for the same fuel flow by going 60 to 80 knots faster than you. I risk going in to the classified arena, but with the right fuses on the bombs you could get well on the plus side of the Mach, all the while enjoying a much better ride.    Is there a but here?
    Yes using the F100-PW-200 engine from the F-16A, it was a tad underpowered, more F-14A than F-16A………..so take off requirements were nowhere near and some of it’s A-A capability was a bit degraded you could say. Perhaps an example from one of the Red Eagles pilots who flew some BFM against it in a MiG-21F-13:
    [Red Eagle Matheny flying the MiG] “We briefed each other about our airplanes and they [Edwards F-16XL pilots] turned to me and said they would be all over me – they had a roll rate of 800 degrees per second, which was the fastest in the inventory. – I got to thinking about that and it turned out the roll rate meant nothing. The problem with that airplane[F-16XL] was that it was a big bleeder: it just bled speed like nothing else when forced to turn hard – I ate them alive in the MiG-21. The F-15E on the other hand was a pretty good performer – they resisted the urge to get slow and jump in a phone booth with a MiG. They flew around the ranges at low level trying to burn off all this gas and he still needed to burn off more when we joined up on each other”.   Could they not have improved that somewhere?
    Potentially, the second F-16XL had higher thrust F110-GE-100 engine but unfortunately the majority of the evaluation data and the Dual Role Fighter evaluation was done with the lesser thrusted F-100-PW-200. In fact Harry Hillaker stated they were not allowed to use the GE engine in the evaluation (see below) for whatever reason. NASA later got it supercruising with a F-100-GE-129 (29,500 lbs class), and by the late 1990s both General Electric and Pratt & Whitney offered suitable engines with a potential max thrust class to 36,000lbs and 37,000 lbs respectively.     Was there some competition against the F-15 at some point?
    There was a USAF competitive evaluation originally called the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) competition, which in 1981 was renamed to became the Dual Role Fighter (DRF) competition. Technically not really a competition because both were evaluated and flight tested to totally different sets of conditions and to different flight test plans it seems.   Why did the USAF run this evaluation?
    It was felt by some in the USAF the F-111F was becoming a bit outdated and instead of just an upgrade they wanted something that had A-A capability and a good precision night strike role against the Soviet masses.   So, they chose two short assed fighters to replace the F-111?
    Pretty much – they would both get LANTIRN eventually and have a good A-A capability but still lacking in range.   Surely the F-16 was cheaper was it not?
    On unit cost and cost per flight hour yes – but the USAF considered the F-16XL a radical new airframe compared to the F-15E, which was considered just a modification, so the USAF estimated research and development cost would be higher for the F-16XL.   Okay but in the end the F-15 was chosen as the winner and that was that.
    No – following the DRF decision that the F-15E was going into production in February 1984, the USAF announced its intention to put the Single seat F-16XL into production anyway with the designation F-16F. So, work began on the F-16F design concept and Full Scale development into 1985.   So where is it then?
    The program was terminated in late 1985 by the USAF it later appears there was no budget for every program out there such as the ATF (F-22) and black projects such as F-117 that were unknowns to most who ran the DRF so sadly the F-16F had to take the chop - basically lack of funding finally killed it off.       End of the F-16XL – not quite
    The two F-16XLs were given to NASA in the late 1980s for various types of flight testing and we can thank them for taking some time to research into the history of the F-16XL and providing useful information on it.    But there’s more
    An interesting rebuttal, ten years after the DRF, written by Harry Hillaker in response to an article in Aerotech News and Review which perhaps gives a passionate and better insight into how farcical some of these things can be:   As the recognized “Father of the F-16,” and Chief Project Engineer during the concept formulation and preliminary design phases of the F-16XL and Vice President and Deputy Program Director during the prototype phase, the article was of considerable interest to me. The disappointment was that only one side of the issue was presented, a highly biased, self-interest input that does not adequately, nor accurately, present the real story of the selection of the F-15E.
    First, it should be understood that we (General Dynamics) did not initiate the F-16XL as a competitor to the F-15E, then identified as the F-15 Strike Eagle. We stated as unequivocally as possible to the Air Force, that the Dual-Role mission should be given to the F-15: that the F-15 should complement the F-16 in ground strike missions in the same manner that the F-16 complements the F-15 in air-air missions. A fundamental tenet of the F-16, from its inception, has been as an air-air complement to the F-15—no radar missile capability, no M=2.0+ capability, no standoff capability: a multi-mission fighter whose primary mission was air-surface with backup air-air capability.
    We proposed the F-16XL as a logical enhancement of its air-to-surface capabilities. The F-16C represented a progressive systems enhancement and the XL would be an airframe enhancement optimized more to its air-surface mission—lower weapons carriage drag and minimum dependence on external fuel tanks.  The statement that “a prototype version of the F-15E decisively beat an F-16 variant called the F-16XL,” is misinformation. I don’t know what was meant by “beat,” it is patently true that McDonnell-Douglas clearly won what was called a “competition.” However, by the Air Force’s own definition, it was, in reality, an evaluation to determine which airplane would be better suited to the dual-role mission. In a formal competition, each party is evaluated against a common set of requirements and conditions. Such was not the case for the dual-role fighter. The F-15 Strike Eagle and the F-16XL were evaluated and flight tested to different sets of conditions and to different test plans—no common basis for evaluation existed. The F-15 had only one clear advantage in the evaluation—a “paper” advantage. The weapon loading for one of the missions used in the evaluation precluded the use of external fuel tanks on the F-16XL; the F-15 could carry that particular weapon loading and still carry external fuel tanks, the F-16XL could not. That one mission was the only place the F-15 had a clear advantage. (It should be noted that a fundamental design feature of the XL was the elimination of external fuel tanks with their attendant restrictions on flight limits and their weight and drag penalty.) Further, the Air Force would not allow us to use the GE F110 engine in our proposal even though the No. 2 XL, the 2-place version, was powered by a F110 engine and provided better performance than the P&W F100 engine. And although you would expect the F-16’s clear advantage to be cost, the Air Force treated the F-15E as a simple modification to a planned production buy and the F-16XL as a totally new buy. Neither airplane used in the flight test evaluation was a “prototype” of a dual-role fighter. The F-15 was closer systems and cockpit-wise than the F-16XL and the F-16XL was closer, much closer, airframe-wise.  The F-16XLs were designed to, and flew, at their maximum design gross weight of 48,000 pounds, whereas the F-15, more than once, blew its tires while taxiing at 73,000 pounds, well below its maximum design gross weight [which was 81,000 pounds], a condition not demonstrated in the flight test program. In a meeting that I attended with General Creech, then TAC CINC [Commander-in-Chief], the general stated that either air¬plane was fully satisfactory. When asked why he and his staff only mentioned the F-15 (never the F-16XL) in any dual-role fighter statement or discussion, he gave a reply that was impossible to refute, “We have to do that because the F-16 has a heart and soul of its own and we have to sell the F-15.” I’ll have to admit that I sat mute upon hearing that statement because there was no possible retort. We had no allusions as to what the outcome of the Dual-role fighter “competition” would be and debated whether to even respond to the request for information. We did submit, knowing full well that it was a lost cause and that to not submit would be an affront to the Air Force who badly needed the appearance of a competition to justify continued procurement of the F-15—they had patently been unable to sell the F-15 Strike Eagle for five years. As is the case with too much in our culture today, the Air Force was more interested in style, in appearances, than in substance.
    Even today, I feel that giving the F-15 a precision air-surface capability was proper and badly needed. What continues to disturb me is that the F-16XL had to be a pawn in that decision and had to be so badly denigrated to justify the decision—a selection that could have been made on its own merits.   And finally 
    The concept of retaining performance with a usable Air to Ground loadout lives on today in the form of the F-35 Lightning II.......which comes with a 43,000 lbs thrust class engine to start with.     General Dynamics F-16XL  (F2275)                         ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sources Page 267 Red Eagles (Davies.S), Osprey publishing 2008 - Matheny flew the MiG-21F-13 against the F-16XL and F-15E concept demonstrators. 
    Elegance in Flight (Piccirillo.AC), 2014 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – Chapter 7: The Dual Role Fighter competition. 
    Code One Magazine, July 1989 (General Dynamics) Vol 4 No 2 -The F-16XL flies again 
    Code One Magazine, July 1991 (General Dynamics) Vol 6 No 2 – Interview with Harry Hillaker 1999 Aviationweek online: http://aviationweek.com/awin/pws-229a-edging-close-500-hours
    Pratt&Whitney's self-funded F100-PW-229A - a re-fanned F100 fighter engine that can produce as much as 37,150 lbst. - is edging close to 500 total hours of run time
    1998 General Electric online: http://www.geaviation.com/press/military/military_19980907.html
    Designated the F110-GE-129 EFE (Enhanced Fighter Engine), the engine will be qualified at 34,000 pounds of thrust and offered initially at a thrust rating of 32,000 pounds, with demonstrated growth capability to 36,000 pounds.
     

    Hellcats Over the Pacific Retrospective
    CowboyTodd41
    By CowboyTodd41,
      Hellcats box art (from GiantBomb)   Have you ever had the bug to play an old sim? Say, European Air War or Jane's Longbow. What about Hellcats Over the Pacific, or A-10! Attack? Wait… you may be saying, I've never even heard of these sims! I understand if you haven't, as these sims were released only for MacOS, an operating system most hardcore sim pilots have never even considered. In the 1990's, however, there was a very large, and rather unique simulation community built around the Macintosh. While many PC sims such as A-10 Tank Killer and Armored Fist were only starting to scratch the surface of "True 3D", with voxel graphics rendering low resolution textures, Mac developers knew they would have to take some risks to achieve the greatness that was already on full display on the DOS/Windows shelves of CompUSA and ElekTek. Their solution? A typical Mac developer response. They would sacrifice the then high resolution, "photo-realistic" textures for flat shaded polygons to create fully realized 3D worlds and models, including real-time shadows and highly accurate physics. From Wikipedia: "Hellcats was a major release for the Mac platform, one of the first 3D games to be able to drive a 640 x 480 x 8-bit display at reasonable frame rates in an era when the PC clone's VGA at 320 x 240 x 4-bit was the standard." Having only had my parent's Mac to play on, and being crazy about flying (thanks to them no less!) I dove into this world full bore. My first experience in this new world of flight was Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0, a fantastic sim I taught myself how to play at the young age of five, mostly by trial and error. Soaring above the Chicago skyline in my Cessna 182RG was truly amazing for my young self, but something was lacking. That something was obviously guns. By 1991, I was six years old. With the combination of ever increasing hours of time spent in FS4 and the excitement of reading about the air to air victories from the just ended Gulf War, I was ready. During a trip to the store I saw the game I wanted, and I begged my parents to get it for me. Amazingly enough, they actually relented. Soon, I knew, I would be soaring over tropical locales and splashing Zeroes! Hellcats Over The Pacific was released in 1991 by Graphsim Entertainment, who would go on to release the excellent Hornet series a few years later, which will be the subject of a future write-up. Developed by Parsoft Interactive and coded by Eric Parker, it would become maybe the most popular sim ever released on the Macintosh. Sporting bright graphics, excellent physics and flight models, and rudimentary carrier ops it was, much like its namesake the F6F Hellcat, truly a beast to be reckoned with that outclassed and outdated all opponents. Bagging a Zero at the merge. You can see the rudimentary "radar" here (Photo courtesy of mobygames.com) Taking place on a large map of the Solomon Islands, it focused on the Battle of Guadalcanal and related engagements in "The Slot". The missions themselves were rather basic, with accordingly basic mission names. "Bomb Base" for instance had you bombing a Japanese held airfield, which would eventually become Henderson. "Scramble!" is pretty self-explanatory, take off, shoot down the G4M Betty while mixing it up with a pair of escorting Zeroes. Rarely were there more than just a few aircraft in any given scenario. Typically no more than four or five, including your aircraft, most likely to keep memory usage down.  Only two missions ever had you flying with allied aircraft, the first an escort mission with a B-17 called, you guessed it, "Flying Fortress". And the final mission of the game, "The Duel", paired you up with ultimate Hellcat ace Cpt. David McCampbell (34 victories, including 9 in one sortie, and the Medal of Honor).  Number two behind McCampbell (Photo courtesy of mobygames.com)   A particularly grueling trial came in the form of the mission "Flat Top" where you needed to bomb and sink an opposing Japanese carrier. One bomb usually wouldn't do it, and it was hard to get both on target with the massive AAA fire from the surrounding task force. Sometimes this meant multiple sorties in a single mission, returning to trap on the carrier over and over till you finished. Since many flight sims don't include an in-mission re-arming mechanic, this made this fairly unique, especially considering the fact that in many missions you would be returning to the carrier, and not a nice long stretch of concrete. Trapping once is tough enough, but doing it multiple times per mission seriously heightened the challenge! Another tricky mission was "Divine Wind" where you needed to defend your carrier against kamikaze attacks. As the enemy aircraft spawned at a regular interval there was usually no time to return to base and rearm, necessitating careful ammunition and fuel management. With the carrier sinking, the mission is effectively over. (Photo courtesy of mobygames.com) But like all things, it was not without its problems. Chief among them was the seriously lacking draw distance, a common issue amongst many games in the nineties. It is not typically an issue in say, an RTS or corridor FPS shooter, but in flight sims, the farther you can push the draw distance, the better off you are, and the more immersive it becomes. Unfortunately, the distance in Hellcats was short even for the time, making strafing runs on enemy airfields with parked aircraft and long distance intercept missions harder than they probably needed to be. The work around was a sort of radar, in the center of the instrument panel. This radar gave a 360 view around the aircraft out to a few miles, with other aircraft represented as white dots. The enemy AI was also quite lacking. Most engagements typically quickly devolved into a tight turning fight that the Hellcat could easily win by use of the aircraft's flaps to gain a significant turning advantage over the opposing Zero. This was a feature the Hellcat did not have, but that ironically, many Japanese fighters did. The hit detection was spotty at close ranges, causing many bullets to simply pass through the opposing aircraft and simply drain away your ammo. At longer ranges accuracy was better, but many times the enemy would simply smoke then ditch, requiring close in strafing runs near the ocean's surface to get credit for the kill. I can still remember my first kill in any combat sim ever, a snapshot with a deflection angle of nearly 90 degrees. I turned sharply to the right to chase and was rewarded with a swiftly descending, and heavily smoking Zero. It's an image forever burned into my mind, and I was hooked. For better or for worse, I had begun a lifetime obsessed with the skill curve of the Combat Sim. It was a fun jaunt into the past writing this article. I even remembered most of the key bindings! If you're ever looking into the retro-sim scene yourself, don't count out the Macintosh platform. There are several other great sims from this era for the mac, a few of which will be the subjects of future articles. If anyone would like to know how to get into the world of emulating Mac or DOS games for a similar trip down memory lane, PM me. I'll get back to you as soon as I can! Thanks for reading, good luck, and good hunting.  

    Il2 DD Update Dev Blog 188 (Il2 4K Texture)
    76.IAP-Blackbird
    By 76.IAP-Blackbird,
    Hello everybody,   Today we have a small surprise for you. But we aren't its authors: it was made by an enthusiast from the Netherlands, Neeraj =BlackHellHound1= Bindraban. Neeraj turned out to be the biggest enthusiast among the Soviet WWII aircraft skin artists since he was the first to finish the entire path of re-texturing an aircraft in 4K. Not only he remade the skins in 4K, he also made many corrections to the base textures of the IL-2 mod. 1943. He started his work as early as June 2017 and finished it only now, since it was a lot of work to redraw all this in 4K to achieve the new level of detail:   - All panel lines, hatches, rivets, etc. in 4K detail  - Dirt and wear layer - Texture alpha channel that governs matte effect, reflections and glint - Bump texture that visualizes small surface details - Bump texture alpha channel that governs the damage visualization - Damage texture that shows bullet holes, raptures and other visible surface damage - 15 existing and new paint schemes   Here are some screenshots showing the new look from the IL-2 mod. 1943 cockpit:       ... new damage look:     ... and new skins that you'll get together with a ton of other improvements and additions in the update 3.001:                     Neeraj became a trailblazer in converting the entire set of aircraft textures and skins to 4K resolution and encountered difficulties all the pioneers face. He managed to overcome all these difficulties and hopefully other enthusiasts will follow, helping to take the visual clarity of various aircraft to the new level.   You can discuss the news in this thread

Portal by DevFuse · Based on IP.Board Portal by IPS


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