Now once again here we are where we have to chose between some more new variants of the 4Gs. After cancelling MMRCA tender because of being fucked up by Dassault's price changes. The new tender floated to locally manufacture single engine fighter aircraft have fighters for it. The tender has attracted two wonderful aircrafts throwing a whole new competition for Indians. And of course a whole new debate topic for Aviation geeks. The F 16 Block 70 which is dubbed to be the most advanced variant of F 16 and The Saab Gripen NG/ E.
Here we are bringing to you the full spectrum of EW capabilities, Weapons and Other warfare capabilities plus potential weaknesses. So that we can make a proper choice as to which one could be better.
Number 1 :- Block 70 F-16
This came up as a Surprise as nobody thought Lockheed Martin would make any further advancement to the system after making Block 60 for the Arabs. The F 16 IN Super Viper a contender in MMRCA competition is considered to be quite close to Block 70. But still Block 70 packs much masala in it to be an attractive choice for the EW dominated battlefield of the future and today. The strategic advantage as what being talked in defence circles is that Last Production line of F 16 will be shifted in India.
In an interview Lockheed Officers Randall L Howard and Abhay Paranjpe told that Lockheed Martin isn't just installing a production line to satisfy IAF but wants to export the new variant globally from here. While taking about Stealth Capabilities they said that Originally the F 16 airframe wasnt designed to be stealth but for the sake of survivability the Block 70 has many follow on features. It is still unclear that If F 16 spare parts be made in India and it be exported to PAF or not.
Radar and Sensor Suite :~
It is equipped with AN/ APG 83 AESA radar. Described as Agile beam it can perform Air to Air and Air to Ground Search and Track simultaneously. The noise reduction features of this one has made its range improved to almost 70 miles almost 84 km for engagement. The image quality in air to ground mode is described as imagery-class. Just the same that is acquired from satellites. They can be acquired from long distances for air to ground targets and using its synthetic aperture radar mode pilots can locate and recognise the ground targets. Prioritise them and engage.
The new MMC modules of it's computers are said to be 30 % faster than previous ones. Which allows sensor data fusion from the EW sensors for better situational awareness , here notably the data transfer network is quite faster than previous systems like Link 16. It is also equipped with Off boresight aiming sensor which allows pilot to sense and target something out of his field of view.
It also features a pilot friendly automatic ground collision avoidance system. Which continuously tracks pilot's awareness with respect to decreasing altitude. It makes pilot aware and turns up the aircraft automatically if it goes too close to ground. Because while manoeuvring the aircraft to follow an enemy aircraft. The enemy may try to run wmaway by staying low and outmatching F 16 whike taking ups and downs. The F 16 may then be hitting a Mountain or be directed towards the ground then this system becomes 'Tactically Important'.
Reasons for India to select F16
1 Single Supply Chain. More availability of parts. Faster Availability in wartime.
2 Battle Proven platform and sold to many NATO countries and various countries worldwide. So India can sell F 16 spare parts.
3 One of the most advanced Variant of F 16. With almost Medium Weight Category like capabilties.
4 Strategic advantage of grounding F 16s of Pakistan Air Force.
Reasons for not selecting F 16
1 High Operating and Life cycle costs as compared to Gripen.
2 Less Sensor packed than Gripen.
3 Adversary Air Forces know F 16 better so they can formulate Strategies to counter it.
4 No sepecific advantage to Other Indian Indegeneous products like LCA.
Here are some specification of Block 70.
Crew :~ 1 Pilot.
Engine :~ Pratt and Whitney F 119 Turbofan engine. ( The same as that on F 22)
Service Ceiling :~ 50000 ft.
Thrust :~ 39000 LBS.
Other Systems :~
Digital fiber optic, integrated flight control system, Full glass, full color cockpit, Full color, Helmet Mounted Sight, DVI(Direct Voice Input) cockpit input system.
Stealthy engine inlet, reduced frontal RCS, Strengthened airframe with titanium in key areas for greater mechanical strength in 9+ gs to pull greater weights.
Full super cruise capability, push for Mach 1.8 completely owing to the Swiss made external pylons designed for lower drag for F 18s.
Gun : M61 Vulcan.
2 × AIM-7 Sparrow
6 × AIM-9 Sidewinder
6 × AIM-120 AMRAAM
6 × IRIS-T
6 × Python-4
6 × AGM-65 Maverick
4 × AGM-88 HARM
AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
2 × AGM-84 Harpoon
4 × AGM-119 Penguin
May include 6X MBDA Meteor.
8 × CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
8 × CBU-89 Gator mine
8 × CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
4 × Mark 84 general-purpose bombs
8 × Mark 83 GP bombs
12 × Mark 82 GP bombs
8 × GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)
4 × GBU-10 Paveway II
6 × GBU-12 Paveway II
4 × GBU-24 Paveway III
4 × GBU-27 Paveway III
4 × Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) series
4 × AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD)
Seeing the requirement of IAF , the track record of F 16. This could be a better choice. Many people feel that Usage of F 119 engine could be a deal breaker but maintenance of that is quite expensive. It is unconfirmed yet. Even the USAF finds it hectic to maintain it. The F 16 has been used in wargames all around the world and therefore it wouldn't be a formidable challenge for IAF's enemies to develop counter strategies. The 16000m service cieling allows it to fly over himalayas comfortably.
Now let's see what the Swedes have got in their giftpack.