Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mig 29 vs F16 in a Dogfight

There is a surprising amount of parity between the aircraft. They both have their pros and cons and, aside from the MiG-29 being a great deal sexier than the F-16, it is certainly interesting to compare the two.
While the F-16 inarguably has better electronics, the MiG-29 has frequently bested the Viper in exercises. Unfortunately the MiG-29 has little combat exposure, and what little it does have is not positive. Whether this can be contributed to superior opponents, inferior pilots, inferior electronics, is debatable.

Mig 29 was actually designed to be a frontline jet, able to operate from unpaved runways and with limited maintenance, on the other hand it suffers from short range.
the mig-29 was designed to replace the MiG-21, MiG-23 and Su-15..

the new variants of the mig-29 such as MiG-29M2, MiG-29SMT and MiG-29UTB, incorporate a number of design changes. These include updated avionics, Western-style cockpit equipment, new, powerful radars and, most importantly, enlarged fuel capacity giving the aircraft considerably extended range
Speaking of air-ground armament, the F16 is generally more suuited for attacking the ground targets with guided weapons. most of the non-Soviet units did not use the guided AG ammunition, such as anti radiolocation missiles, or antishipping missiles like Kh 35 etc.MiG 29 has never been flown in actual combat by equally trained personell so far, so any comparisons about how many kills vs kills do not say anything. Let alone the numbers deployed through operations Desert storm or during the NATO offensive against Serbia.

Huge power, usable, light-weight design with a ton of mulit-role capability. It is also relatively inexpensive. This fighter can fight it's way in, drop death all over the enemy, and fight it's way out, day or night. It's fast and can sustain some of the highest G loading in the inventory if necessary. It's most noticeable departure from the Hornet's capabilities is in its lower high-AOA performance, but it more than makes up for it in power. A single engine, however, is always seen as a reliability problem. The maneuverability and power of this jet really gives no ground for a MiG-29 to use in a fight. Also, it's a combat-tested design on the winning side of every battle it has fought. The Dos Gringos guys called it that everyone wishes they could fly the Viper at some point.

It is a maneuverable and 4th generation fighter that is comparable on every level with the American fighters but falls short in weapons, flight controls, avionics, and range. It's power-to-weight ration is awesome and it can sustain G with the F-16. Yet, the type is actually floundering in the Russian fighter market while the bulk of funding and major purchases go to Sukoi. The only items worth mentioning as advantages are inclusion of the IRST and helmet mounted sight. However, the helmet sight is primitive, defeat-able, and the more-advanced US Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System/AIM-9X is finding its way to more and more deployed Viper and Hornet units in the USAF/USN fleet which counter the threat. It is a great jet to operate from unimproved surfaces and is relatively inexpensive. In comparison with western fighters, the aircraft is poorly manufactured, the engines are somewhat unreliable and have short life spans, the fuel capacity/fuel burn is such a huge disadvantage that the jet can barely reach the fight let alone participate, the cockpit and navigation systems are crude and clunky, the engines are dirty and visible for miles, and the air-to-ground capabilities are so miniscule and primitive as to not even be considerable as an effective multi-role fighter. The MiG-29 is basically a MiG-21 on steroids when it comes to air-to-ground and the '29 pilot had best be attacking tents lest he go up against anything more substantial or defensive. UAVs are also a good target for the MiG-29. It might have looked overwhelming when it first showed up, but like every Russian fighter program, time (without adapting) has degraded it so much that it probably can't keep up much longer.

the Mockup dogfights of these two are reffered to be roughly equal or with a slight advantage of miG29 at short ranges / helmet mounted sights, envelope etc../
When the Germans inherited some MiG 29s with East Germany they found they were surprisingly effective, until they found out how fast they got through spare parts. But when both are working? I'd expect the lower wing loading and higher power to weight ratio of the MiG 29 would give it an advantage in a close in fight. Beyond visual range the F16 weapons and electronics are better but the MiG 29 carries more, so in the right hands it would probably have the advantage.

Fulcrum's pilot aircraft/weapons interface leaves lots to be desired. requires lots of time "head down" operating switches.
engines smoke waay too much. I was appalled the first time I saw them go.
range is horrible, typical of Russian engines.
Its great to watch what the mig-29 can do but its mainly eye candy. the performance of the f-16 is more than enough to take on other 4th gen fighters.

i read from Jane's than the mig-29 is lots more maintenance intensive than f-16s as well. engines are harder to get to, and many parts need frequent inspection and replacing. 29's engines require, if I remember correctly 150% more work per flight hour than the f-15 or something.

F-16: Mach 2, service ceiling: 50,000+ feet
MIG 29: Mach 2.3, service ceiling: 59,000+ feet


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