The US Navy F-14 pilot who developed the DACT technique that made gun kills on F-16Ns possible from the much larger Tomcat

The US Navy F-14 pilot who developed the DACT technique that made gun kills on lethal 9G capable F-16Ns possible from the much larger Tomcat

By Dario Leone
Mar 30 2024
Sponsored by: Mortons Books
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The F-16N Viper

The F-16N Viper, a version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon operated by the US Air Force, was procured by the US Navy for use as an adversary aircraft in air combat training, simulating the capabilities of fourth-generation Soviet fighters.

Against the F-14, the smaller, more maneuverable F-16N was a very challenging foe.

The Story of how US Navy F-14 Tomcat crews learned to score simulated Gun Kills against the lethal 9G capable F-16N (Captured in a Beautiful Artwork)

Designed by aviation artist Mads Bangsø in collaboration with former F-14 Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) David Parsons, the cool artwork in this post is featured in their book Half Century, Baby! and is realized by our friends at Aircraftprofileprints.com.

The DACT technique that made gun kills on F-16Ns possible from the much larger F-14

As the artwork (named Fight’s On) shows the theme of the print is dogfight: specifically, in a close air-to-air combat scenario, who will win? The F-14 Tomcat or the F-16N Viper (possibly the finest adversary fighter ever flown by the US Navy)? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The following is the story behind the artwork is that of CDR Keith “Okie” Nance who developed a Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) technique which made gun kills on F-16Ns possible from the much larger F-14.

The Story of how US Navy F-14 Tomcat crews learned to score simulated Gun Kills against the lethal 9G capable F-16N (Captured in a Beautiful Artwork)

‘The beautiful weather and pristine sea surrounding Naval Air Station Key West has been ideal for those seeking the sun and for DACT. By 1989, the penultimate Adversary Aircraft was the F-16N “Viper” which had an amazing thrust-to-weight ratio and ability to execute 9G turns. That made for a formidable adversary for Tomcat Aircrews as they learned out to fight their aircraft during the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) Tactics Phase typically conducted out of Key West to take advantage of the weather.

‘Experienced Tomcat pilots found that even the F-16N was not that invincible if the Tomcat was flown to its advantage and stayed out of the situations in which the F-16N could prevail. One of the masters of this type encounter was CDR Keith “Okie” Nance who was not intimidated by the F-16N and routinely took it on in the so-called knife fight in a phone booth and prevailing.

The US Navy F-14 pilot who developed the DACT technique that made gun kills on F-16Ns possible from the much larger Tomcat
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. Fight’s On – F-14 Tomcat VF-101 Grim Reapers

The spirit of attack

‘In this depicted encounter, “Okie” has merged in a VF-101 F-14A+ with a VF-43 F-16N and entered a one circle fight in which there can only be one victor. “Okie” has used the Tomcat’s ability to pitch and maintain energy as the F-16N is bleeding energy and will soon be at a disadvantage as the Tomcat uses the altitude advantage to pull down in behind the F-16N for a guns solution with its M61 Vulcan Cannon.

‘Although experienced Tomcat pilots like “Okie” were able to take on nimble adversaries like a F-16N or A-4F Skyhawk known as the “Super Fox”, the tactics they used were imparted to the Replacement Aircrews under instruction at VF-101 so they could also perform similar feats.

The US Navy F-14 pilot who developed the DACT technique that made gun kills on F-16Ns possible from the much larger Tomcat
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. Fight’s On – F-14 Tomcat VF-101 Grim Reapers – Aluminum Print

‘LTGEN Adolf Galland, the famed WWII German Ace, once said “Only in the spirit of attack, born in a brave heart, will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.” This was certainly true over the skies of Key West.’

Half Century, Baby! is published by Mortons Books and is available to order here and here.

F-14 model
This Model is Available from AirModels! CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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