F-16 Pilots Explain how the Viper Dogfights and Wins Against Dissimilar Aircraft


By Dario Leone
Mar 24 2017
Share this article

Retiring the F-15C/D Eagles would maximize the use of the USAF limited resources and minimize the kind of air assets the branch would use to perform its mission

As reported by AirforceTimes, lawmakers at a House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing on Mar. 22, 2017 were told by Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard (ANG), about plans to retire its 236 F-15C/Ds to save costs.

He added that the service plans to replace those retired aircraft with upgraded F-16s.

Maj. Gen. Scott West, the Air Force’s director of current operations and deputy chief of staff for operations, explained that retiring the Light Gray (as the F-15C/D fighter is dubbed by its aircrews) Eagles would maximize the use of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) limited resources and minimize the kind of air assets the branch would use to perform its mission.

Nothing has been said about a possible retirement of the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bombers.

Currently the proposal plan to retire the aircraft calls for the F-15s phase out in 2020.

However replacing the F-15C/Ds with some upgraded F-16s could not be a wise decision.

The F-15C/D Eagle in fact is an all-weather, tactical fighter specifically designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. To perform this mission the aircraft can carry a variety of air-to-air weapons: four AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) on its lower fuselage corners, four AIM-9L/M/X Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, and an internal 20mm Gatling gun in the right wing root.

The F-16 instead is born in response to Light Weight Fighter (LWF) program to meet the Air Force requirement for a cheap, nimble fighter to flank the F-15 in the air to air role. The Viper (as the F-16 is affectionately called by its pilots) has evolved in a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. However the aircraft doesn’t have the combat radius nor the “loadout capacity” of the F-15 in the air to air role.

In fact later in the hearing, Rep. Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot, questioned the move as the F-16 does not have the same air-to-air capabilities as the F-15.

Moreover, since USAF is already facing a pilot shortage, she expressed her concern about what such a shift would do to aircraft readiness.

“We’re already in a readiness crisis,” McSally pointed out. “If you’re now retraining everybody to another aircraft, in the midst of a crisis, that does have a bit of a short-term dip in readiness as well. With us being down to 55 fighter squadrons, we’ve just got to be careful on how that transition would happen, should this decision come to fruition.”

But Rice doesn’t seem too concerned about the potential negative effect that replacing the F-15 Eagle with the F-16 would have on air superiority.

“There’s a risk in changing any of our force structure decisions,” Rice said. But, he added, “there are capabilities we can add and provide on the F-16 that will [fill] a gap as we go into the future. Overall, our readiness and our protection of the U.S. will change, but I think overall, we will be OK.”

Photo credit: Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald and MSGT Marvin Krause / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Share this article

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.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices