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Old Viper Tester

F-16 Close Air Support Evaluation, 1988

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Vipers of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, Tactical Fighter Weapons Center out of Nellis AFB, conducted an evaluation of the F-16's suitability in the close air support mission (as a potential replacement for the A-10?). They were accompanied in the exercise by an F-16B, 75-0752, technical development airframe with sensor modifications operated by General Dynamics. The 422nd Vipers were: 83-1128, 83-1129, 83-1130, 83-1131, 83-1144, and 84-0267. USAF images.

 

83-1128

USAF 02

 

USAF 10cr

 

USAF 01

 

83-1129

83-1129 WA 88-5017cr

 

83-1131

83-1131 422tes WA 19880800 88-5018cr

 

USAF 07cr

 

83-1144. I don't think the two-seater in the background is '752 - there's no FLIR ball atop the nose, but I haven't found a record of a USAF B/D participating in the CAS Eval.

USAF 09cr

 

Forward-Looking infra-Red/laser spot tracker (FLIR/LST) pod on F-16Cs

USAF 03

 

USAF 5

 

Forward-Looking infra-Red (FLIR) sensor on F-16B 75-0752. The continuation of the aft fairing is on the canopy frame.

USAF 06

 

GPU-5 (GEPOD-30) cannon pod on 83-1144.

USAF 08

 

AGM-65 on LAU-117/A launcher

USAF 04

 

Apologies if I've already posted these. I recently found two additional slides and couldn't find the original post (if it existed).

 

Thanks for looking,

Sven

 

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Painted like A-10s, but as beautiful as they are, they're no Hogs.... :D 

 

Great set of pics, Sven :thumbsup: Thanks

 

Ciao

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I loved this European scheme

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

83-1144. I don't think the two-seater in the background is '752 - there's no FLIR ball atop the nose, but I haven't found a record of a USAF B/D participating in the CAS Eval.

 

USAF 09cr

 

Apologies if I've already posted these. I recently found two additional slides and couldn't find the original post (if it existed).

 

There are some differences between the two schemes but could the other two seater be F-16B 78-0096 ?

 

spacer.png

 

No, you haven't posted these before, it makes a change to see and F-16 which isn't a shade of grey so thanks for sharing them

Edited by Richard E

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As soon as I saw the title, I was hoping these would be in the Euro 1 scheme, so cool. Thanks for sharing Sven.

It's interesting that paint scheme includes a two tone radome, I never noticed that before.

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4 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

Forward-Looking infra-Red (FLIR) sensor on F-16B 75-0752. The continuation of the aft fairing is on the canopy frame.

USAF 06

WOW! The first time I see!

 

FLIR and IRST 

are these the same systems or different?

 

Why FLIR don't used on F-16 and F-15?

 

B.R. 

Serge

 

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Excellent history lesson and photos Sven

 

Andy

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Really interesting photos!  Thanks for posting Sven

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13 hours ago, Richard E said:

There are some differences between the two schemes but could the other two seater be F-16B 78-0096 ?

 

spacer.png

 

No, you haven't posted these before, it makes a change to see and F-16 which isn't a shade of grey so thanks for sharing them

Esci did an F-16B in the lizard scheme - it was coded HL 78-096. So possible corroboration. 

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36 minutes ago, iainpeden said:

Esci did an F-16B in the lizard scheme - it was coded HL 78-096. So possible corroboration. 

It's also one of the options on Caracal's F-16 CAS Vipers decal sheet together with 75-0752 and some of the F-16Cs which Sven has included photographs of in his post

 

spacer.png

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Aardvark said:

FLIR and IRST 

are these the same systems or different?

 

Why FLIR don't used on F-16 and F-15?

Serge,

 

FLIR is a staring array that produces an image. An IRST detects thermal differences and shows the hot spot on a display, either directly or after being processed by a computer, showing azimuth and elevation from the sensor boresight. Neither sensor gives distance to the target.

 

As for the F-15 and F-16, both have been given the IRST and FLIR capability. The F-16C/D Block 40 and F-15E via the LANTIRN system targeting pod. The F-15C and F-16s are now integrated with the Litening and/or Legion pods for IR capability.

 

Sven

Edited by Old Viper Tester
darn auto-correct!

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Yes! I love seeing these and have always wanted to put together something in 1/48 for them. I think I've had that Caracal sheet since it first came out. Great photos Sven, especially the little details. I don't think I've ever come across specifics of those airframes like that before. 

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15 hours ago, Richard E said:

There are some differences between the two schemes but could the other two seater be F-16B 78-0096 ?

F-16B 78-0096 should have either been transferred to a foreign Air Force, made a ground training airframe or sent to AMARG between 2005 and 2010, when most of the pre-block 30 airframes were removed from USAF flying units, so it wouldn't have been at this later evaluation.

 

78-0096 and a few A models - covered in the Caracal sheet - were used in an earlier CAS evaluation (ca. 1980?). I think that eval was run by AFOTEC. The results of that early evaluation found the F-16 wanting due to the lack of sensors (FLIR, IRST, LST) that would compensate for target detection at F-16 operating speeds. All of the Vipers in that evaluation came from the 388TFS at Hill AFB.

 

The Shaw Viper on the Caracal sheet was from yet another evaluation, but I don't know the details on where or when.

 

Sven

 

 

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Sven, 

why i asked this question:

22 minutes ago, Old Viper Tester said:

FLIR is a staring array that produces an image. An IRST detects thermal differences and shows the hot spot on a display, either directly or after being processed by a computer, showing azimuth and elevation from the sensor boresight. Neither sensor gives distance to the target.

because in Russian terminology this is called an "electron-optical locator", how I understand (but maybe I'm wrong) Soviet/Russian "electron-optical locator" contain three system inside:

- laser;

- infra-red;

- TV;

in fact this system  standard radar duplicates when radar don't stability work  from interference ECM.

Therefore, I am somewhat confused in Western terminology... FLIR... IRST....how close this equivalent Soviet/Russian 

"electron-optical locator" name?

 

38 minutes ago, Old Viper Tester said:

As for the F-15 and F-16, both have been given the IRST and FLIR capability. The F-16C/D Block 40 and F-15E via the LANTIRN system targeting pod. The F-15C and F-16s are now integrated with the Litening and/or Legion pods for IR capability.

Yes, I know about Lantirn e.t.c , but it’s pods, I mean why it wasn’t installed permanently like on the MiG-29 or Su-27, etc.?

After all, if a stationary installation was tested on the F-16, why they refused it, because the pylon that is currently occupied by Lantirn, etc.  could one free up for another system or weapon?  Yes, a stationary installation increases weight, but on the other hand, a sub-installation is more susceptible to vibrations and disturbances from the air flow, for which it needs to be made more durable and therefore it must have more weight, in addition, it violates local aerodynamics.

 

Can You explain these points to me?

 

B.R.

Serge

 

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2 hours ago, Aardvark said:

Therefore, I am somewhat confused in Western terminology... FLIR... IRST....how close this equivalent Soviet/Russian 

"electron-optical locator" name?

I'm no expert, but here goes: lasers, infra-red, and television are all electro-optical by definition.

In Western usage, EO typically only refers to visible spectrum sensors. 

Laser sensors go by two names but are similar capability: Laser Marked Target Seeker and Laser Spot Tracker. Both look for, and lock on, a laser spot generated by a target designator.

Infra-red sensors have two distinct capabilities: FLIR and IRST. FLIR systems originally had little or no gimbal movement and were installed looking straight ahead - hence, "Forward Looking". They stare in a direction such that they create an image of the area in the field of view. As I mentioned above, the IRST merely looks for a heat source but is typically more agile than a FLIR sensor.

 

IRST sensors fell out of favor in the US in the mid-1960s. The systems were often unreliable and often needed a very large thermal differential to be useful. When I evaluated the IRST in the F-106 while in Test Pilot School (1981), I had a lot of difficulty locating a Boeing 747 that was essentially right in front of us at about 15-20 miles! Since the IRST wasn't considered to be all that good, it was dropped from the later F-4s and didn't make it into the specifications for the F-15 or F-16. FLIR systems were getting better and began to be used in the US in the late 70s, but even then the system for the A-7E was in a pod almost as big as an external fuel tank. The A-7D did have an LMTS and the A-10 got the Pave Penny. FLIRs got better, and smaller, in the mid-80s as with LANTIRN development.

 

In the mid-80s I was a technical intelligence analyst watching Sukhoi fighters. I'll admit that we were a bit surprised that the IRST was carried by the Su-27 and MiG-29. I didn't think the IRST in the MiG-23 was that good, but maybe that was Western parochialism. Western systems were finally getting a lot better and the IRST made it back into the latter F-14s. There was no place to put them in the F-15 or F-16 without costly internal redesign. With stealth technology making it harder to detect targets, new IRST systems finally became desirable again and the USAF starts playing with the pods: Litening, Sniper, Legion, and variations putting an IRST on the front of external fuel tanks. I assume that the F-22 never got an IRST because the original design came about when the USAF was still not fond of IRSTs and trying to retrofit it would be costly and possibly negate the stealth characteristics.

 

IR systems have their own advantage in being passive, so there's no emission to be detected  by an enemy.

 

This is all off the top of my head, but I hope it helps,

Sven

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Great photos & info there Sven thanks. Like others, I've the Caracal decals & Hasegawa weapon set with the GPU-5 pod. There is a Euro 1 finished F-16 in my future & those photos will be most useful. ;)

Steve.

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Posted (edited)

Probably my only claim to fame in the USAF :D

 

My crew painted those captive 9P's and AMA's using rattlecans. One of the officers from the 422nd wanted us to repaint the TGM-65's the same forest green, but thankfully someone talked him out of it.

Edited by Slater

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Those ships look really good in that paint scheme!

Quite tempting to do one in 1:48th to go alongside the F-20 I did a while back...

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

I'm no expert,

Well, in comparison with You, I am generally at the level of development of the amoeba as an expert ...

17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

When I evaluated the IRST in the F-106 while in Test Pilot School (1981), I had a lot of difficulty locating a Boeing 747 that was essentially right in front of us at about 15-20 miles!

But here You need to clarify exactly what weather conditions You target in the Boeing-747, because when You write about the MiG-23:

17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

I didn't think the IRST in the MiG-23 was that good, but maybe that was Western parochialism.

Need some clarification from Russian resources about IRST in the MiG-23 - TP-23 and upgrade IRST in the MiG-23 - TP-23M:

(many text translate with Google-translate, but this interesting text!)

- about TP-23:

 

"The TP-23 heat locator was used to detect air targets by the infrared radiation of their engines, allowing a covert search of the target day and night.  Unlike the radar, which issued the fighter with radiation, the direction finder used a completely passive principle of operation.  The geofizika developed by NPO was an optical-electronic device that provided an overview of the space and an indication of the location of air targets, followed by taking one of them selected by the pilot for auto tracking.  The principle of its operation was similar to television-sighting systems with a line-frame survey of the space in the IR spectrum.  The search for objects was carried out by a sensitive photodetector made in the form of an elemental mosaic from an alloy of antimony with indium.  To increase the sensitivity of the photodetector, deep cooling with liquid nitrogen was used.  The TP-23 window was made of optical ceramic plates forming a characteristic faceted fairing with an aircraft  tray.  The choice of the “necessary” object corresponding to the aircraft engine in terms of thermal radiation was made by the coordinator using spectral and spatial-frequency signal processing, he also gave target designation to the target coordinates.  Information on the presence and position of heat-emitting targets was displayed on a glass-optical sight. A typical Tu-16 target was detected from the back hemisphere with a distance of at least 30-35 km.  However, TP-23 could be used effectively only under simple weather conditions - dense cloudiness, precipitation fog absorbed thermal radiation, making its source inconspicuous for the device.  In addition to the search for targets, the direction finder made it possible to direct the radar antenna and issue target designation to the R-23T thermal missiles.  It was possible to attack in completely stealth mode without turning on the radar, with aiming according to TP-23. When the heat finder and radar were working together, the best conditions were created to overcome the jamming situation - one of the systems was immune to interference, whether it was radio interference or thermal traps, allowing you to choose the most  suitable for attack mode of operation of the search and aiming system. TP-23 was installed on aircraft  No. 0608 to No. 3508, from item No. 3509 it was replaced by an improved TP-23-1, which differed in the execution of the  and a cooling unit in view  monoblock. IR upgrade  structure being followed on the plane № 3206."

 

- about TP-23M:

"The upgraded TP-23M heat direction finder (“Product 26Sh1”) had a 1.5-fold increased range of detection and auto tracking of air targets, which reached 45 km under targets like a Tu-16 bomber against a clear sky.  TP-23M had higher accuracy characteristics not worse than 20 arc minutes and the speed of angular auto tracking of targets up to 6-8 deg / s, which increased the efficiency of passive location when working on maneuverable targets.  Another advantage was its improved protection from natural interference (sunlight, clouds, the earth's surface), which made it possible, for example, to detect a target like the same Tu-16 in the lower hemisphere at a distance of up to 20 km.  The role of the heat direction finder in the S-23ML system expanded: TP-23M could be used both for viewing space and targeting thermal missiles, and for preparing for an attack using a radar sight, performing a hidden approach to the target with the radar antenna pointing at the object and then turning on Sapphire  "And instant capture of the target.
 During the tests, the capabilities of the TP-23M were revealed, even exceeding the expected ones.  At the meeting with the military, the chief designer of the design bureau, G. A. Sedov, said: “In some cases, and not a few, new heat direction finders detected and captured targets flying 90 km away.  In conditions of poor visibility, the range of the direction finder on the MiG-23ML plane is three times greater than on the MiG-23M plane. "  It was possible to detect afterburners not only from the rear hemisphere, but also when approaching from the front - when meeting with the MiG-25 going towards the afterburner, the detection range reached 75 and even 120 km.  Outwardly, the new heat direction finder was distinguished by a modified fairing with a trihedral toe from plates of optical ceramics.  Since in the usual way the name of the TP-23M heat direction finder was given together with its designation as the product 26Sh1, with someone else's feed it got its wrong name - contamination of two indices in the form of TP-26Sh1.  Despite the absence of such a pattern in nature, the invented cipher was used on a par with the real one, including in the operational documentation — the pilot's instructions and technical descriptions."

 

 

So, as You see  detection distance 15-20 miles

for some conditions were considered an excellent result on MiG-23!

 

17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

In the mid-80s I was a technical intelligence analyst watching Sukhoi fighters. I'll admit that we were a bit surprised that the IRST was carried by the Su-27 and MiG-29.

But did you classify it as IRST or as a complex consisting of laser + TV + IR?

In addition, it is more than likely that the data

Optic Location Station

on the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the United States intelligence 

could be from agent CIA Adolf Tolkachev:

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Tolkachev

 

but it is not known whether they were brought to You in any form.

 

 

B.w. about Sukhoj You are reading this book : "Samoilovich O.S.
 "Near Sukhoj.
 Aircraft Designer Memories""

637233.png

This is the opinion of the leading designer Sukhoi Oleg Samoilovich

 

https://ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Самойлович,_Олег_Сергеевич

 

on what was happening there, including on the American aircraft industry.

 

Yes, book  is not  translate on  English:

 

https://thelib.ru/books/samoylovich_o/ryadom_s_suhim-read.html

 

 but again Google translator.

 

17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

There was no place to put them in the F-15 or F-16 without costly internal redesign.

I assumed such an answer.  Because the weapon system and design of the MiG-29, MiG-31 and Su-27 were originally designed for the use of Optical-Locating stations, that is, a place in the structure was reserved for them, the developers of the weapons system worked out the interaction of these stations with the radar, weapon systems in advance, and this  quite a long complex and time-consuming process. And of course quite expensive!

Therefore, I was somewhat surprised to see Your photo.

 

 

 

17 hours ago, Old Viper Tester said:

This is all off the top of my head, but I hope it helps,

Sven, it's interesting only for history, but this very interesting, because history system weapons it's very unresearched thematic.

 As an example, it is not clear what American radars were delivered to the USSR during the Korean War?  Various sources claim to study the F3D or F-94B downed in Korea but there are no published official reports.

An interesting moment with IRST F-8 and F-4, in all 

logical parameter

they should have been fallen from Vietnam and they should have been studied in the USSR.  But also there are not only any reports, there is not even a mention of this.

Maybe something is known about this in the West?  Maybe someone studying the TP-23 with the MiG-23 said: "Oh, I saw this instrument cluster on the F-8 or F-4!"?

 

 

B.R.

Serge

 

P.S.

My reply very long, therefore, some fragments will still be added to it.

P.P.S.

My posting complete! 

 

Edited by Aardvark

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It's been quite a few years, but I believe they dropped a quantity of Mk 82 high-drags (BSU-49) with FMU-54 inertial tail fuzes and (I think) M904 nose fuzes. Not sure if they fired any live Mavericks or not.

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6 hours ago, Aardvark said:

You need to clarify exactly what weather conditions You target in the Boeing-747,

Clear bright desert air at about 30,000 ft. Probably not the best thermal differential for detecting a relatively cool turbofan. Probably would have done a lot better looking for an SR-71 at operating altitude - even if we would be way below him!

 

6 hours ago, Aardvark said:

But did you classify it as IRST or as a complex consisting of laser + TV + IR?

It was early days in our evaluation of the MiG-29 and Su-27 and we only talked about IRST capability. When I went to Rissala Finland to see the MiG-29, I admit I was surprised at the complex gimbaling and other equipment visible under the sensor ball. Looked a lot more complex than what I remember from the F-102/F-106 IRST.

 

Sven

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Excellent photos again Sven. It is good to see that these aircraft were recorded by yourself, some great details there.

 

Regards

Robert

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A great set of pics again Sven and of a scheme that you don't see that often at all, but I think it really looks good on the F-16.

 

Thanks for sharing them.

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Some great and useful photos there, Sven. Thank you.

 

I always thought the F-16 looked particularly good in European One, and keep promising that one day I'll build one in those colours. One day...

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