huh . . . so they're finally running out of F-4s and they have to switch to grounded -16s.
Biggest thing new about this is the airframe. There's a lot of F-4's at the bottom of the Gulf that got most of the way there using the same trick (there was usually a small explosive device invovled in the last few moments of the trip). Probably an upgrade in the radios and what it'll control, but I doubt by much. just a prettier, more nimble target . . .
No, Dan, it's not a new idea, but what I don't like is shooting down an icon like the -16. I know the F-4 had it's place, too, but the lines of the F-16 are what I grew up with and it makes me sad to learn they are now going to be just another target out there. I'd rather see them stay in the boneyard...
I agree on they should die in the air, I just don't like them as sitting ducks. As drones, they aren't firing back, which is what the Falcons did best. I guess it's still a warriors death, in the end...
Weren't we about to give 10 F-16s to Egypt? It's still a viable high performance fighter, especially for smaller countries with limited resources. They just caught North Korea shipping Migs to Cuba for overhaul.
There are plenty of other aircraft in the bone yards that would make great target drones.
I've been saying for years that the age of manned fighters is over. A drone/UAV can pull 15 Gs and turn inside of anything carrying protoplasm. We just need software smart enough to do it.
Not to say that they're outfitting block 1s for UAV or we're giving block 60 equivilents to Egypt (dunno what they might be getting), but if it's in mothballs, it's an older airframe and all the really nice stuff has been pulled out of it ages ago.
The F-4 was a flying brick, but it was a tremendous aircraft. I have a great uncle that was a test pilot for the navy, he performed the first successful power-off landing of an F-4H-1, and possibly the only successful power-off landing of an F4.... (See item 5 on the second page of the link).
It is a real shame that they use these aircraft as target drones. However, we have to keep in mind that not everything can last forever. While it is disheartening to see them destroyed, I can only hope that there is something useful that comes from them being destroyed. On the flip side, keeping them in the air isn't practical either. Age and use take their toll on the airframes, avionics and control systems degrade and fail. The cost to keep these old birds in the air is very prohibitive. At best, all but a few are only good for static display.
Maintenance issues led to the phasing out of the F-14. It took about 10 times the maintenance hours per flight hour for them than it did on the F/A-18. (My SIL is a F/A-18 mechanic in the Navy.)
Still, the F-16 was conceived as a cheap, easy to maintain high performance fighter. While we may not want to use the older models as first line fighters, it's hard to believe that their only value is as targets. Look at the pictures of the bone yards,and notice the numbers of T-33s, etc.
BUT if the DOD is looking to send these into high risk combat situations.....