Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm calling BS on that Aviationist.

used without permission but he has this nasty ass watermark all over it so....
The Aviationist has an article up saying that the F-16's used in the Wild Weasel role will get the F-35 paint treatment.

I'm calling bullshit on that. Go to his site to read the whole thing but a tidbit.
All the U.S. “Wild Weasel” F-16s are being given a new paint job similar to the one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
It is called “Have Glass 5th generation” as it represents the evolution of the standard Have Glass program that saw all the F-16s receiving a two-tone grey color scheme made with a special radar-absorbing paint capable to reduce the aircraft Radar Cross Section: in fact, “Vipers” are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft.
For the moment, the JSF-like paint job will be applied to the F-16CM (formerly CJ) Block 50 Fighting Falcon aircraft that can carry a  variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance, including  HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles) and precision-guided munitions.
I went to site to ask him where he sourced the story from and he said they wished to remain anonymous.  Ok. Cool, but I'm still saying bullshit.

First the F-16 is about the most unstealthy airplane flying.  To get from here to there you have to hang gas off its wings.  Want a stealthier airplane?  Try conformal fuel tanks...but paint?  Additionally the maintenance challenge has yet to be determined.  I THINK it'll be less maintenance intensive but you'll still need to put in work.

Last, why would you do it?  Besides the cost, I would think that other priorities would get those dollars.  Extended range weapons, upgraded cockpits and avionics...there are a whole host of things that could be done to make this more cost effective.  But an even better reason is that this is the one area where UAVs will definitely be useful.  The X-47 is primed to take over this role.

Naw.  This paint job story just don't sing.

This was the response on TWITTER...
 well, this means you've never heard about Have Glass. Google it before writing such things.
Hey I get that.  And trust me...I haven't heard of "Have Glass" but that still doesn't make the story any less probable.  The Dew Line just ran a story on F-16 upgrades and they're aviation guys too.  They made no mention of any stealth treatment from the F-35 being applied to the F-16.  Additionally Lockheed Martin would be singing to the rafters about another benefit of the F-35 program being applied to legacy aircraft.  So betwen all that and the money crunch I just can't see it.

Don't get me wrong.  Where I come from you can call bullshit on your best friend and it not cause a fight.  Its just two guys not agreeing on a given bit of info.  I like David.  I'm just calling bullshit on this particular story.


  1. On F-16 dot net they are talking about it like its a done deal; no one is calling BS on it, they're just talking about how to model it and how widely it's deployed. Proof? No, but we've all quoted that site from time to time:

    Conformal tanks have been flying on F-16s for years but my assumption is that you can't retrofit them because they require some different plumbing, so not an option for the USAF, which is avoiding upgraded F-16 purchases like the plague in order to maintain the 'burning platform' that supports their F-35 procurement politics.

    Finally, AFAIK no stealth plane can carry the HARM internally, so nothing is going to be particularly stealthy in this role; you do what you can.

  2. i followed your links...followed the links that another guy sent and all i see is a bunch of guys mixing issues. "the aviationist" is stating that the F-16 is getting the F=35's i said. thats news. but if i actually wanted to be cynical and if i wanted to throw the aviationist under the bus what i would say is that he took a photo with a f-16 that had a darker paint color to it which looks like that which goes on the f-35 and came up with the idea that its getting the f-35's paint treatment. of course that would be worse than saying that the story is bullshit, that owuld be syaing that he pulled the story out of his ass.

    i didn't do that but his reaction is starting to make me wonder.

  3. I think you both may be right, and here is why.

    What the F-16CM's might be getting is the actual paint used on the F-35. That paint might also have some affect on radar reflective too.

    That being said, the majority of the F-35's RAM is actually part of the composite structure (called fiber mat) and cannot be simply painted on the F-16.

  4. that sounds about right but this guy is trpping so my radar is up on this one. trust me i'm googling my ass off to find out what the real deal is with this.

  5. Have Glass is evidently a stealth project that makes multiple changes. The paint seems logical but still haven't found something definitive about that.

    Reference to Have Glass II for Taiwan F-16 upgrades that specifically mentions canopy changes and "other treatments" here:

    Reference to Have Glass project doing signature reduction on the radar installation for the F-16 way back in 2009 (Have Glass II again) here:

    BTW: Aviationist said that only "wild weasels" were getting the paint. DEW Line was, I believe, talking about a bulk upgrade of regular squadron F-16s. Ergo I don't think DEW Line not talking about this is a contradiction with the Aviationist article.

    Silent F-16 anyone?

  6. i could see a silent F-16 if someone had low observable pylon mounts and "bomb bags" but without them its gonna be hard to fix the F-16...the intake leads directly to the blades....the plane carrys eything externally....its short legged already....i just don't see it.

    much better to just wait for the X-47 and not waste money on the dream that is a stealth F-16

  7. It goes back to what Sweetman said: the point is not a 'silent F-16' in the sense that it avoids detection like the F-117, F-35, X-47, it's about avoiding being hit.

    If you put just HARMs into the mix stealth is out the window anyway, never mind active jamming, and given that, the issue is to avoid being hit rather than to avoid being detected. For this lowering the F-16s signature is going to increase the effectiveness of jamming, towed decoys etc. etc.

  8. I have two thoughts on this, given the power of today's radar, I would assume it's going to take a lot more than paint to make an F-16 remotely stealthy. For example during the F-117 development they discovered the pilots helmet to be a huge source of return; that's why the windows on the Nighthawk are gold by the way.

    Second, as I believe Solomon already pointed out, as soon as you strap one non-stealthy missile to the wings all that RAM might as well still be back at the base. Hence the F-22 carries its missiles internally.

    Finally, I'd like to pose a new question. If you're the US Air Force wouldn't one of the first squadrons you upgrade to the F-35 be the Wild Weasels? I mean, who is the most likely to need stealth anyway? The guy flying straight toward the radar!! Before immediately calling bullshit on me consider that the current US Air Force in Air-to-Air combat, even without F-35s, is still light years ahead of our current foes (eg Iran and they're ancient unmaintained F-14As).

  9. F--35's are not scheduled to get AARGM till Blk6 (2020-2022 timeframe).

    Besides, the WildWeasel role has always been done by older aircraft:

    F-100/105 in the age of the F-4
    F-4 in the age of F-16/15
    F-16 in the age of F-22/35

  10. The WildWeasel/IronHand role done by a single model of plane will disaper in the future...all planes(F-22,F-35 and 4th genaration)will be abble to perform that role whitout any special training/equipement


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