My F-16 and MiG 35 sorties at Yelahanka

Vishnu
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My F-16 and MiG 35 sorties at Yelahanka

Postby Vishnu » 18 Feb 2007 17:12

Dear Friends ... I thought long and hard about putting in this post ... since, in a sense, it is similar to what I have written in the past. However, I am extremely tempted to share with you my experiences at Aero India where I flew on the F-16 and the MiG 35 prototype. A week or so prior to that I had flown on the MiG 29UB trainer near Moscow. For an aviation enthusiast .. the last few weeks have been more than a dream come true.

I have posted extensively on the MiG 29UB sortie ... so this is about the F-16 and MiG 35 ride. I also believe I now have enough experiences to compare and contrast the flying characteristics of the various fighters I have flown on.

Also ... first up ... a sincere apology to all the BRfites at the stall at Yelahanka ... I was unable to meet you guys. The nature of television journalism is such that there is often no real time for genuine engagement with people who know and understand. I was simply too busy filing stories on Ratan Tata's sortie ... the IJT crash or the air displays. This is all for a larger audience and not stuff which would necessarily interest an expert audience ... like many of you over here.

I flew the same F-16 as Ratan Tata ... my pilot was Paul Randall of Lockheed Martin. I was invited by the US Ambassador to fly the jet. Prior to the sortie, the Lockheed Martin people were very specific about medical examinations. I underwent a full fledged medical at the CME at Subroto Park Delhi. What should have been a basic physical (so I thought) turned out to be an ECG, a urine test, a blood test, hearing, eyesight, reflex, ENT, BP and a basic examination of the spinal cord. The Group Captain who examined me made it clear that he intended being entirely rigorous and to `please let us do our job.' So I shut up ... and went through 4 hours of tests. The end result ... fully fit ... and certified to fly though I was told to kill 2 kgs. Later, the Lockheed Martin flight surgeon who spoke to the Group Captain was told I was a `a fine physical specimen !' I was relieved.

At Yelahanka ... Paul ... my pilot ... had been briefed on my previous flight experiences and asked me specifically what I wanted to do. I told him that I had done 6.2g in the past without much difficulty and wanted to test the 7 g threshold. I made it clear that I wanted to experience the flying aspect of the sortie ... though they made it clear that they intended to demonstrate some of the systems on board including the radar's operations.

The F-16 cockpit is narrower than the cockpit of all the other fast jets I have been on. Behind the side-stick controller is a small elbow rest and the position of the right arm is extremely comfortable ... and far more ergonomic that a conventional stick. Also, remember, the side-stick is pressure sensitive ... and doesnt move more than an inch or so in all directions. As always, I needed to know some basic operations for the flight: emergency O2 supply, intercom operations and arming the ejection seat.

I have a flight overall already and gloves which Boeing gave me when I flew the Hornet at the Farnborough airshow last year. On this occasion ... I wore a Lockheed Martin supplied kit ... with boots and G suit.

Before I could get anywhere close to the jet ... I had to practise sliding in and sliding off the oxygen mask ... Believe me, its really difficult.

After being briefed and strapped into the cockpit ... by a 70 year old man (someone who has been in the company for decades) ... we rolled to the edge of the runway ... for what would be a full burner take-off.

I immediately noticed a couple of things about the jet which I did not like. The 02 flow into my mask wasnt smooth ... and the position of the intercom ... under and ahead of the throttle ... was difficult to reach. It would be much much tougher while pulling gs.

Rear visibility on the F-16 twin ... contrary to what I though ... is mediocre ... the main hinge of the canopy folds and closes directly in front of the rear pilot.

The take-off run on full burner ... is absolutely stunning ... the acceleration is breaktaking ... far in excess of what I experienced on any of the other jets I have flown on. We went vertical, did a half loop ... straightened out and headed to an area northeast of Yelahanka.

Paul fired up the radar .. and put it into ground mapping mode ... the resolution on this Block 50 aircraft which had flown straight from the Iraq conflict ... was acceptable ... given the generation of the radar ... far inferior, though, to what I had seen on the F-18 F Super Hornet last year. There were (understandably) blindspots when we flew over a few hillocks. I was also shown the moving ground target attack mode ... where we locked on to what I was told were a few trucks ... the resolution of the radar was too poor for me to see what we had locked onto ...

The flying characteristics of the jet ... are simply amazing ... and though the MiG 29 and 35 pull the same g ... I feel the instantaneous rate of turn and the responsiveness of the controls are superior to the Russian jets. I base this on extensive personal experience ... though I will add no further to this aspect of the sortie.

Anyway, we continued turning and burning ... and Paul took me straight to 8 g ... which is bloody painful. For the first time, I felt close to blacking out ... though I recovered the second he let go of the controls. What made things worse was the position of my back/neck ... I was actually neck down when we pulled ... and in a high g maneuver ... if you dont have your head back ... you are essentially in trouble !!! Next time around ... I made sure I was in the correct position ... and we pulled clean to 8.2 g. What amazed me was Paul's ability to speak to me through the 8 g experience ... with no major change in the tone of his voice. Believe me ... pulling more than 6 g hurts like hell ... For starters, you feel the g suit is disembowelling you ... and then at about 7 your vision starts going. I went home that day with a pain in my back.

My sortie lasted about 35 minutes ... as we returned ... we tracked a few civilian jets in the area ... and interrogated them using IFF ... They pinged correctly ... so we didnt shoot them down !! ...

I noticed the ATC controller's commands were very difficult to understand ... and we were being consistently given difficult to understand instructions. In fact ... on a few occasions, Paul asked me if I could understand what the ATC said .. and I said I didn't. Paul kept asking the controller to repeat his instructions ... In fact, there was an element of uncertainty even while we were on finals.

Tough down was perfect ... though the runway at Yelahanka is an up and down hill ... My F-16 sortie had come to an end ... and with that my Falcon sortie.

Coming up ... sometime soon ... all about my ride on the prototype of the MiG-35 ... the first non-Russian to get a ride on the jet ...

Cheers
Vishnu Som
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Last edited by Vishnu on 19 Feb 2007 23:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Jagan » 18 Feb 2007 19:43

Hi Vishnu

I think the visibility in the two seater F-16 would not compare with the visibility of the single seater F-16.

How does the visiblity for the front seater in the MiG compare? any bulky HUDs or anything that affect it?

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Postby Vishnu » 18 Feb 2007 20:08

Hi Jagan ... there is no comparison of course with the front seat. Visibility from the front seat of all the jets I have flown is fine ... In terms of rear seat visibility ... the Sea Harrier trainer has the most outstanding field of vision since it is considerably higher than the front seat.

The MiG 29 UB actually has pretty decent forward visibility from the rear seat courtesy the periscope. The MiG 35 has an outstanding HUD repeater ... the picture is perfect ...

Cheers ...

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Postby shiv » 18 Feb 2007 20:27

What a lovely and unique post, Thanks for sharing the experience.

Of course you're fit - it shows on TV.

Raju

Postby Raju » 18 Feb 2007 20:27

The flying characteristics of the jet ... are simply amazing ... and though the MiG 29 and 35 pull the same g ... I feel the instantaneous rate of turn and the responsiveness of the controls are superior to the Russian jets.


I presume this is what the pakis keep barking about when they talk of the 'superior' capability of your fizzle-ya pilot.

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Postby Vishnu » 18 Feb 2007 20:34

Raju ... believe me ... the F-16s ability to turn and burn ... lose less energy ... and regain energy really quick ... is incredible ... You can just keep pulling gs forever. You also exert far less energy in using the side-stick which is incredibly sensitive. i didnt care too much for the seating position though ... to pitched back for me ... !!

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Postby Gerard » 18 Feb 2007 20:45

Now that you've flown in all the major contenders for the MRCA contract. do you have a favorite horse in the race?

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Postby Vishnu » 18 Feb 2007 20:53

I haven't flown the Gripen ... a jet I would LOVE to have flown on ... I have seen its air displays at Farnborough and here ... and its always spectacular ... in my book second to the MiG 29OVT.

My personal favourite is the MiG 35 ... for reasons you will read about in my second detailed piece ... when I get around to writing it ... probably tomorrow !

Cheers
Vishnu

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Postby JCage » 18 Feb 2007 20:55

Thanks for the writeup Vishnu, very interesting!!

My personal favourite is the MiG 35 ... for reasons you will read about in my second detailed piece ... when I get around to writing it ... probably tomorrow !


Tease!!! :) :D

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Postby Ajay M » 18 Feb 2007 21:09

GR8 work sir and loved reading your experience ,do you have any other aircraft in mind ?? whats next ?

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Postby krishnan » 18 Feb 2007 21:10

EF2000:d

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Postby Mihir » 18 Feb 2007 21:16

Raju wrote:
The flying characteristics of the jet ... are simply amazing ... and though the MiG 29 and 35 pull the same g ... I feel the instantaneous rate of turn and the responsiveness of the controls are superior to the Russian jets.


I presume this is what the pakis keep barking about when they talk of the 'superior' capability of your fizzle-ya pilot.


Wrong! It is the narrower cockpit!

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Postby JCage » 18 Feb 2007 21:42

The cockpit is tight, fair and the seat makes the posterior tight? :oops: :?:

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Postby Vishnu » 18 Feb 2007 21:49

Since we are on in this vein ... let me tell you ... the biggest danger of flying in a twin seater jet is that your family jewels are in serious danger of being disturbed when the pilot suddenly yanks on the stick !! And because you are stuck in your seat with a 5 point harness ... you can do nothing but watch in horror as you get whacked !! Give me a side stick anyday !!

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Postby Mihir » 18 Feb 2007 21:52

Vishnu wrote:Give me a side stick anyday !!


:eek: :eek: :eek:

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Postby JCage » 18 Feb 2007 21:58

Vishnu wrote:Since we are on in this vein ... let me tell you ... the biggest danger of flying in a twin seater jet is that your family jewels are in serious danger of being disturbed when the pilot suddenly yanks on the stick !! And because you are stuck in your seat with a 5 point harness ... you can do nothing but watch in horror as you get whacked !! Give me a side stick anyday !!



Well that makes sense. The average PAF pilots cojones are so big (what you dont believe them?) that obviously only a side stick must do. Ek maidaan main do talwaar nahin ho sakte hain! :shock:

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Postby Aditya_M » 18 Feb 2007 21:59

good lord

i should've been a journo.

:cry:

Oh well, option #2 now - earn craploads of money and buy / influence my way in.

Yes Mr. Tata, this means you!

---------

Vishnu, it feels like a harder turn or a faster one because the Falcon pulls them at a very high speed in the first place, the Fulcrum and Hornet both pull them - and turn faster - at a lower speed. The Falcon isnt built for lift, only speed. They have a saying in the F-16 community: "With all that thrust, who needs lift!"

And boy does that plane have a lot! Saw it do a vertical charlie with SIX rolls in the corkscrew. Unbelievable, and he was doing it right above my head.

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Re: My F-16 and MiG 35 sorties at Yelahanka

Postby svinayak » 18 Feb 2007 22:04

Vishnu wrote: I was invited by the US Ambassador to fly the jet.


Is it because of your coverage in BR you have a first invitation from jet companies. The competition has given the first chance on their aircraft and your have a sizable audience which is more than a few experts.

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Postby JCage » 18 Feb 2007 22:10

Lets be clear, NDTV TV programs have a wide audience.
Doubt the ambassador even knows of Vishnu posting on BR.

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Postby Shankar » 18 Feb 2007 22:46

so one more convert to MIG 35 - I feel great

Vishnu when you write the piece on Mig 35 can you please compare with F-18 like putting comparative statements in bracket

Raju

Re: My F-16 and MiG 35 sorties at Yelahanka

Postby Raju » 18 Feb 2007 22:52

Acharya wrote:
Is it because of your coverage in BR you have a first invitation from jet companies. The competition has given the first chance on their aircraft and your have a sizable audience which is more than a few experts.



PM and FM have admitted on ocassion that they spend the odd evening watching NDTV news and having dinner with family. The ambassador knows who is the audience..

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Postby Harry » 19 Feb 2007 00:31

Image

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Postby Manohar » 19 Feb 2007 00:45

Vishnu -

Nice to hear your report. I want to fly in one of these jets too, other than being an analyst on the subject, I have to figure out my USP to get in!

On a serious note, I am drawn to the fact that this is a Block 50, with a clear competitive disadvantage over what you saw when you flew an F-18 (did you fly in the E/F w/ AESA, APG-79?) They must have known your previous experiences and, most importantly, that you have a ready media reach into the strategic community.

I wonder if L-M might not have missed a trick here....they are not pitching the Block 50/52 for this program...instead, they may offer the Block 60 (w/ APG-80), depending on what the SQRs are.

Note: L-M does not have an ENDP for AESA yet, to my knowledge, although Boeing does, and this may be a reason why they left the real heavy artillery at home.

Please get to the MiG-35 report quick, I am curious to hear why you thought it was the best. I have a question on the long-term industrial benefits to Indian industry w/ the Mig-35, but look forward to the discussion.

Regards,
Manohar.

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Postby SaiK » 19 Feb 2007 01:02

another of som of a gun! thread ... wow~..

i hope the mig-35 did you the 8g as well.. btw, please give more info on the mig35 aesa and its features anything that was made explicit to you.

again i should expect some info about the rd-33mk (did it have the mkv thrust vector) smoke issues.

did you see anything on the screens w.r.t their much bloated mig IRST.

--
btw does the f-16s court left handers with left side sticks? imho that's thats the only disadvantage.

great ride it should have been.. btw, any talks on the mig-35 external load [for ks172 etc..?]

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Postby Katare » 19 Feb 2007 07:25

Simply awesome! Can't wait for your Mig 35 experience!

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Postby Cybaru » 19 Feb 2007 11:14

frigging hell .. Another one again in less than a weeks time ??

Damn you lucky #$E()#$ you..

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Postby Sri » 19 Feb 2007 11:59

Vishnu,

you are so damn friggin lucky... dunno when will i break my ATR, 737, 320 jinx... :-?

Good on you mate!!! can't wait for the Mig 35 post....

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Postby Philip » 19 Feb 2007 19:56

yes,what i suspected.The F-16 display for the aeronuts at Aero-India was a poor one in comparison to the F-18.The US is really trying every trick to sell us the F-18,as they know that we won't buy the F-16 because they've sold Pak dozens of new ones.So what they did at Aer0-India was to get the F-16 display to do two things.One,to look quite inferior to the F-18,so that we could pat ourselves on the back and think that Pak have been sold the "dummy"and get our "jewels" in a real twist with the F-18s gyrations it tried to emulate the MIG-35,which is the strongest contender of all aircraft in the running.

The Gripen is actually the ideal one for the IAF,but we will never sacrifice the LCA for the sake of national pride and so boom goes the Gripen and boom goes the F-16 to.If the MIG-35 can come with an AESA radar that meets our specs. ,at the price-it is the cheapest of the lot,it is a steal.Can we afford large numbers of two heavy fighters -SU-30MKI and the Typhoon or Rafale? These two are better than the F-18,which anyway comes in as the most expensive.It is only massive blackmailing of India that we will see the F-18 in IAF roundels.

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Postby Manohar » 19 Feb 2007 21:16

Hi Philip -

To be honest, I seriously doubt whether there is some deep conspiracy within the US government to favor the F-18 over the F-16. At this commercial and requirements-definition level, the USG is too disjointed for any such integrated machinations.

Lockheed Martin is too savvy for that, and will scream bloody murder. Notice how much money L-M is spending on its BD activity in India at the moment - they are serious about the market (but not certain about the results at this point in time b/c the RFP keeps getting delayed).

Anyone have any thoughts on why the RFP is being delayed?

Also, I am curious as to why you think the MiG-35 is the best for India? I welcome the discussion, but would question the long-term benefits to Indian industry (especially w/ the 30% offsets and the required ToT).

I think Gripen is out b/c it lacks an AESA?

Regards,
Manohar

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Postby Vishnu » 19 Feb 2007 22:11

Guys ... wait a bit for my MiG 35 writeup ... I am really busy anchoring the Samjhauta Express blast. Tx, Vishnu

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Postby Singha » 19 Feb 2007 22:36

Does Col Ajai shukla get to ride anything these days ?

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Postby bala » 19 Feb 2007 22:42

The writeup is a front row seat. Mucho Gracias. Real life experience beats all the speculation and scenarios. Someone from the Indian press like Vishnu gets the dibs for flying these advanced crafts. I am keenly awaiting the MiG 35 writeup.

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Postby Vishnu » 19 Feb 2007 22:59

Yes, but Vishnu is too busy pulling gs ... and looking the jock when he is in the jet ... far, far less focussed asking about the resolution of the MFD ... but keep waiting ...

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Postby Kersi D » 19 Feb 2007 23:43

Vishnu wrote:Raju ... believe me ... the F-16s ability to turn and burn ... lose less energy ... and regain energy really quick ... is incredible ... You can just keep pulling gs forever. You also exert far less energy in using the side-stick which is incredibly sensitive. i didnt care too much for the seating position though ... to pitched back for me ... !!


Is it because of its's high thrust to weight ratio ? Probably the engine has high "acceleration"

Kersi

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Postby SaiK » 20 Feb 2007 00:18

Singha wrote:Does Col Ajai shukla get to ride anything these days ?


I thought he had a "Raptor Ride" here in BR last week! :D

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Postby asprinzl » 20 Feb 2007 08:52

BRF is lucky to have a mainstream newsman as a member. How many online forums can claim to have such privilage?
AS

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Postby NRao » 20 Feb 2007 09:26

Vishnu,

I understand that you were concentrating on the flying aspect of these machines.

However, did any topic related to what would be the technical benefits for India IF India bought any of these machines ever come up? Off-sets, manufacturing techs, other techs, etc? Do you see either country/vendor having any distinct advantage?

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Postby SaiK » 20 Feb 2007 09:37

well.. i am really looking at Vishnu's unbiased report on mig-35.. please be reminded the 35 folks brought in to AI07 some really sexy chicks. God knows what tables are turning.. sope.. lets focus on the merits...

whazzup.. where is the mig-35 ride? we all are eagerly waiting! vishnu.

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Postby Philip » 20 Feb 2007 10:56

Manohar,Shiv and I watched the F-16 fly around in mostly "straight lines",similar to our MIG-27/Jags in the air.It seemed to both of us to be rather funny ,lukewarm effort and we compared it with the performance of the F-18,a superb performance by the pilot,as the aircraft tried to match the conjuring skills of the MIG-35.On paper,it is highly unlikely that the IAF will buy an aircraft which is already in service with pak,which is also going to get 500+ AMRAAMs! We would want a superior aircraft "win" either way,that is to get both India and pak to buy US aircraft,the sweeter the F-18 looks against the F-16 in Indian skies,the more likely the possibility is that we will prefer the F-18.That is the gameplan,believe me and the US hard sell is for the F-18,not the F-16,which has anyway been sold for decades to almost everyone in the western military camp.The F-18 production line may be extended as the JSF is experiencing some delays.especially the alternative engine that the UK wants and the F-22 raptor has become so exorbitantly expensive that fewer are going to be built.

There have been recent articles in the media about the real value of the F-22 when the US is faced with situations like Iraq,which call for aircraft and helos to go into "harms way".having the equivalent of a Rolls royce in the sky is hot going to help much.Similarly,two well known Us aerospace engineers worked on the original F-16 design wrote a piece in a JDW issue about the value of dogfighting,a vital aspect which is being ignored today by advocates of BVR weaponry make a compelling argument for aircraft that are small,less visible,highly manoeuverable which can outsmart a larger supposedly better equipped heavy aircraft.I shall try and post the relevant excerpts of that article later on.It is worth noting here the views of US pilots when they faced the IAf for the first time.They were full of praise for the MIG-21 Bison!

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Postby Singha » 20 Feb 2007 11:30

its well known any model of F-16 has faster acceleration compared to F-18.
the F-15 again will probably leave the F-16 in the dust esp as it goes supersonic+

apparently the F-22 on dry thrust accelerates so fast the F-16 chase planes need to use afterburner just to keep up.


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