F-16 vs Gripen E – Which would win?
The F-16 is serving like a work horse for 30 air forces around the world. the legendary F-16 has proven itself as the world most capable multi role fighter jet and it still continues its combat operations somewhere around the globe since its first production in 80’s. on the other hand Gripen E is an information age multi role jet fighter capable of carrying out a wide array of missions. like the F-35, this war plane is the most sensor packed and smartest among the 4.5 generation fighter aircraft in the world.
Both fighter jets are considered “top of the line “yet cheap to maintain aircraft. Both have exceptional radars, cueing systems, engines, technology and latest weaponry. We thought it would be cool to compare the mighty F-16 with smart Gripen-E and determine which aircraft is better.
F-16 was first introduced in 1978. Around 4,600 F-16s have been built so far. Depending on the configuration, the cost of latest variant of the jet is around $35M. Operated by crew of 1 the F-16’s empty weight is 20,300lb, and maximum take-off weight is 48,000 pounds. The jet is powered by a single engine producing 29,000 pounds of thrust. With ferry range of 2,620mi, the aircraft’s top speed is 1,570mph. The combat radius of the jet is around 340mi. With climb rate of 820 ft/sec, the F-16 can reach at maximum altitude of 50,000ft. The fighter jet comes with 9 Hardpoints in addition to a 20mm rotary cannon. In contrast Gripen was first rolled out in 1996. Around 271 jets of different variants have been built so far. Depending on different configurations, at present per unit cost of the latest variant is upto $63M. Operated by a crew of 1, the aircraft comes in at weight of 17,600lb with maximum take-off weight around 36,400Ib. The Jet is powered by a single engine generating 22,000 pounds of thrust. With ferry range of 2,500mi, the top speed of the jet is 1,530mph. The aircraft can conduct combat operations within the range of 932mi. The Swedish jet can climb at the rate of 833 ft/sec and can reach at maximum altitude of 52,000ft. The aircraft is outfitted with 10 hardpoints in addition to 27 mm cannon.
F-16 was intentionally designed to be unstable to enhance its maneuverability. However it was compensated by its digital Flight Control System. Which means that the pilot’s controls are interpreted via an electronic interface instead of manual controls. Fly-by-wire controls are… On the other hand, the Gripen has a delta and canard type wing configuration with flexible stability. A triple aerodynamic control system allows highly agile maneuvers. The flight control system compensates for difficult environmental conditions and minimizes drag in the air…
Radar & Avionics
The latest variant of F-16 is equipped with APG-83 radar. This radar can search continuously and track upto 20 targets. The radar can detect enemy fighter jets with RCS of 1m2 from 85 miles… Likewise, Gripen is equipped with a high-performance Raven ES-05 radar, which features roll repositionable antenna to provide 120 degrees field of view. The radar is capable to detect 14 enemy aircraft simultaneously with RCS of 1m2 from 93mi…
The F-16 has 9 hard points and can be armed with wide range of air-to-air missiles, including Aim-9 side winder, magic 2, aim-7, sky flash and aim-120. The high off-bore sight, infrared air-to-air missiles such as aim-9X, Python 4, aim-132 and IRIS-T can be fitted. The aircraft also supports integration of anti-ship and air-to-ground tactical missile… Similarly, the Gripen is armed with wide range of weaponry. The air-to-air missiles include infrared guided short-range missile IRIS-T and BVR meteor missile. The jet has the flexibility to be fitted with sidewinder and A-Darter missiles to replace the IRIS-T, and the aim-120 to replace the medium-range Meteor missile.
Both fighter can do over mach 2 and fly about 50,000 feet above sea level but the F-16 has the better load capacity and therefore it can carry more weapons. the F-16 is more cheaper to acquire but more expensive to operate than the Gripen. Comparatively the F-16 has a slightly higher ferry range but comes with lower combat radius. one area where the Gripen has a significant lead is sensor fusion technology and lower rcs than the F-16. the Gripen is equiped with next level of sensors that can detect and track even stealth targets without compromising its location. the Swedish fighter has a smaller engine than F-16 but due to it’s lower weight the Gripen has almost the same trust to weight ratio as of F-16. the Gripen has a high service ceiling and has a better climb rate. the Gripen is much higher angle of attack and better maneuverability at low speed due to its canards and delta wings. both the aircraft is armed with a wide range of weaponry, however Gripen can be configured with European and american weapons.
After all, Gripen is an edge on F-16 in both format of combat (BVR+dogfight). Gripen has a superior radar and wide range of weaponry including meteor, while in dogfight Gripen has higher caliber gun and more maneuverable than F-16. It also consumes less fuel and is cheaper to maintain.