Comparison Between F-16 and MIG-29- Who will win?
The F-16 and MiG-29 were designed to achieve different goals. F-16 was designed to be a cost-effective, light multirole jet that could be a support to a more superior F-15 Eagle. Whereas, the MiG-29 is a typical air-superiority fighter jet. For MiG-29 designers range and avionics were not as crucial as powerful engines, high altitude flights, rate of climb, speed, and the ability to take off from really shabby runways. We thought it would be interesting to compare these two legendary fighter jets and determine which would most likely win in a hypothetical dogfight.
Let’s have a look at some specs first. F-16 was first introduced in 1978. 4,600 F-16’s have been built so far with a per-unit cost of $ 35 m. Operated by a crew of 1 the Aircraft’s empty weight is 18,900 lb, and the maximum take-off weight is 42,300 pounds. The jet is powered by a single-engine producing 28,600 pounds of thrust. With a maximum range of 2,620 miles, the aircraft can gain a top speed of 1,320 mph. The fighter jet comes with 9 Hardpoints in addition to a 20 mm rotary cannon. The combat radius of the aircraft is 340 miles.
On the other hand, MIG 29 was first rolled out in 1982. Around 1600 MIG 29s are being operated by the Russian Air Force and other countries. At the present per-unit cost of the latest variant is around $23.7M. Operated by a crew of 1, the aircraft comes in a weight of 24,250 lb with a maximum take-off weight of around 44,100 pounds. The Jet is powered by 2 turbofan engines generating 36,684 pounds of thrust combined. With a maximum range of 888 miles, the jet can reach a top speed of 1,490 mph. The fighter jet is fitted with 7 Hardpoints in addition to a 30 mm cannon. The combat radius of the aircraft is 441 miles.
The most important factor in deciding a dogfight is maneuverability; the maximum rate and radius of turn. To maximize its maneuverability F-16 was intentionally designed to be aerodynamically unstable… In contrast, MiG-29 has superior turning rates and super maneuverability. This was achieved with advanced aerodynamics. The tail of MiG-29 is positioned to take advantage of the four vortices by the wing and fuselage….
Power & Speed
F16 is powered by a single General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofans engine, which produces 28,600 pounds of thrust. The aircraft can fly at a top speed of Mach 2… On the other hand, a major driver of the MiG 29 performance is its 2 afterburning turbofan engines generating around 36,684 pounds of thrust….
Radar & Avionics
F-16 is equipped with the latest APG-68 radar which enables all-weather targeting with high-resolution detection and imaging. The latest variant is fitted with a glass cockpit, upgraded mission computer. Whereas, MIG 29 is equipped with the latest radar which is equivalent to F 16s APG-68 with a similar range and air-to-ground modes. All variants of MiG-29 included an optical locator system mounted on top of the nose.
The F-16 has 9 hardpoints and can be armed with a range of air-to-air missiles, including Aim-9 Sidewinder, Magic II, aim-7, Sky Flash, and aim-120. The high off-boresight, infrared Air to air missiles such as aim-9X, Python IV, aim-132, and IRIS-T can also be fitted. The aircraft also supports the integration of a range of AGM anti-ship missiles and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missiles.
On the other hand, The MiG-29 fighter is equipped with seven external weapon hardpoints. The aircraft can carry up to 2 R-27 air-to-air medium-range missiles, 6 R-73, and R-60 air-to-air short-range missiles.
Both of these fighter jets are equally capable war machines however neither of these two fighter jets can attack the targets at a greater distance. If they are flying at each other it will be the MIG-29 who will be detected first as the F-16 has a slightly better radar. In a dogfight, the MIG has the advantage as it is more maneuverable.