Viper Take-Off

An F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off on a mission from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2008. The F-16 is deployed from the Air National Guard\'s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson, U.S. Air Force/Released)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off on a mission from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2008. The F-16 is deployed from the Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, Ohio. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson, U.S. Air Force/Released)

Something I’ve meant to bring up for a while is that it seems, at least from the photos I’ve seen, that the standard wingtip missile on the F-16 has become the AIM-120 AMRAAM. Time was that it was almost always the Sidewinder. What’s the reason for this?

Comments

  1. I’m just guessing here, but I’d say that it’s because the Sidewinder is a relatively short range weapon. They probably don’t anticipate any short range encounters in the missions in the theater so they opted to either increase the medium range payload or shift the medium range to the wingtips and open up centerline stations for air to ground munitions. Just speculation on my part though.

  2. It certainly isn’t new. It’s been going on since 1999 at the least.
    …and here’s the answer, from an F-16 maintainer.
    “After looking it up in the -1-2, the answer is relatively simple…

    There is no allowable configuration that has AIM-9s on 1/9 and 120s on 2/8. All the configs listed have 120s on 1/9. There is mention that if the wingtip missiles are gone, oscillations may (read will) occur above .85M”

  3. One wonders why they bother with air-to-air weapons at all in Iraq. Except for a possible CAP in case of an Iranian incursion … it’s not like they’ve had an A2A engagement recently. Leaving the weapons behind means less weight means more fuel means more time on station. Unless it’s a flight stability thing (which would really surprise me … they designed a multirole aircraft that only flies properly with the munitions on??)

  4. AMRAAM has much longer range, yes, but it isn’t too bad at short ranges either I believe. It’s quite maneuverable and should be able to go into active mode not long after leaving the rail. Given the choice, when carrying A/G munitions or fuel tanks on the other pylons, I’d rather have AMRAAMs on the wing tips in case of air-to-air engagement.

    Hawk, they don’t weigh *that* much, and as TrustButVerify points out the plane’s really designed to have them there…

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