American F-16s Aren’t Supposed to Dogfight MiG-29s and Su-27s — War Is Boring — Medium

Automatic budget sequestration cut deeply into the U.S. Air Force’s training in 2012. Air Combat Command got just $3,1 billion—three-quarters of what it needed to fully train the thousands of pilots flying the command’s 1,600 F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters, A-10 attack jets and B-1 bombers.

So the command did something radical—and with far-reaching consequences as American air power retools for fighting high-tech foes following more than decade bombing insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Air Combat Command stripped certain airplanes of many of their missions, thus cutting back on the number of flight hours a particular pilot needed to be officially war-ready. Air-to-air dogfighting and low-altitude maneuvering suddenly became much rarer skills.

Perhaps most interestingly, the command essentially barred F-16s—at a thousand strong, America’s most numerous fighter—from engaging any enemy jet newer than a 1970s-vintage MiG-23.

via American F-16s Aren’t Supposed to Dogfight MiG-29s and Su-27s — War Is Boring — Medium.

Here’s the funny thing about the F-16. Designed from Day 1 to be the most maneuverable fighter around, the Air Force has never really treated it as a fighter. It’s always been more of a light attack aircraft. To be sure, it has always  had, and continues to have an impressive air to air capability. But a look at the US air campaigns of the past 30 years shows the Fighting Falcon has been primarily used as a striker, and left the air to air mission largely to the F-15 fleet.

So while we would, in an ideal world, continue to train F-16 crews for both the air to air mission and the air to ground mission, given the limited resources, it makes sense to actually focus on the mission they’re most likely to actually be tasked with.

7 thoughts on “American F-16s Aren’t Supposed to Dogfight MiG-29s and Su-27s — War Is Boring — Medium”

  1. There are not really “limited resources”. Tax revenues are again breaking records. Obamacare is expected to cost a hundred times as much as Air Combat Command ($318 billion), for an expenditure that has nothing to to do with enumerated powers.

  2. So, when the first Viper gets splashed by one of these theoretical MiGs or Su’s, does Choomster McWatchthisdrive get the bill? Or he just blame Mr Bush like the retard usually does?

  3. This is a very foolish act on the part of USAF. Penny wise, tons foolish. It doesn’t surprise me that this would be ordered. Arnold, Spaatz, and LeMay are spinning in their graves.

    Jug pilots many times ended up in mix ups with the Luftwaffe, while the Tangs, the 15s of their day, were off somewhere else. I guess we should take A2A away from the Beagles as well since their prime role is attack as well.

    I can’t possibly condemn this enough. It’s stupidity is so overwhelming.

  4. I really hate to say this, but it looks as though the USAF brasshats have been taking their full dose of stupid pills.

    I don’t know that Lemay would be too upset. He was more a heavy bomber guy, not so much concerned about fighters/attack aircraft. Except, of course, that they protect his bombers.


    1. He had a soft spot for the P-shooters. He started in Pursuit and never fully got it out of his system. He supported fighter development, but never had much influence on them. Other Bomber Generals did, and that’s why we got AC like the Thunderchief. God small bomber, but was a poor fighter. A lot of men lost their lives because the Thud was a poor fighter.

  5. I doubt anyone in the AF is happy with this decision. Heck of a position to be in, forced to choose between partially training most pilots or a fully training a small number and leaving the rest idle.

    Wonder what other bad choices the admin is forcing the military to make that we don’t know about.

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