Recently, it was reported that an F-16 fighter jet of the U.S. Air Force and a Su-35S fighter jet of the Russian Aerospace Forces had a close fight over Syria.
According to the captured infrared video, it can be seen that the distance between the two machines is still relatively close. Even the overall outline of the Su-35S has been photographed, so one can imagine how close it is to the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets.
It is said that the two planes have approached within 2000 meters, that is 2000 meters. This distance is already within the attack range of the opponent’s close combat bullets.
In fact, the F-16 fighter jets used by the U.S. Air Force are still at the F-16C/D standard and are not equipped with the four-and-a-half generations of F-16E/F similar to the UAE Air Force. However, the U.S. Air Force also has plans to replace all F-16Cs with active phased array radars.
Compared with the F-16C, which belongs to the standard fourth-generation aircraft, the Su-35S is a veritable fourth-and-a-half-generation fighter, which is a generation ahead of the F-16C.
In other words, the F-16C is no match for the Su-35S in beyond-visual-range air combat.
Practical examples can prove this. In August 2022, a Su-35S fighter jet of the Chinese Air Force intercepted four F-16V fighter jets on Taiwan Island by itself.
The main reason is that the Su-35S fighter uses the airborne Khibiny-M electronic warfare system to interfere with the airborne radar of the F-16V fighter In front of the F-16V’s radar. However, the Su-35S was already very close to the four F-16V fighters at this time.
If it had happened during the war, these four F-16V fighter jets would have been shot down by R-77 medium-range air-to-air missiles launched by Su-35S.
Since the F-16V equipped with the APG-83 active phased array radar is no match for the Su-35S, the F-16C equipped with the APG-68 pulse Doppler radar is naturally no match for the Su-35S.
The performance of the F-16C fighter
The F-16C is equipped with AN/APG-68 pulse Doppler radar, which can track up to 10 targets simultaneously, and can provide guidance for 6 AIM-120 medium-range missiles, with a maximum detection range of 148. It also has the ability to attack accurately at night.
In addition, F-16CBlock50/52 batches are also equipped with GPS receivers, AN/ALR-56M radar warning receivers, and AN/ALE-47 adaptive jamming systems.
In the power system, the F-16C is equipped with an F100-PW-229IPE aero-engine with a military thrust of 8 tons and an afterburner thrust of 13 tons. The empty weight of the F-16C fighter jet is about 8.9 tons. According to the method of mounting 2 AIM-120s and 2 AIM-9Xs and 50% internal fuel for air time, the air combat thrust-to-weight ratio of the F-16C fighter is 1.16, and the empty aircraft thrust-to-weight ratio is 1.506.
However, the F-16C is more praised for its stable performance. At sea level, at a speed of Mach 0.7, the F-16C fighter jet can achieve 9G overload, the maximum steady speed is about 21.5 degrees per second, and the maximum instantaneous speed is 24.8 degrees per second.
Also, at sea level, when flying at Mach 0.7, the continuous overload value of the F-16C fighter jet should exceed 7.4G, and the continuous overload value of the Su-27 fighter jet should reach 8.5 G.
At an altitude of 5000 meters, when flying at Mach 0.9, the continuous overload of the F-16C fighter jet is 7.45G, and the continuous overload value of the Su-27 fighter jet drops to 6.7 G.
However, the reduction of the overload capacity of the Su-27 at transonic speeds is mainly due to the insufficient strength of its materials. However, when it comes to the Su-35S, this deficiency has been made up for. The transonic trap of the Su-27 no longer exists.
In fact, the F-16C fighter jet had close combat with the Su-27, but the heavy Su-27 was defeated by the F-16C instead. It happened in the 1990s, when the former Soviet Union disintegrated, and Greece tendered fighter jets. F-15, F-16C, and Su-27 were shortlisted. As a result, the Su-27 lost to the F-16C in the fight, and finally, Greece chose the F-16C.
The performance of the Su-35S fighter
The Su-35S is equipped with a Snow Leopard-E passive phased array radar. Although it is a passive phased array, it has at least entered into a control system.
According to the specific information given by the U.S. military, the Snow Leopard-E passive phased array radar can detect F-22A fighters at 36 kilometers, F-35 fighters at 58 kilometers, and F-35 fighters at 300 kilometers to 400 kilometers. F-16 fighter jets and F-18 fighter jets were found at 400 kilometers to 540 kilometers away, and F-15 fighter jets were detected at 400 kilometers to 540 kilometers. The radar can also track 36 targets simultaneously and guide air-to-air missiles to attack 8 of them.
It can be seen that the performance of the Snow Leopard-E passive phased array radar is still very strong. The Su-35S can know the specific location of the F-16C before the F-16C finds itself.
Since the F-16C is equipped with the ALR-56M radar warning receiver, the receiver can detect and identify search, intercept, and track radars in ground air defense systems and airborne threat weapon systems and provide effective visual and auditory warning functions.
It can also rely on predetermined programs to conduct frequency searches, signal interception and analysis, and determine priority levels. Its detection bands have covered C-band to J-band.
The Snow Leopard-E passive phased array radar works in the X-band, and the X-band can also be called the I/J band, so the radar waves emitted by the Snow Leopard-E radar are naturally within the detection range of the ALR-56M. As long as the Su-35S turns on the radar to search for the F-16C, it will definitely be sensed.
However, it also happens that the Khibiny-M electronic warfare system installed on the Su-35S is in effect. Even if the F-16C knows the location of the Su-35S, it still needs to use the APG-68 radar to scan. At this time, the L-150-35 radar warning system of the Su-35S fighter can also know that the APG-68 radar has started to scan and only needs to turn on the Khibiny-M to interfere with the APG-68.
After all, the system has successfully interfered with the APG-83 active phased array radar, and it is even easier to use the APG-68 pulse Doppler radar. So, the F-16C must lose to the Su-35S in over-the-horizon air combat.
Since the Su-35S is equipped with two 117S aero engines, the after-burning thrust of the engines is 14.5 tons. The empty weight of the Su-35S is 18.4 tons, and its empty aircraft uses a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.57. Also, when it is mounted with 2 R-77s and 2 R-73s and half oil, the air combat thrust-to-weight ratio of the Su-35S is Only 1.08.
After all, the airframe’s strength has been improved, and the Su-35S is not restricted in any maneuvers it can make. It can be seen that the F-16C is not an opponent of the Su-35S in close combat.
In a nutshell, in Syrian airspace. When the F-16C encounters the Su-35S, it is better to retreat quickly. It is invincible whether it is close combat or beyond-visual-range air combat. If it really gets fired, the F-16C will suffer a lot.