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Help with realistic CAS loadouts


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Hi, all! After reading a few good threads about where to mount my AIM-120s (on the wing tips) and how many tanks to take (2 under wing, no centerline), it got me thinking, what are appropriate and realistic CAS loadouts?

 

I've read so far that 6x Mavericks is not realistic, and 4x Mavericks was done briefly in one conflict but it's more common to see 1x or 2x Mavericks.

 

I've seen an asymmetric loadout of 1 rocket pod on one wing and what appears to be 2x of some kind of guided bomb on the other.

 

But enough speculating on my part. What are realistic CAS loadouts for the F-16?

 

EDIT: Oh, and do F-16s always take four A-A missiles or is it common to take a couple pylons off to save weight and just live with 2x AIM-120?


Edited by Xavven
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Hey @Xavven,

I was wondering the same thing regarding SEAD and after some searching found some answers on "the ultimate f-16 site". They have a nice forum. Some interviews on "Fighter Pilot Podcast" are worth listening to as well.

There's a lot of variables between nations, timeframes of use, etc. There's also directives from branches that have changed over the years; cluster munitions can only be had on X station when there's other AG munitions, etc. and they get more into that there.

Having said that, there's a fine line on this forum providing such information to an extent and rightly so in my opinion; that just means I have to find my "realistic" answers somewhere else.

I hope this was vague and clear at the same time, lol. Hope this helps.

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I know I am not answering directly your question but... do you have a realistic mission to accompany your realistic loadout? For example, if you are a single ship against a column of 6 tanks which are in the imminence of overruning a key position, then 6 Mavs would be warranted. But most of the missions the F-16s around the world flew would not be like that, and certainly not a single ship.

 

So even though I could use realistic loadouts, mostly I stick to what the mission requires... either all-out anti-tank Fulda Gap 6 Mavs, or a mix of LGBs, clusters, even plain Mk84s if the target is a huge barn.

 

I find that I enjoy more being present in the mission at hand and using an appropriate loadout than using a "realistic" one and being frustrated because it didn't worked well for that particular situation.

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4 hours ago, Xavven said:

I've seen an asymmetric loadout of 1 rocket pod on one wing and what appears to be 2x of some kind of guided bomb on the other.

 

But enough speculating on my part. What are realistic CAS loadouts for the F-16?

 

EDIT: Oh, and do F-16s always take four A-A missiles or is it common to take a couple pylons off to save weight and just live with 2x AIM-120?

 

 

What to use mainly depends on what type of conflict you are flying in.

Recently, like Syria, with no Air to Air threat you can let go of the A/A Missiles at the Wingstations; the Wingtip AIM-120 tho are pretty much welded on as they help performance.

 

Air to Ground 2* Fuel Tanks are what you always carry and for the remaining 2 stations less is more so you´ll end up with no more than 2 GBU´s and most certainly a single Maverick. Asymetric loadouts are not as common as with the Hornet, but was has been seen is 1*Maverick and either 2*GBU-12 or 2*GBU-38.

 

Realism would aslo dictate you having a Wingman; Human if possible AI better than none 🙂

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Xavven said:

Hi, all! After reading a few good threads about where to mount my AIM-120s (on the wing tips) and how many tanks to take (2 under wing, no centerline), it got me thinking, what are appropriate and realistic CAS loadouts?

 

I've read so far that 6x Mavericks is not realistic, and 4x Mavericks was done briefly in one conflict but it's more common to see 1x or 2x Mavericks.

 

I've seen an asymmetric loadout of 1 rocket pod on one wing and what appears to be 2x of some kind of guided bomb on the other.

 

But enough speculating on my part. What are realistic CAS loadouts for the F-16?

 

EDIT: Oh, and do F-16s always take four A-A missiles or is it common to take a couple pylons off to save weight and just live with 2x AIM-120?

 

 

I can always recommend the Osprey Combat Aircraft books as a great source of info, for example 'F16 Fighting Falcon Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom'.  Pilots from the units involved will describe mission types, events and loadouts, I have loads I use for campaign research.  Had a quick look at my Viper book for Mavs in OIF, one loadout described for a two ship was 2 x AGM-65 on one jet and 2 x 2000lb GBU on another (although this was a DEAD mission I believe).  For CAS in OIF, Mavs weren't mentioned, loadouts referred to were a mix of JDAM, WCMD and tanks + pod.  The 'slant load' is also described, this is TGP, then 2 tanks on inboard stations with 2 x GBU on a TER on each of the outboard stations (called slant load as the GBUs are positioned bottom and outboard on the TER so appear slanted - like on picture above).  

 


Edited by ChillNG
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Yeeee!  A loadout topic!

I'm always happy when I found tha tthere are other people out there that are interested in some realistic loadouts 😄

I'm enbarked in this "mission" since my early modelling years , and now with DCS it continues!

 

On 6/9/2021 at 6:54 AM, Mongoose83 said:

Hey @Xavven,

I was wondering the same thing regarding SEAD and after some searching found some answers on "the ultimate f-16 site". They have a nice forum. Some interviews on "Fighter Pilot Podcast" are worth listening to as well.

There's a lot of variables between nations, timeframes of use, etc. There's also directives from branches that have changed over the years; cluster munitions can only be had on X station when there's other AG munitions, etc. and they get more into that there.

Having said that, there's a fine line on this forum providing such information to an extent and rightly so in my opinion; that just means I have to find my "realistic" answers somewhere else.

I hope this was vague and clear at the same time, lol. Hope this helps.

I follow the same podcast, and I've asked that question specifically ... and the answer was "it depends" ... Mainly because, as you were saying, there are a lots of variables involved, like availability, cost, bring back weight, endurance, expected threat and so on.

 

 

As far as I know, an USAF Viper would always have:

- A ventral ECM pod ( or nothign, if the enemy does not have a realistic radar threat, like in Afghanistan ), but almost never a ventral tank ( for reasons I don't understand or know ).

- 2 Underwinf 370 gallon tanks

- 2 Slammers on the wingtips ( they reduce the flutter and should also improve the ragne a little, so they are always carried, and even if I've heard sometimes that they are causing fatigue cracks , I've never seen a Viper with Sidewinders on the wingtips and Slammers on the other pylons ).

- Litening / Sniper / HTS  pod ( it depends from the block also )

 

Then I've seen:

On pylons 2 and 8 1 Sidewinder L/M and 1 Slammer ( later, earlier there was 2 Sidewinders L/M ) , or 2 Sidewinder X. Consider that those pylons also houses the towed decoy, so they might be mounted just to have the towed decoy, even with the empty pylon.

 

Everything else is on pylons 3 and 7.

Again, as far as I know, Viper would usually carry on a single pylon:

- 2 JDAM 500 Lbs ( or one, if the twin mount was not in use yet )

- 2 LGBU 500 Lbs ( slant mounted )

- 1 Maverick ( but I don't know the version )

- 1 JDAM 1000 or even 2000 Lbs ( the penetrator warhead, I think ... the slimmer one ... ).

- 2 Rocket pods ( slant mounted )

 

And they usuallt combine those loadouts in a symmetric or asymmetric loadout.

 

Also, there are the always present HARMs and CBUs, but I guess those are a more aggressive loadouts .

 

 

Attached some examples of photos found online.

 

Also, I'll try to look in the various osprey books for references, as others were saying beofre me 😄

And again, there's the site about desert storm's loadouts that is quite interesting: https://www.dstorm.eu/pages/loadout/loadout.html

And finally, there's F-16.net

 

 

Anyway, I'm happy to have found that there are others interested in this 😄

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Edited by diegoepoimaria01
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Great response, a few notes:

 

12 hours ago, diegoepoimaria01 said:

but almost never a ventral tank ( for reasons I don't understand or know ).

When you've already got two wing tanks, the extra weight and drag of the centerline tank makes it nearly pointless. Something like 90% of the fuel added by the centerline tank is used just to offset the weight and drag of the tank itself.

 

Quote

1 JDAM 1000 or even 2000 Lbs ( the penetrator warhead, I think ... the slimmer one ... )

The USAF does not use the 1000lb GBU-32 or GBU-35, so you won't see those on Vipers, just Hornets. 

 

The slimmer looking GBU-31 is actually the Mk.84 version. Counterintuitively the penetrator BLU-109 version has a more cylindrical body and a blunter nose. 

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7 hours ago, Bunny Clark said:

Great response, a few notes:

 

When you've already got two wing tanks, the extra weight and drag of the centerline tank makes it nearly pointless. Something like 90% of the fuel added by the centerline tank is used just to offset the weight and drag of the tank itself.

 

The USAF does not use the 1000lb GBU-32 or GBU-35, so you won't see those on Vipers, just Hornets. 

 

The slimmer looking GBU-31 is actually the Mk.84 version. Counterintuitively the penetrator BLU-109 version has a more cylindrical body and a blunter nose. 

Oh … ok thank, I still get lost in the designations of the GBU-31 .

Also, I didn’t know that USAF did not use the GBU-32 and 35 … thanks 😊 

 

About the ventral tank, I didn’t know that, and I thought that other air forces uses it … but then a quick search showed the contrary ( I searched for the Belgian F-16 because they have internal ECM … but for those too , seems to be no ventral fuel tank … ).

I remember that it was counterproductive for the F-16XL …

 

Thanks for the infos and explanations 😃😄😃

 

 

Also, it would be fun to have like a database of Viper load outs seen around the world ( yeah, I know that , I’m using you all to fulfill a dream of mine 😝).

 

😃
 

 

 

EDIT: It would be nice for the hornet too 😄😛


Edited by diegoepoimaria01
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A lot exists for MRM A-G loads, i'm really curious about USAF A-A loadouts for air based  threat type missions. Normally scouring over the internet for any NATO Vipers I have seen the most common as 2x2 aim120 and aim9 and x4 120 with x2 aim9 sandwiched between. Have very rarely seen x6 120, seen a few x4 120s... They seem much more common than x6 120s. Seen a ton of mixed A-A and A-G together, mostly 2x2 and x2 HARM and wing bags. Seen also at times x3 120 and x1 aim9 on both mixed and A-A loads. Out of all of them the x6 120 loads you commonly see people flying with on servers is rarely seen IRL, even in actual combat operations. A lot of internet USAF Viper pictures I have seen is mostly mixed loads, exercise or actual military operation.

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On 6/16/2021 at 2:27 AM, diegoepoimaria01 said:

About the ventral tank, I didn’t know that, and I thought that other air forces uses it …

 

It gets used sometimes in training when no wing tanks are mounted, then it can provide a useful range extension, and it has a higher G limit as well. It's pretty rare though. 

 

On 6/16/2021 at 9:01 AM, Baz000 said:

i'm really curious about USAF A-A loadouts for air based  threat type missions.

 

It's an unusual loadout, the USAF has rarely used the F-16 in a pure air-to-air role, F-15s typically fill all the need that roll. But I think it's typically either 4x AIM-120 and 2x AIM-9 or 5x AIM-120 and 1x AIM-9. AIM-120s are always on the wing tips, but where the AIM-9s are mounted seems to be inconsistent, it may varies by squadron?

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11 hours ago, Bunny Clark said:

 

It gets used sometimes in training when no wing tanks are mounted, then it can provide a useful range extension, and it has a higher G limit as well. It's pretty rare though. 

 

 

It's an unusual loadout, the USAF has rarely used the F-16 in a pure air-to-air role, F-15s typically fill all the need that roll. But I think it's typically either 4x AIM-120 and 2x AIM-9 or 5x AIM-120 and 1x AIM-9. AIM-120s are always on the wing tips, but where the AIM-9s are mounted seems to be inconsistent, it may varies by squadron?

About the slammers, IT SEEMS that the more weight you have forwards the end of the wing, the better, and so sidewinders tends to be as inboard as possible. This is consistent with the few things I know about flutter.
I agree, the F-15 is the air to air fighter, the Viper , in the USAF, is the air to ground plane.

 

I think that the single sidewinder L/M was there because slammers can’t cover everything, but were, in that timeframe, far superior to the sidewinder. When the X arrived, the balance was re-established.

It’s also interesting because sidewinder should be better at short range, and the ROE in that timeframe were probably a lot centered on visual ID … so I guess that the sidewinder L/M were truly outdated at that point ( about 2005 ish ) … 

 

 

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