A F-16 is circulation by Alec "Bulldog" Spencer throughout a mission at Eglin Air force Base, Florida, Feb. 14, 2019. The 40 FLTS mission is to execute exceptional fighter developmental test and also support to supply war-winning capabilities. (U.S. Air force photo by Tech. Sgt. Man Raven).

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The F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F/A-18 Hornet room both “lightweight” fighters. Each was intended to complement a larger, heavier fighter (the F-15 for the F-16, the F-14 because that the F/A-18). However they also have some large differences. Let’s look over several of them:

1. The variety of engines

The F-16 has actually one engine – the F/A-18 has two. This is largely because of their differing operational environments. The F-16 operates indigenous land bases, when the F/A-18 operates mostly from carriers.

Of course, this also bears a lot on survivability. If an F-16 loser an engine, the pilot’s gotta grab the according to handle. An F/A-18, top top the various other hand, have the right to limp earlier to the carrier.


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An F/A-18 Hornet assigned to the Gladiators of win Fighter strike Squadron (VFA) 106 prepares to launch native the flight deck the the plane carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is underway preparing for future deployments. (U.S. Navy picture by Mass communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alex Millar/Released)

2. Operation from a carrier

The F-16 is tied come land bases – its landing equipment cannot take care of the shock that hitting a transport deck. Top top the other hand, the F/A-18 deserve to readily transition between a transport operation and flying from land bases.


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A U.S. Air force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned come the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air force Base, Alaska, might 4, 2016, takes off from the base throughout RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. Aggressor pilots are trained come act as opposing pressures in exercises choose RF-A to better prepare U.S. And also allied pressures for aerial combat. (U.S. Air force photo by staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

3. Initial tools suite

Did you understand the F-16 originally didn’t have any kind of radar-guided missiles? Aviation chronicler Joe Baugher note that early A/B execution (Blocks 1, 5, 10, and 15) didn’t have the capacity to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM or AIM-7 Sparrow. The Block 15 ADF was the very first version to bring a radar guided missile, the AIM-7.

The F/A-18, though, could carry radar-guided missiles from work one. This was because while the F/A-18 to be replacing an assault plane, the was also intended to help defend the carrier.


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an AIM-120 AMRAAM being invited onto an F-16CJ. | us Air Force

4. Pure speed

The F-16 has a optimal speed that Mach 2.0. The F/A-18 deserve to only with Mach 1.8. Still, these planes room both really fast as soon as they must be. But in a pure drag race, the F-16 will certainly win – and by a kind margin.


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U.S. Air pressure photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano

5. How they refuel

The F/A-18 supplies a probe come latch into a drogue. The great news is the it have the right to use just around anyone’s tankers – even USAF tankers, which are modified to carry drogues in addition to their booms.

The F-16s in the United claims Air force inventory, though, have actually a receptacle for the boom from a KC-135, KC-10, or KC-46 come plug into. Component of this is because the air Force likewise has to refuel big bombers and also cargo plane that need a lot of fuel conveniently – and the boom deserve to do simply that.

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An F-16 “Falcon” aircraft assigned to the 115th Fighter soup in Madison, Wi. Trails behind a KC-135 “Stratotanker” aircraft assigned to the 171st air Refueling soup in Pittsburgh Pa. If making an approach to obtain fuel. Both aircraft room participating in one exercise conducted by NORAD near the north United claims border. (U.S. Air nationwide Guard picture by staff Sgt. Jacob Hatcher)

6. Movie career

The F-16 has actually a clean edge in this one. In the movie “Iron Eagle,” the F-16 is arguably the star alongside Louis Gossett, Jr. (Chappy Sinclair) and also Jason Gedrick (Doug Masters). The F/A-18 play a duty in “Independence Day,” however it wasn’t quite the star the F-16 remained in Iron Eagle.