So you think you know the answer on who wins between the F-16V and the J-39E? Well let’s see if you agree with our resident expert, former F-16 pilot, and current SkunkWorks test pilot Nate “Buster” Jaros.

The rapidly approaching target is locked in the F-16V FCR (Fire Control Radar). Through his HUD (Heads-Up Display) and the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) helmet the pilot can see a diamond hovering in space, right where the locked target should be.  However, it’s too soon to visually make out an aircraft. He squints, there is nothing to see but clouds and blue sky.

The FCR screen says something entirely different and much more ominous is out there. He is locked to a fast moving target, and it’s pointing straight at him. Hot aspect. The closure rate is fantastic, well over 1,000 knots.

His experience tells him that this is no cargo plane, it’s no apparition either. It’s got to be a fighter, and the other pilot is coming straight at him, certainly trying to kill him.

His RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) bleeps in his ear, and a symbol appears on the screen at the 12 o’clock position. The approaching bandit has locked up his Viper.

He cross checks the diamond in his field of view. It’s still off the nose and level. The radar system says they are ten miles away now, and the closure rates have increased to 1,100 knots.

This other pilot means business.

He’s approaching aggressively and it will no doubt be a head on pass. There is no longer time to out-maneuver this unknown fighter, as turning now would simply set up a nice sweet shot for the approaching bandit, and put our F-16 into some kind of WEZ (Weapons Engagement Zone).

Gripen E (Courtesy
Gripen E (Courtesy

Like knights in a joust, he’s got to stay nose on to the bandit, stay aggressive and be ready to launch weapons, and fight. It’s too late to turn and run away.