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

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

1. The number of engines

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

Of course, this likewise bears a lot on survivability. If an F-16 loses an engine, the pilot’s gotta seize the according to handle. One F/A-18, on the various other hand, can limp back to the carrier.


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An F/A-18 Hornet assigned come the Gladiators of strike Fighter strike Squadron (VFA) 106 prepares come launch from the trip deck that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is underway preparing for future deployments. (U.S. Navy picture by Mass interaction Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alex Millar/Released)

2. Operation from a carrier

The F-16 is tied come land bases – the landing gear cannot handle the shock that hitting a carrier deck. ~ above the other hand, the F/A-18 deserve to readily shift between a carrier operation and also flying indigenous land bases.


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

3. Initial weapons suite

Did you know the F-16 initially didn’t have any type of radar-guided missiles? Aviation chronicler Joe Baugher notes 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 to be the an initial version to lug a radar guided missile, the AIM-7.

The F/A-18, though, could lug radar-guided missiles from day one. This was due to the fact that while the F/A-18 to be replacing an assault plane, the was likewise intended to assist defend the carrier.


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

4. Pure speed

The F-16 has actually a height speed of Mach 2.0. The F/A-18 can only reach Mach 1.8. Still, these planes are both very fast when they have to be. But in a pure drag race, the F-16 will win – and by a kind margin.


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

5. Just how they refuel

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

The F-16s in the United claims Air pressure 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 due to the fact that the air Force also has to refuel huge bombers and also cargo airplane that require a many fuel conveniently – and also the boom have the right to do simply that.

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An F-16 “Falcon” plane assigned to the 115th Fighter soup in Madison, Wi. Trails behind a KC-135 “Stratotanker” plane assigned come the 171st waiting Refueling wing in Pittsburgh Pa. If making method to receive fuel. Both aircraft space participating in one exercise conducted by NORAD close to the north United states border. (U.S. Air national Guard picture by staff Sgt. Jacob Hatcher)

6. Movie career

The F-16 has 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 Jason Gedrick (Doug Masters). The F/A-18 play a role in “Independence Day,” however it wasn’t quite the star the F-16 remained in Iron Eagle.