I read this , or heard this , a week or so ago some where on the vast wasteland of time we call the internet.
Do you realize that the F-16 is as old this year, as the Spitfire was in 1980 !!! Its apples and oranges as to how they aged against their contemporaries .Then there is the technology factor and astronomical cost in cash,time, and resources it takes to develop a new fighter in this day and age .
Yet dang… the thought the US could have ever dreamed it would have a front line fighter that is as old today as the Spit was when I was about to enter High School is mind boggling to me.
The YF-22 flew 29 years ago and this September will mark 30 years since it flew. The X-35 first flew 19 years ago, which will be 20 years ago this October.
Once you try to push the edge of the envelope, it costs time, resources, and money to get that much further. In today’s dollars, the Spitfire would only be about $1 million USD; contrast that with the variable $80-120 million for an F-35. None of this includes operational costs, and since we have a number of private entities that can afford to fly Spitfires vice none that can afford the F-35 (contrast with the F-4 which is operated by the Collings Foundation, where they can only just barely scrape together the dough, never mind the fact permission had to be granted by the US Congress for them to own it).
The Spitfire was born into an era where so much about aerodynamics were unknown. There were limits, but finding them was a matter of trial and error. By contrast, when the F-16 came about, the SR-71 was a thing.
I think what comes out of this conversation for me is that aircraft are amazing. Compare an F-16 to a 1976 AMC Gremlin. Ok, that’s ridiculous, let’s say 1976 Monte Carlo. Look at how much car tech has changed. The F-16 has changed a lot yet the basic airframe continues to kick ass nearly 40 years later.
I remember when the Air Force finally capitulated and took their little Red White and Blue “ELECTRIC JET” .
Man the USAF Brass was really taking a beating for the F-15 acquisition , which they justified based upon what they claimed was the USSR World beating , nearly unstoppable , and could single handily win WWIII and IV Monster of a Jet … The Mig 25 .
They had to wash down that bitter tasting A-10 Warthog they absolutely loathed with a tall skinny glass of F-16 Falcon.
While It may have had a evolutionary FCS , but that damn thing could not carry its Pilot and his sack Lunch out of site of the runway it took off from without hitting a tanker twice .
Looking back, they hit a Trifecta with those three Aircraft , but at the time USAF High Command was sure the 16 and the Hog were 2 of the bitterest lemons anyone ever had to swallow.
Here’s another one… the movie Apollo 13 was released in 1995, 25 years after the events it portrayed… and here we are in 2020, 25 years after the movie was released (which doesn’t seem all that long ago)…