A F-16 is flow by Alec "Bulldog" Spencer throughout a mission in ~ Eglin Air pressure Base, Florida, Feb. 14, 2019. The 40 FLTS mission is to execute superior fighter developmental test and support to provide 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 space both “lightweight” fighters. Each was intended to match a larger, heavier fighter (the F-15 because that the F-16, the F-14 because that the F/A-18). However they also have some big differences. Let’s look at 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 as result of their different operational environments. The F-16 operates indigenous land bases, when the F/A-18 operates mostly from carriers.

Of course, this likewise bears a lot on survivability. If one F-16 loser an engine, the pilot’s gotta take the loud handle. An F/A-18, top top the other hand, can limp ago to the carrier.


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

2. Operating from a carrier

The F-16 is tied to land bases – its landing equipment cannot manage the shock the hitting a transport deck. ~ above the various other hand, the F/A-18 deserve to readily shift 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 in ~ Eielson Air force Base, Alaska, may 4, 2016, takes off from the base throughout RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. Aggressor pilots space trained come act as opposing pressures in exercises favor RF-A to better prepare U.S. And also allied pressures for aerial combat. (U.S. Air pressure photo by employee Sgt. Joshua Turner)

3. Initial weapons suite

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

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


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

4. Pure speed

The F-16 has a optimal speed of Mach 2.0. The F/A-18 deserve to only reach Mach 1.8. Still, this planes room both really fast as soon as they must be. Yet in a pure traction race, the F-16 will win – and also by a decent margin.


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

5. Just how they refuel

The F/A-18 offers a probe to latch into a drogue. The good news is that it deserve to use just about anyone’s tankers – also USAF tankers, which space modified to lug drogues in enhancement to your booms.

The F-16s in the United claims Air force inventory, though, have a receptacle because that the eight 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 large bombers and also cargo airplane that need a the majority of fuel easily – and also the boom have the right to do simply that.

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An F-16 “Falcon” plane assigned come the 115th Fighter soup in Madison, Wi. Trails behind a KC-135 “Stratotanker” plane assigned come the 171st waiting Refueling wing in Pittsburgh Pa. When making technique to obtain fuel. Both aircraft room participating in one exercise conducted by NORAD close to the north United states border. (U.S. Air national Guard picture by employee 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 Jason Gedrick (Doug Masters). The F/A-18 play a role in “Independence Day,” yet it wasn’t quite the star the F-16 remained in Iron Eagle.