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Originally posted by Figher Master FIN
I was thinning of that Raptor picture first time I saw it... It's strange... The "heat" shouldn't go strait down...
The two basic reasons that the Cobra is doable in MiG's and Su's are tolerance for inlet distortion from the engine and very clean exterior aerodynamics. The Russian engines and inlets are designed to tolerate an amazingly distorted airflow into the engine. With the F-100's and F-101s in F-15s and F-16s, the engine has a very real possibility of stalling at these flight attitudes. At low altitude and in the Cobra attitude, it would be a pronged aircraft!
The very clean external aerodynamics basically means that the Russian aircraft simply "want" to fly. To get the same (approximately anyway) maneuverability the F-16 is a dynamically unstable aircraft; without its flight control computers (quad redundant) it would rapidly go out of control. That is why they did not even bother with a manual backup for the flight controls. The first Migs' and Su's were essentially "fly by wire"; that is if you include twisted strand steel cables! They are both inherently very stable flyers (as I understand it the recovery from a cobra is to advance the throttle and let the stick float!) Since this is a _very_ unconventional flight regime, the control surface scheduling program in the F-16s computers just don't have the algorithm. (of course if they did, you would still be flying a glider since the engine would be out!)
The F-18 "hornet walk", if we are talking about the same thing, is the high AOA, very slow pass down the flightline used in the Blue Angles show? That is a very stabilized "tail stand" on the engines' thrust. The Cobra is a violently dynamic maneuver. Close, but no cigar. I'll have to admit though that if any US aircraft had a shot at doing a full fledged Cobra, the F-18 might be the one.
OBTW, there was an interesting writeup on US aircraft and their capability to do the "cobra" in Aviation Week several months ago. To me it sounded a bit like "sour grapes", i.e. that the maneuver really wasn't useful so why bother! Well, maybe not so useless if you had the opportunity to figure out how to use it!