posted on Nov, 18 2006 @ 01:33 PM
As Planeman stated, the Enhanced F-4 was an attempt by Boeing in the early 80's to provide some options for the Guard and Foreign upgrade at a time
when the F-16A.15 OCU was just beginning to be hard-sold and the F-16C 'with all the bells and whistles' was still just a .25 + MSIP pipedream.
They were officially told to knock it off as profit was and remains the name of the game and Texas is bigger than Washington State in D.C..
That said, there were two versions of the conformal (what would have once been called 'slipper') tank, one slender and for gas only, the other
deeper with accomodations for tangential carriage of various munitions.
The idea was similar but superior to that of the F-15E with real drag reductions shown in early testing, including supersonic carriage of up to 10-14
Mk.82 I think it was.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. On the phantom and the gun nose in particular, both the NLG and MLG fold rearwards/inwards through complex fairings, making life hard for CFT
designers to accomodate deep/bulky containers that fair over as much as into them. Additionally, there are auxilliary doors to the engines on center
belly. These are open all the time on the ground and would have to have additional 'flues' provided for use.
2. The outboard 370 tanks are more or less unlimited for Mach point and have a fairly decent G rating (5-6) when not fueled but do impose a
significant drag penalty. The outboard wing panels were also beginning to show a lot of cracking at the time so you didn't carry heavy weight stores
of any kind there if you could avoid it.
3. The centerline tank was always a pain with severe limits on speed and G when full and a near lethal tendency to cause 'bounce back' damage when
dropped much above 350 knots. SOME of this went away when the 'F-15' tank came online but you still didn't want to pop the centerline under a lot
of operational conditions. The larger of the CFTs would have accomodated enough gas to replace both tanks.
4. We were doing our level best to ditch the MER from USAF service inventory, it just took too long and was too big a tox-scrub hassle to clean and
recart before loading more bombs.
5. What made the F-4 special was not the gun but the radar and missile and targeting pod and EW well combinations that could be used at relatively
low impact on the main A2G stores and/or external fuel. It was something that neither the F-15 nor 16 could match and made the Rhino the all 'round
smart bomber of preference' for much of the early 80s, despite all attempts to sellup the LANTIRN program as a viable alternative. The CFTs would
have effectively required that these stores be either moved or requalified. Given that CFT missile carriage on the F-15 proved to be less than a
stellar success, I'm not sure that thid would have been such a good idea.
I'm not sure what would have been upgraded inside the jet (it's a real rat nest of 'layered' avionics, some of which require removal of things
like canopy and seats to get at) but I do remember a one-piece windscreen being tested on a couple Missouri-Guard F-4E's at the time. Air Defense
(F-4C/D) were looking at APG-65 and 66 as well as reinstalling F-106 IRST at one time so it's likely that this would have been considered and option
on the aging APQ-120 as well.
The IAF took the Super Phantom concept a step further and what eventually became the F-4E Kurnass or 'Heavy Hammer' mod (all avionics) started out
as the 'Super Phantom 2000' with PW1120 engines and at least the possiblity of canards. The variable ramp boost and reduced carcass on the (Lavi)
engines brought total T/Wr up around 1.18:1 and the inlet canards (rather like those tested on the FBW RF-4C) were designed to help offload the stabs
and provide greater control freedom. Combined, they just about doubled the F-4's climb rate to 20,000ft and they provided sustained turn numbers and
carefree handling margins that were close to what the modified MiG-21 Bis was capable of if not quite in the same league as the Teen jets.
What they eventually ended up sticking to was a complete rewiring of the jet with a digital bus, glass cockpit, and I believe a new, SAR capable,
radar in some of the jets. Of course Israeli aircraft almost always have augmented EW systems using local Elbit/Elisra designs. And a lot of Israeli
Phantoms also carry dedicated SRM pylon on or near the port forward missile well (duuuuh, I think it is, whichever side the NLG fairing is not humped