The untold story of Britain’s ‘F-16’
In the mid 1970s, the British company Hawker Siddeley developed a concept for a medium-weight fighter for the Royal Air Force strongly influenced by the US’ F-16. This series of ‘P.1200’ concepts came from the company’s Kingston division. Though considerably larger than the F-16, most of the P.1200 designs featured a similar air intake, canopy, leading edge root extensions and general wing configuration.
Strangely the P.1202 design was offered with either two RB.199s or a single RB.431. The RB.199 was then in development for the Tornado, but as experience would show with the ADV, it was not a suitable fighter engine; it was tailor-made for the low-level regime and was a poor performer at the medium and high altitudes that an air superiority fighter needs to operate in. The RB.431 study was essentially a Pegasus with reheat and no vectored thrust nozzles, though powerful it again seems an odd choice for a supersonic fighter.
The initial design, from November 1975, featured a canard layout with square shoulder-mounted intakes, similar to the later Saab Gripen. Further designs utilized a conventional tail and dorsal intakes. Internal armament for the early P.1200 designs was two 27-mm Mauser cannon. Air-to-air armament was expected to be AIM-9 Sidewinders and SkyFlash medium-range missiles. In the secondary air-to-ground role it could have carried four bombs in a low-drag recess.
By 1977 the aircraft had become even more strongly influenced by the F-16. Both single and twin vertical fin configurations were tested. The twin-tailed P.1202 pictured above, would have had superior high alpha performance to the F-16, and given a suitable engine, would have made a formidable dogfighter.
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There are a handful of ‘indigenous’ F-16 tribute designs; Mitsubishi F-2, AIDC Ching Kuo and T-50 Golden Eagle, which were really nothing more than an ITAR workaround, suspect this was probably for similar purpose.
Love the plane attractive and sensible it would have been deployed nonetheless the hawk 200 light sonic jet attack plane filled most of that role. Still Canada’s aircraft industry could attempt a stealth version of the aircraft to meet flight plane requirements if only it wasn’t short range.
Seriously the UK should have built the HS.1202 and put it up against the F-16 as it would have made things more difficult for the F-16s