Lockheed Martin has been evolving the F-16 over the years. It has been massively transformed from the original F-16A (which was a big change from the YF-16) to the Block 50/52 version. The development of the F-16E/F for the UAE took the jet up another level. When the Israeli Air Force decided to buy an updated jet, they created the F-16I Sufa. A lot of local electronic systems are incorporated to the LM designed airframe.
As you take a closer look at the airframe, you see all sorts of bits that are specific to the jet. The big spine is a common feature these days although it was pioneered on Israeli jets a long time ago. Aside from that, there is a circular antenna on the spine. On the sides of the inlets are some more antennae. Head back on the spine and some more side antennae seem to be present (although not on all of the jets I saw). Then there are sensors on the canopy (which I guess are related to helmet sighting systems). The jet is covered in devices. I assume there is a great system for integrating all of the information these sensors are gathering. The crew should have plenty of data to work with.
Airliner design is a complex task with many compromises. It is not a surprise that some aspects of the design that results aren’t exactly what you would like. Today I am picking on one particular type – the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This is almost as new as it gets in the airliner design world so you would expect it to be better than what came before. However, having seen a number of them recently, I have been focused on two areas of the design that are rather disappointing. One is the wing root fairing area and the other is the cargo doors.
A nice smooth design is what the old aero guy in me likes to see and the inlets and fairings around the transition from the fuselage into the wing root are pretty ugly. They are obviously there as a result of functionality requirements but it does not look good and I imagine it comes with a drag penalty that has had to be accepted.
The other area is the cargo doors. I am not sure whether this is a function of the load transfer requirements from composite to metal in the hinges but this area looks rather chunky and draggy. I know from previous projects that the nature of composites versus metals means that you can end up with some large joining fixtures to redistribute the loads but there may be other reasons I haven’t thought about. Given how smooth some metallic fuselage cargo doors are, these jumped out at me. Perhaps I have never looked closely enough at other types. Whatever the fairness of it, I just don’t like what they have done here.