1. What are the capabilities of the F-16 radar?
The F-16 has a radar in the nose of the aircraft. This radar is used by the pilot to locate and "lock on" to other aircraft. The radar is limited to forward looking and can only search 120 degrees directly in front of the aircraft. (60 degrees either side) The F-16 radar is also limited by the size of aircraft (i.e. It is easier to "see" a Boeing 737 than a glider). Civil aircraft flying outside of the limits of the radar can go undetected by the pilot, yet still be a conflict in a matter of seconds. The best way to identify a possible conflict is always "see and avoid." With student training in progress at all times, do not assume the F-16 pilot sees you.
2. When does Luke AFB do most of their flying?
Luke AFB is the largest F-16 training base in the world. It is home to over 135 F-16s that operate from 0700 (L) in the morning to 2330 (L) at night Monday through Friday and some Saturdays. Luke airspace is one of the busiest places for air traffic in the world.
3. Where do Luke AFB F-16s fly?
Luke AFB has several military operating areas (MOAs) that the F-16s conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground training sorties. To use these MOA's, Luke F-16's fly defined departures and recoveries. F-16 pilots practice visual and instrument recoveries into Luke AFB, Gila Bend Air Force Airfield, and Aux-1, a closed airfield located 13 NM north west of Luke AFB. The Radar Pattern has a very high potential for a midair due to the heavy workload of student pilots and radar approach control (RAPCON). In the Radar Pattern, F-16s are traveling at 250 KIAS. Luke AFB and Gila Bend Air Force Airfield have VFR pattern traffic as high as 10,000' AGL practicing emergency procedures.
4. Where is the highest potential of being involved in a midair with a F-16?
ILS base, dog-leg, and final for Rwy 21 is the area with the highest amount of traffic conflicts. Grand Avenue is a popular route for civil traffic to fly VFR into and out of local airports. This continues to be the area of concern of most F-16 pilots. The frequency of near midair's along the recovery routing is to Rwy 21 is greater than any other area in the Phoenix airspace.
The second highest potential for a midair is in the instrument pattern for Aux-1, the closed auxiliary airfield 13 NM northwest of Luke AFB.
5. Where should I fly to avoid hitting a F-16?
Avoiding high traffic areas such as final for Rwy 21 and Grand Avenue will decrease the possibility of a midair greatly. Also, avoiding the alert area depicted on the sectional will keep you clear of the Aux-1 pattern. Due to emergency procedure training above Luke, over flight below 11,000' MSL is not recommended. Although MOAs are not restricted from civilian VFR traffic, they should be avoided when active (weekdays and some Saturdays) to minimize midair potential.
6. What is the best way to see an F-16 and avoid a midair collision?
The best was to see and avoid any aircraft is to use a proper scan pattern. One technique is to start at one side of the wind screen and allow your eyes to focus every 10-15 degrees. Remember to search above and below the horizon. Traffic conflicts often occur while one aircraft is transiting the flight path of another. You can also detect other aircraft by communicating with Air Traffic Control. If traveling north of Luke airspace, contact "Luke Approach" on 118.15; south of Luke contact "Luke Approach" on 125.45.