Looking at the F-16 again, I noticed the tailhook which it seems to have. I know the F-16 is not designed to land on any aircraft carrier, however, if it was between ditching in the ocean and attempting to land on a carrier. During wartime or any emergency; if the F-16 found itself over an ocean and needed to land, and there was a friendly carrier nearby. Could it be done?
For this we assume an unmodified F-16, any of the F-16 variants are candidates for this thought experiment. However, I assume the lighter F-16A (I assume they all have the hook, even the early block A variants?) is better, since it has less mass which needs to come to a full stop?
I understand that this will probably be speculation at best, I'm just curious. Forgive me. If someone happens to know the figures of maximum load on the F-16 tail hook versus what would roughly be required, that would be awesome. However, I'm also taking just educated guesses.
My own layman efforts towards an answer, limited to mostly just identifying some obvious issues:
Is the F-16 tail hook even compatible with the arrest system an aircraft carrier uses? Perhaps it wouldn't catch the arrestor cable at all.
If it does catch it, perhaps it is not designed for that kind of abuse, and would tear straight off the airframe if this was attempted.
For carrier landings, the aircraft will typically from what I understand not flare and make hard landings which really beats the undercarriage. I'm not so concerned with the undercarriage braking, it would be better to recover an F-16 with broken undercarriage than losing it to the ocean.
However, if the undercarriage does break, it might prevent the hook from catching the cable at the correct angle. Even if it does grab the cable, perhaps the aircraft with broken undercarriage would risk sliding off the side of the deck.
From what I understand, there are no barriers on modern Nimitiz carriers any longer. Hence they will not be considered as an option. Perhaps a barrier could catch an F-16 but I'm more curious about the properties of the hook, undercarriage, and other issues with landing on a carrier.
I know landing on a carrier is hard, so what is it that makes it so hard for an F-16?