One is super modern stealthy jet fighter that has cost more than $1tn (£640bn) to develop. The other is a 40-year-old fighter bomber that is to be replaced by the stealthy jet.
However, in a straight dogfight between the elderly F-16 and the stealthy F-35, it was the 40-year-old jet that came out on top.
A report in IBTimes revealed that an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was put through its paces off the coast of California in January and was found wanting. IBTimes, citing David Axe in the War is Boring blog, the F-35 can't turn, climb or evade gunfire faster than an F-16.
According to Axe, the pilot of the F-35 wrote in the post-flight briefing: "The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage.
"The evaluation focused on the overall effectiveness of the aircraft in performing various specific maneuvers in a dynamic environment," Axe claimed the pilot wrote. "This consisted of traditional Basic Fighter Maneuvers in offensive, defensive and neutral setups at altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 feet."
In his five-page briefing, which Axe had seen, the F-35 pilot explained his plane was "flying without anything under its wings or in its internal weapons bays, which would weigh it down. The F-16 was flying with fuel drop-tanks beneath its wings, a stipulation that should have given the F-35 a distinct advantage". Apparently not.
The F-35 pilot reported that there was "insufficient pitch rate" meaning the plane became too cumbersome to dodge enemy fire.
Of particular concern was the custom-made helmet, which costs $500,000 a pop, which gives the pilot a 360-degree view outside the plane.
The pilot said it was too cumbersome, so "the helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft."
IBTimes reported that Pierre Sprey, who designed the F-16, told CBC last year the new F-35 is an "inherently terrible plane" that's heavy enough to become "astonishingly unmanoeuvrable...In dogfighting it's hopeless".
The F-35 has been beset by problems, such as software delays, fuel tank redesigns and flight control issues, and as a result it is years behind schedule and billions over budget.