Friday, June 20, 2014

Fighter Jet Fight Club: Typhoon vs Rafale

Eurofighter Typhoon
Dassault Rafale
For and introduction and rule to Fighter Jet Fight Club:  Click Here.

What better way to kick off Fighter Jet Fight Club than to examine two frustratingly similar aircraft?  Both are twin-engined "Eurocanards" of nearly identical size, power, and performance.  They even share a common origin, but France decided to leave the Eurofighter party early and make its own aircraft.  Was it worth it?

Let's find out.

Air-to-Ground:

Interdiction:  Both aircraft carry incredibly advance electronic warfare (EW) suites equipped with jammers, decoys, and the like.  Advantage:  Tie

Deep Strike:  Both aircraft have similar combat radius'.  They are also both capable of delivering ALCMs like the Storm Shadow, AASM, or Taurus KEPD 350.  Advantage:  Tie

Payload:  The Rafale can carry 21,000lbs worth of ordinance on 14 hard points.  The Typhoon can only carry 16,500lbs on 9 hard points (it has 4 more dedicated strictly to BVR A2A missiles).  The Rafale can even carry nukes.  Advantage:  Rafale, clear winner.

Close Air Support:  Oddly enough, the Typhoon will have a much better selection of low collateral damage weapons like the Brimstone and SDB (small diameter bomb).  The Rafale may be equipped with Brimstone missiles or similar in the future, but nothing is solid yet.  The Rafale ultimately gets the edge here, however, as it close-coupled canard design makes it better a better flyer in the "low-and-slow" regime.  Advantage:  Rafale, but barely.

Winner:  Rafale.  The Typhoon is becoming a better air-to-ground fighter with every update, but the Rafale was built to be a ground-pounder from day one.  Its only real weakness in the A2G role is the lack of low collateral damage weapons like the Brimstone.  This could easily be rectified.

Air-to-Air:

First look, first kill:  Both aircraft have roughly the same IR and radar signature.  Both are equipped with AESA radars and IRSTs.  The Typhoon has a big advantage, however.  Its radar is 1/3rd larger (1,500 T/R modules vs an estimated 1,000) and it is mounted on a repositioner, giving it a wider field of view.  Advantage:  Typhoon, clear winner.

Beyond Visual Range:  Both aircraft are capable of roughly the same speed as well as supercruise.  Both are also capable of mounting the ramjet powered MBDA Meteor.  Unfortunately for the Rafale, the Typhoon's better radar and two-way data-link (vs one-way for the Rafale) with said Meteor wins the day here.  Advantage:  Typhoon.

Within Visual Range:  Again, both aircraft are quite evenly matched.  The Typhoon does have a slightly better power-to-weight ratio, slightly better wing loading, and slightly better climb rates, however.  The Rafale is really let down by its lack of HMD (helmet mounted display) however, giving the HMD equipped Typhoon a much better chance at lining up a shot.  Advantage:  Typhoon, clear winner.

Dogfight:  Once things get down and dirty, the Rafale starts to redeem itself.  The close-coupled canard design that allows it to take off from carriers gives it an advantage when both fighters have depleted their energy and missiles.  The Typhoon is no slouch here, but the Rafale wins it.  Advantage:  Rafale.

Winner:  Typhoon.  While the Rafale comes close, the Typhoon is better in almost every way.  Better radar, better Meteor missile link, HMD.  The only time the Rafale pilot would have an advantage would be in a slow, high angle-of-attack dogfight relying strictly on cannons.  A smart Typhoon pilot would likely not get suckered into this scenario however, having the full advantage in BVR and WVR missile targeting.

Versatility/Logistics:

Versatility:  While one has to applaud the increasingly capable Typhoon, the Rafale stands out as a true "Jack-of-all-trades".  It is equally capable as a bomber as it is an interceptor.  It even has a carrier variant.  While it may not be the best aircraft at any given mission, it is hard to imagine a mission the Rafale could not do.  Advantage:  Rafale.

Logistics:  Both aircraft are advanced two-engined fighters with similar operating requirements.  With over 400 Typhoons being flown by seven different nations, the Typhoon is the predominant non-American fighter of the western world.  This has given it more flexibility when it comes to weapon selection.  For example; for WVR missiles, the Typhoon has the option of mounting the ASRAAM, Sidewinder, or IRIS-T.  For the Rafale, there is the choice between the MICA or the obsolete R550 Magic.  While the guy down the street may curse the repair costs for his BMW or Jaguar, he can take solace in the fact that he doesn't have to do the same for a Citroen or Peugeot.  Advantage:  Typhoon.


Final score:

Air to ground:  Typhoon 2 - Rafale 3
Air to air:  Typhoon 3 - Rafale 1
Versatility/Logistics:  Typhoon 1 - Rafale 1

Final Result:  Typhoon 6 - Rafale 5

The Rafale is clearly the better air-to-ground attack aircraft.  Conversely, the Typhoon is much better air-to-air.  

What really makes the difference for the Typhoon, however, is its continued development and updates.  Its increasing A2G capability, combined with the addition of the CAPTOR-E AESA really push it to the front.  Then again, if these upgrades are cancelled, the story changes dramatically.

The Rafale would likely win this contest based on how the aircraft are equipped now.  This changes somewhat when we look at the current upgrade paths for both aircraft.  Unfortunately for the Rafale, its development has seemingly stagnated.  While there is talk of HMDs and low-collateral-damage weapons, nothing substantial has been done yet.  There are simply too many "ifs" and "maybes" when it comes to the Rafale's future capability.  The Typhoon's larger investor base really makes a difference here.

If the Rafale gets a HMD and a wider weapon compatibility (something easily done, BTW), I would upgrade its WVR and logistics scores bringing it to a tie with the Typhoon.  It would still come slightly behind the Typhoon in A2A combat however.  The scores would be tied, but a better A2A score would be the tie-breaker needed to declare the Typhoon the winner.  

Any thoughts?  Disagreements?  Arguments?  Let me hear about it in the comment section below!

78 comments:

  1. I appreciate your work. Like you mentioned.. this has nothing to do with kickbacks.. I read that Dassault would give everything.. the possibility to build the whole thing here in Canada and the software.. 100% kickback and then some.. the Rafale lost here but I'm rooting for it :)

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  2. Watched an interview with Sprey, a main man behind the F-16 (you tube). His comments on BVR systems were interesting. He places an emphasis on good pilot training for close up fighting over radar. I can only assume that better radar and seeker heads make BVR systems better but he does seem convinced. Would the pros care to comment? I liked his comment that the F-16 would smoke the F-35!

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  3. Well, you know I like the Rafale. Yes, the French were part of the Group building the Eurofighter and they left , because the French wanted to focus of ground attack , verses air superiority. All the other countries had aircraft that would do that for them, ie tornado and the hornet. Also countries where concerned about the MIG29 and SU27's, because Europe had no counter for these fighters .

    To your scoring, generally it plays out exactly as described above . But there are a few other factors:
    - the Eurofighter was built for air to air action, not bombing. It is being modified to be a multi- fighter. The Omni fighter Rafale was building as a ground attack aircraft and to a lessor extent an air to air fighter, but both.
    There are several versions of the Rafale - naval (one pilot), airforce ( one with the signal pilot and the other as a two person attack bomber). One version of the Eurofighter ( no navy, no two person bomber - they have the Tornado).
    - the Eurofighter had a much better cockpit.
    - weapons - will both have to update there software based on the counties inventories once the sign the contract.
    Again, the Rafale was built to do a lot of things very well for a good price verses one or two things excellent. One is built for a mixed fleet and the other is not. Which one does canada have?

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  4. Well, you began with the two "best enemies" in Europe skies!
    Typhoon got all the skills needed to perform awesomely in air-to-air combat. I truly wonder how Rafale got better score against typhoon in swiss evaluation.

    I'm happy to see you finally give back to the Rafale a RBE2 radar with 1000 T/R modules.

    Rafale and Typhoon are very similar aircraft, and the Rafale edge at a given time is essentially because of upgrades Rafale received before Typhoon. Now, with an AESA radar and a pretty wide range of weapons, there are no significant enhancements planned for 2020.
    Now, exports are needed, while a mid-life upgrade is likely in a 2025-2030 timeframe.

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  5. One thing that's hard to evaluate here is the SPECTRA EW suite of the Rafale, which Dassault presents as a main selling point. There isn't much public information available about it and its capacities. From what can be heard or read, it seems SPECTRA just makes it really hard for the Typhoon - or any other airfighter- to lock in. The track radar just turning mad when SPECTRA kicks in. This means the Rafale may be much better in air to air mission than what it looks on paper. I can't find the source, but I remember having read that the idea behind SPECTRA was that the enemy can detect the aircraft, but it can't do much about it out of dogfighting.

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  6. For the air to fround mission, it seems the ability of the Rafale to do very low level flight passively in auto mode has been overlooked. Being able to fly at 500kts, 100ft-200ft certainly is a big advantage and is really hard to counter. AFAIK, the Typhoon cannot do this and does not have passive terrain following capacity. So, for this reason, I think the Rafale has the edge over the Typhoon for deep strike. The Rafale may possibly be able to go through a defensive line, flying low and fast in passive mode, that would stop a Typhoon.

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  7. That's why I gave the Rafale a win in close air support. This is despite the fact that it lacks support for the Brimstone or similar.

    Brimstones received praise for there use in Afghanistan and Libya, with Tornado pilots far preferring them to a gun for CAS.

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  8. The Spectra is said to be very good.

    The Eurofighter has a very good ECM suite as well (those wingtip pods).

    Without more information, I decided to consider both systems equal.

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  9. The Rafale's helmet and weapon compatibility issues are both easy to solve. Any "canadianized" Rafale would likely have both. It would require an additional investment, however.

    I really like the Rafale, and I should make it clear that it lost this one mostly due to the fact that the Eurofighter is just slightly better at air-to-air and closing the gap in air-to-ground.

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  10. The Swiss evaluation was based on the baseline German version of Typhoon. Apparently the German version operates with minimum ECM/ESM.

    Conversely the RAF Typhoons have the full ECM package and will be integrating electronic attack capabilities with the new CAPTOR radar (currently in testing) under Project Bright Adder.

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  11. It seems as though it is much easier to take a dedicated air-superiority fighter and give it a strike capability than vice-Versa.

    The F-15 started out as a "not a pound for air to ground" fighter, but the F-15E Strike Eagle is one of the best strike platforms around. Conversely, attempts to turn the Tornado into a air-superiority fighter (the ADV) went nowhere.

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  12. That's interesting. I thought the only difference was the LWR (which RAF has and Luftwaffe has not). But on the paper, the faster, more powerful and air-dominance optimized Typhoon should not need that to win air-to-air engagement against the balanced Rafale.

    The only data we haven't clearly is stealth, but these two eurocanards should be rather close. For this fight, Doug most likely considered them equal on this.

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  13. Yeah, I see things the same way.

    ==> The Indian Rafale will certainly get HMD, most likely from Israel.

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  14. Strange initiative. This Ef/Rafale debate has long been stuck in the past
    neglecting the evolution of both aircrafts.

    If you are missing some sources about Rafale it could be interesting to read another
    time those three articles:

    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/the-rafale-as-canadas-next-fighter-part-1
    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/the-rafale-as-canadas-next-fighter-part-2
    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/the-rafale-as-canadas-next-fighter-part-3

    I know you already read them, but they have sources that responds to some of your
    questions.

    Plus some evaluations were already done by some airforces:
    Pic from Netherland and Swiss evaluations.

    Draw your own conclusion

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  15. Yes, but they created a new version of F15 for strikes. If they created a two seat strike version then ok. See the Rafale can drop its load and turn and manoeuvre like a sin of a gun in a dog fight.

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  16. Even though these planes are excellent 4.5 gens, they will be roughly as expensive as the F-35 when it reaches full rate production in 2018-2019. And the issue of dual engine vs single engine has been blown out of proportion.

    This being said, given the huge landmass of Canada, wouldn't we be better off with more cheaper planes like gripen NG or F-16 with AESA.

    The operating and maintenance costs of the F-16 are relatively low too. Sometimes they're said to be a bit high, but that's for the old ones currently in service. New F-16s would cost significantly less.

    Anyways the article was not about the F-16 but I think it should be included in the potential choices. A comparison between the grippen and the F-16 would be nice.

    In any case, concerning the rafale and the typhoon, if one wants maximum BVR capabilities, the choice should be the typhoon ( also because it can carry AMRAAMs), for a/g the rafale is better ( more range and more ordnance). Also when both have their CFTs, the rafale has the advantage of being able to carry its triple ejector instead of the wing fuel tank. The typhoon has a triple ejector but only for the lightweight brimstone.

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  17. Pilots quote Rafale RCS and IR signature way lower than Typhoon (including a british exchange pilot i talked to today at Cazaux meeting).

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  18. Interestingly i had today the occasion to talk with Gal Mercier (head of Armée de l'Air). Lower collateral damage weapon acquisition is on the way (needs being colsed to be written, an RFI will follow...). Btw Doug i think you forgot some points, pro and cons for both planes.
    About Rafale future, 1.5 billion euros is awarded for F3R standard (2018).
    MICA IR has a longer range to ASRAAM or sidewinder.
    Rafale do not have a pirate equivalent instead relying on network of sensors. Conversely it has a powerful TV channel (good for identification of ennemy).
    Captor E will (if purchased) be more powerful than RBE2, that is a fact. On the other hands it do not have IR MAWS capable to track a target like OSF-NG do.
    Typhoon has an edge in better energizing weapons (bit higher and faster, and AMRAAM has a longer range and a more optimistic evaluated NEZ). This advantage should disappear with RAMJET missiles like Meteor.
    You forgot the AASM factor. Nothing is close to its versatility in Typhoon inventory. (shooting off boresight simultaneously 6 A2G missiles over a very wide area is something you just can't do with Paweway IV).
    Assuming that Dass is as good as spectra is quite risky. During joint warrior, Rafale M could target Typhoon as the reverse was wrong (Spectra fooling Captor M). During Mace XII, a Rafale flew over a S300. Try to do that using DASS. Lastly DASS is much less precise than Spectra as it doese not use interferometry. Finally, Spectra5T is coming, flying this year on Rafale B301 with GaN based jammming antennas.
    Typhoon helmet cueing system doese give Typhoon an edge, but this type of helmet is available for export (integration studies were already done, although integration isn't).
    Finally, Typhoon has a way lower range than Rafale, partly due to lower fuel fraction, partly to lesser wet points and smaller belly tanks.
    All in all, much depend on tactics used by airforces.
    If you want, i can list you the studies leaded atm for Rafale future (called PEA). Do not forget that Rafale program was recently awarded 1.5 billion euros for incoming F3-R standard.

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  19. The f-35 and the f-16 re both build by lockheed martin so it is unlikely to see them competing against each other.

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  20. The rafale costs about a 100m$ an the EF about a 115m$ they are both still far cheaper than the 145m$ f-35A.

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  21. swiss evaluation (the reference comparison, rare)

    http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/8139/evalsuissecopie.png

    http://ptisidiastima.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/armassuisse_eval.png

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  22. For my view, the evaluation would sure no so clear as in switzeland or in india,
    canada result would be surely hidden and no transparency.


    result analysis for india by g2globalsolution

    http://image-shark.swigtbox.com/di-91ZE.jpg

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  23. The cost of the F-35A will surely go down as its production increases. Just going to a multi-year contract will reduce the cost by at least 5%. For LRIP 7 (FY 2014)the F-35A costs 98 million + 14 million per engine = 112M.
    In 2018-2019 with 2-2.5 times the current production rate and a multi-year contract, a reduction of the URF cost by 15-20% is not unreasonable. Bogdan says even more reduction for 2019 ( down to 80-85M with the engine ) but it is probably a bit exagerated.

    Also the F-35 operatonal cost is likely to decline significantly:
    http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Pages/2014/June%202014/June%2017%202014/Cutting-F-35-Sustainment-Costs.aspx
    In other words the F-35 cost will be in the same ballpark as the rafale and typhoon, and you get the stealth and overall better sensor, datalink, fusion capability...

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  24. Dear Supernova,

    I don't know where you got your price tag of $112M/plane.

    I did some research on the various contracts. Here are the prices/unit I found I managed to find in the media. I only selected contracts for one single type of F-35, the CTOL F-35A. The US tend to buy a mix of different types.

    Norway : $192.3M/plane
    Japan procurement : $176.7M/plane
    Israel : $144.7M/plane
    Netherlands : 162.1M/plane
    Korea : $170M/plane
    Australia 2nd order : $198.2M/plane
    Italy procurement $185.7M/plane
    I repeat myself. These are all prices for the "cheaper" F-35A.

    The UK, which decided to order the F35-B, has made an order of $303.3M/plane !

    All those prices are not even close to your $112M/plane.
    Moreover 20% off the average prices I found (i.e. $175.7M/plane) still gives a price tag of $140.5M/plane.

    Considering this is only the cost of buying it, you will have to add the cost of using it, which, I guess, will be higher than that of any other fighter, just to get a plane featuring useless stealth technology which will be downgraded for export versions.

    The F-35 is a lame duck.

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  25. KeaTiki, I was talking about the URF price:

    https://www.f35.com/news/detail/lrip-6-7-contract-agreements

    The prices that you cite include spares and infrastructure costs, which usually add roughly 30-50% to the unit cost.

    Note also that they have managed to decrease the price by roughly 4% 2 years in a row without increasing the production much.

    Finally, note also that the euro is high vs the CDN$ now. If the Euro doesn't go down, the european fighters will be very expensive.
    What is more important for us is not the price of the F-35 now, but when it is in full rate production.

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  26. Excellent points, all of them!

    Once you get into comparing the fine details of each aircraft, comparisons become increasingly difficult.

    For simplicity's sake, I consider similar systems as equal. I also have to use commonly available information. That's the only way this exercise is possible. It is for fun, after all!

    As you imply, things get a great deal more complicated when you look at the individual strengths and weakness and how the effect each other.

    In the end, I'm comfortable with my scoring here. The Rafale is most certainly the better strike aircraft thanks to its payload, while the Typhoon is the better A2A platform thanks to its larger radar.

    Undoubtedly, if Dassault can find more buyers for the Rafale, the extra funding will do wonders for its versatilty and capability. India is said to be considering outfitting their Rafales with Russian missiles even!

    I honestly don't understand how the Rafale hasn't sold better. By all appearances, it looks like the best "do anything" platform out there.

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  27. Let it be of note that a fighter evaluation is tens of thousands of pages long. You can't understand the requirements of a fighter system from a short, and in this case outdated, extract. GripenEwhipped the Rafale in both Switzerland and Brazil. Also, Doug, check out the news of how Austria can't afford to use its Eurofighters lately. Gets help from the Gripen C's of Hungary.

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  28. Austria having trouble affording their Eurofighters. http://m.kurier.at/chronik/oesterreich/ungarische-gripen-sollen-wien-sichern/71.253.890

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  29. I'm still doubtful Supernova.
    I do recognize that your LM site is very instructive, especially the fact that it gives the price tag of the various F-35 types (without the engine).
    I'd like however to raise two objections.
    On the one hand, the given prices seem, like you said, the URF prices. What's a jet worth if it hasn't got any spares etc... I cannot vouch for the prices that were published in the press. So let's admit the LM URF price tags are correct and the press might have given the price with spares etc... (but this is only an assumption).
    On the other hand, what's a jet without an engine? The price of that engine seems to be kept hush hush. Many articles mention a $1.1Bn contract for 38 engines (of 3 different types), which would put the price at $28.94M/engine, double the price you mentioned before.
    So even at $98M a jet + $28.94M per engine the URF price would be $126.94M !
    Not exactly cheap for a jet that can carry 4 missiles or 2 bombs and is barely stealthy.

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  30. "I honestly don't understand how the Rafale hasn't sold better. By all
    appearances, it looks like the best "do anything" platform out there."

    Well, it's simply that politics play a big role in airfighter choice, maybe even more important than the technical specs of the aircraft. As the CEO of Dassault said, some countries want to buy american, no matter the price or performance.

    I'm quite sure that if the Rafale was called F/A-20 and made in USA, it would be everywhere.

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  31. Of course the URF cost is just part of the cost to field the plane. I was not claiming it was the only thing to take into account. But it was more to compare with the rafale and typhoon URF costs of roughly 100 and 115 million.

    It is the STOVL variant of the engine which costs 28M. The regular engine costs 14 million.

    The F-35A costs 112M (URF) with the engine in LRIP7:
    http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/04/17/f-35-program-production-costs-rise-7-billion/#idc-cover
    "Even though the Pentagon will spend $162 million per aircraft based on current estimates, it doesn’t cost that much today to roll an F-35 off the production line, Bogdan said. Instead, it costs $112 million and he’s hoping to lower the price per jet to a range of $80–84 million by 2019 when full rate production increases to larger numbers of aircraft."

    P&W is going to invest in more cost-effectie manufacturing to lower the cost:
    http://www.janes.com/article/38190/pratt-defends-f135-cost-reduction-strategy-against-pentagon-criticism

    With the exchange rate now with the Euro, the F-35A might not even cost more than a typhoon. A rafale would cost less, but you would have to find a way to integrate the US weapons that the RCAF has. Also the rafale cannot carry the sniper pod. So we would have to either qualify our pods on the rafale or buy new damocles pod at 2 million apiece or so. Plus probably add the cost of CFTs.

    The F-35 has full aspect stealth. Even the interior of the afterburner has been designed for stealth. In a recent statement US General Hostage

    stated that the F-35 can be even more stealthy than the F-22 is certain circumstances.
    Also the F-35 has a more stealthy radar with advanced LPI mode. A rafale or typhoon would have to be very careful to use their radar to not e detected, whereas the F-35 can use its radar in LPI. Regarding the datalinks, the F-35 has a stealthy datalink, contrarily to the other 2.
    The F-35 will be able to carry 8 internal small diameter bombs in 2018 with block 3F, as well as the JSOW. In 2021 or so it will have even more weapon with block4, the SDB2 to attack moving targets, the NSM cruise missile, etc. The Block 4 specs are not definitive yet but they may well chose to integrate 6 internal AMRAAMs. Plus more avionics improvements.
    If our planes are built between 2018 and 2023 or so, we won't have them operational before around 2022, so we will have block 4.

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  32. Just a short answer.
    The price I found was for an order of the 3 types of engine not only the very special STOVL (cf link below).
    18 CTOL
    7 NAVY
    6 STOVL
    2 spares (CTOL)
    Although the article mentions the total number of 38, the figures add up to 33 which would make the average price even more expensive... with an average price tag of $33.33M/engine !

    There's an obvious underestimate of prices.

    Regarding exchange rates all would be fine and well if... they never changed and if the F-35s were an all American jet while the European canards were all "euro-land" productions, which they aren't.
    I wouldn't bet a dime on the euro going up. It's been going slowly down for some time now.

    The Serbs demonstrated the limits of stealth. If stealth really lived up to its promises, wouldn't the US have used its Raptors in combat rather than the F-15 and F-18 ?

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20131023/DEFREG02/310230033/Pratt-Whitney-Pentagon-Reach-1-1B-Deal-F-35-Engines

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  33. Bogdan may say what he wants, when he sends the bill, it's written $162 millions by aircraft, not $112 and certainly not 80. Do you really think that Canada will be able to have F-35 at half the cost the USAF is getting ?!

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  34. What???
    I said that the URF cost is 112 million now. On top of that you have to add all the spares, infrastructure costs, etc, like for any other plane.
    I never said we would get our F-35s at half of the cost the USAF is getting!
    I said that by 2018-2019 the URF cost will almost surely have come down significantly ( -15% at least). ON TOP OF THAT YOU HAVE TO ADD THE SPARES AND INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS DO I HAVE TO SAY IT SINCE IT IS SO OBVIOUS!

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  35. Your article says:

    "The low-rate initial production (LRIP) six contract also includes three CTOL propulsion systems for Italy and two for Australia, the first engines for those partner nations.

    "

    So you have to add those 5.

    Also the 1.1bn for LRIP6 includes additional items:

    https://www.f35.com/news/detail/lrip-6-f135-engines-contract

    "The low rate initial production (LRIP) contract covers 38 total engines, including program management, engineering support, production non-recurring effort, sustainment and spare parts. This agreement represents a significant milestone for the F-35 Program, and reflects the execution of cost reduction initiatives shared by the government and Pratt & Whitney.'

    Here are the unit costs:

    http://www.bga-aeroweb.com/Engines/PW-F135.html

    "$13.95 to $33.96 million (in 2014)"

    13.95 for the conventional engine, 33.96 for the STOVL.

    Another example for lrip3:

    http://aviationweek.com/awin/pratt-assumes-overrun-cost-latest-f135-deal

    "The Pentagon's most recently released engine pricing is from LRIP 3. In that lot, each conventional engine cost about $16 million and each short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing engine for the F-35B was priced at $38 million. Pratt & Whitney vowed to reduce the engine price by 10% in LRIP 4. Company officials refused to provide per-unit pricing for earlier LRIPs or the target cost for LRIP 5."
    I don't know how the Euro is going to change, if I knew I'd be a zillionnaire... Also the price of 115 million for the typhoon (URF) is not for the tranche 3 with the last radar etc...
    Non stealth planes can be usefull in some scenarios, yes for sure. But in the future if you want to penetrate an advanced IADS you'll need as much stealth as you can get. We will have those planes for 40 years so we better make sure we get the best, especially when it doesn't even cost more than the others.
    The only concern is whether 65 is enough for our air defense.
    We can always complain that the F-35 is not enough this or that, it is still the best we can get our hands on.

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  36. While being "outdated" (6 years, seriously?) and maybe biased, the report does confirm A/C performance and pilot workload management for Typhoon as well as Rafale detection, endurance and EW skills.
    When Typhoon pilots say their Man-Machine Interface is wonderful, it's TRUE. When a report is good for Rafale, it's biased... that never gets old.

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  37. Yeah, there are some claims, but nothing pretty clear yet ;)
    I guess we'll know someday the true story.

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  38. Well if you use URF price, use it also for other planes like Rafale... 60 million euros. http://www.senat.fr/rap/a13-158-8/a13-158-814.html

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  39. The French have always had great weapons, the never want to be out classed by anyone.

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  40. I meant outdated in the context of judging the aircraft for the 2020 time frame. As I said, if the contest were to be held now, today... The Rafale would almost certainly be a clear winner.


    The bias comes from cultural factors. Switzerland has a large French speaking population and shares a border with France. Switzerland also has previously flown and even built the Mirage IIIS. French aircraft, specifically Dassault, are likely seen as a "known commodity" to the Swiss air force, much like American aircraft are preferred by the RCAF. Sure, they did fly the Vampire and Hawker Hunter before that, but that was way back in the 50s.


    I can certainly understand any bias towards Dassault, that Mirage III was a wonderful little fighter.

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  41. OK, I understand : when you wrote "now", I didn't think it refers to the "now" of the FJFC.

    "cultural factors" may have played a role, but I don't really buy it : Switzerland is mainly a German-speaking country and Mirage III deal was apparently a not-so-good experience plagued with delays and cost overruns.

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  42. The problem with the Typhoon, it has no AESA radar.

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  43. That or the Gripen. We survived for 25 years with the CF-188 and all its "short comings" during the cold war and we are still here. Both are better planes. I just do not see the Eurofighter being chosen as the Rafale is excellent and they will build and transfer technology.
    I still like the Gripen NG. Zoom zoom and maintenance low. Only concern are pigeons but that does not seem to be an issue.

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  44. From your document in 1 b), it says ;

    "Avant prise en compte du projet de LPM, le coût total du programme pour l'Etat était de 45,9 Mds €2013. Le coût unitaire (hors coût de développement) de 74 M€2013 pour le Rafale B (pour 110 avions) de 68,8 M€2013 pour le Rafale C (pour 118 avions) et de 79 M€2011 pour le Rafale M (pour 58 avions)."
    The rafale needs the dual seater for the strike mission, the F-35 doesn't. So in fact you would have to compare the F-35 to the rafale B, which costs 74M E.
    The US$/Euro exchange rate is 1.36 now, so 74M euro=100.64M $US.
    Canada could get a mix of C and B, but anyways the average unit cost would still be around 95M $US.
    To that we have to add the cost of the targetting pod, roughly 2 million. The damocles is probably not even better than the sniper pod that the RCAF operates.
    This corresponds approximately to what the Indians paid for their rafales, roughly 12Bn US$ for 126 planes, so approximately 95M $US per plane.
    The US weapons that the F-18s carry ( AMRAAM, AIM-9X, etc ) would also have to be qualified. Who would pay for that?

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  45. Not yet, but it will. It will also be a beast.

    Whereas the F-35, Rafale, and Super Hornet have AESA radars with about 1,000 transmit/receive modules, the CAPTOR-E is planned to have about 1,500; the same as a F-22. It will also have a swivel plate giving it a wider field of view.

    The Gripen will get one in the 1,000 range, with a repositioner as well.

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140318/DEFREG01/303180028/First-Typhoon-Flight-AESA-Could-Open-Door-Exports

    http://aviationweek.com/awin/gripen-sensors-claim-counter-stealth-performance

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  46. Nice research again Supernova, but...

    The Rafale has 14 hard points (the carrier version has 13), even if they are not all used for carrying bombs, the French jet could carry quite a load.

    How many F-35s would you need to do the same job with its two bombs inside the internal bay and 4 hard points for pylons outside, wasting what is left of the F-35's doubtful stealth.

    I'll be kind, it looks like 1 Rafale does the job of two F-35s.

    Besides, according to the latest information I found (I'll admit it's not that recent), the US decided not to fund the nuclear capacity of the F-35. If a customer wants it, they'll have to do the job themselves...

    Unlike the F-35, the Rafale can be used to carry nuclear weapons.

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  47. Yes the rafale can carry nuclear weapons, so what? Canada has no nuclear weapons.

    In fact I am French ( and Canadian). When I was in France I did my national service in the Armee de l'air, escadron 1/4 Dauphine, with mirage 2000N for nuclear attack with ASMPs...
    But it's not because I am French that I will lose my objectivity and become a rafale fanboy. The rafale is excellent but the F-35 incorporates more modern technologies and it makes no sense for Canada to get the rafale instead.
    For the first strikes of an air campaign the rafale would use its cruise missiles, which are very expensive, and it can only carry 2 missiles.
    If the rafale wants to enter the enemy airspace, it will need a lot of escort from other rafales configured for air-to-air and SEAD. With F-35s you need much less escort.
    Also the F-35 will probably be better in the SEAD role due to its stealth. And for SEAD missions, you don't need that many weapons.
    The F-35 is not affected much by its payload, its speed is not affected much, as well as its maneuvrability.
    To attack targets like aircraft shelters, the F-35 can use its 8 internal SDBs.
    When the enemy IADS and air force has been destroyed, it can go in with its external payload ( up to 8 x 1000lbs bombs or 4x4 SDBs externally).
    Chances are it will also have external weapon pods at some point in the future.
    I am not saying that the F-35 is perfect either, but it's better than the rafale which belongs to an older generation of plane.

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  48. Canada has no nuclear weapons, that's quite possible. Neither has Belgium, but some nuclear weapons are stored in the Belgian airforce base of Kleine Brogel.
    Unlike you, I'm not French, and objectively, I don't see any cutting edge to the use of the F-35.
    You wrote :"When the enemy IADS and air force has been destroyed, it can go in with
    its external payload ( up to 8 x 1000lbs bombs or 4x4 SDBs externally)." I'm still convinced you're overoptimistic regarding the F-35's stealthiness. Remember Serbia, they didn't need an airforce to shoot an F-117.
    I guess we'll never agree, so I'll stop squabbling. I'm personally convinced, no matter how much software you cram into the F-35, that it's an utter failure.

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  49. Well, you did your homework!
    Very good piece of explanation about AESA radar.

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  50. There is an usual misconception that the Rafale was created as an A2G aircraft whereas the Typhoon was intended to be a pure A2A jet.

    The truth is that both programs goal was to produce a highly agile air superiority fighter with multirole capabilities.

    The difference, is that the French dealt with both aspects from the very begining because they needed to replace their oudated navy F-8 interceptors, and their fleet of pure A2G Jaguar at roughly the same time.
    Therefore they had to work on the A2A and A2G requirements in parallel. This led to a very balanced design with no obvious flaws or unforseen drawbacks in either roles.

    On the other hand, the Eurofighter team had no immediate need to develop the A2G side of the Typhoon as the Tornado (or F/A-18 for Spain) would fulfill that role for many years to come. So they postponed the work on the multirole capabilities to post 2010 era with only minimal advancement being done on the subject between 1994 and 2008.

    This was clearly not the best way to proceed but they didn't really have the choice: During its developpement phase in the 90ies, Typhoon engineers who had a limited experience with highly maneuvering FBW jets spent a lot of time to figure out how to design their Flight Control System properly (contrary to Dassault which had gather tons of experience thanks to 10+ years of flight tests with the aerodynamicaly instable FBW Mirage 2000 and 4000 air superiority fighters). Because of those initial difficulties, the Eurofighter team, eventualy focused entirely on the A2A aspect of the jet to simplify the problems. The result of this today, is a good A2A fightrer but with limited and often dificult to integrate A2G features.

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  51. Gripen E has never whipped anything anywhere. Both Brazil and Switzerland have selected Gripen E purely on costs, both Brazil and Switzerland (politicians and Air Force commanders) have publicly acknowledged that they couldn't afford the best aircrafts and that Gripen E would be just good enough for their needs.


    The Swiss evaluation is still valid, all of the aircraft in this evaluation have evolved but Rafale has maintained his developmental and operational lead.

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  52. I think if France sells the Mistral class ships to Russia, Canada should disallow the Rafale. I can't believe they intend to go ahead with this. It's like Britian building aircraft carriers for Germany in 1938 as it was annexing countries. Now, if they want to throw them in a deal with Rafale to us (they would a great centre to our foreign policy of peace building) I'm ok with that.......

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  53. these prices include 20% VAT which is not charged for export. so the fly away cost would be roughtly 80 M $. NOT 95M.
    Assuming Rafale need twin seater for strike is not true (twin version is preferred for long range operations, which is notwithin F-35 capabilities, or show me a F-35 capable of doing a war operation lasting 10h 45 mins). Tell pilots from Charles de Gaulle carrier (single seater) that they aren't able to do strike missions... Oh wait, remember Lybia?

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  54. By the time that the AESA for the eurofighter will come in service. The Rafale will come out with a new version of there AESA.

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  55. Excellent reply, Yves.

    I guess Lockheed is planning to install stealth toilets in the next F-35. This will come in handy in case of a reactor fire.

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  56. I would be VERY surprised if foreign customers would pay less that the French air force.
    Following this logic, the USAF also probably would pay taxes which would not be counted on foreign contract.
    Again, the unit price (URF) for india was 95M $US (12 billion $US of 126 planes, all the costs for spares, infrastructures come on top of that).
    Canada could get only single seaters, but the Armee de l'Air definitely prefers dual seaters for strike ( mirage 2000N,Ds and rafales ).
    Also french planes have a reputation to be expensive to operate.
    Operation lasting 10h45... Stop talking nonsense.

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  57. Try that against the latest SAM threats, good luck with that. The F-35 is designed to take out those threats.
    The French are developping stealth drones precisely for that kind of threat.
    If the French had to replace their tactical planes, there is not much doubt that they would chose a stealth plane, like everybody else.
    Again stop talking nonsense.

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  58. abstract swiss report english
    http://kovy.free.fr/temp/rafale/pdf/12332.pdf

    some comment on armaswiss report
    http://rafalenews.blogspot.fr/2011/11/switzerland-armasuisewiss-ranked-rafale.html


    Gripen dont get the minimum requirement criteria of armaswiss,


    swiss PM try to negociate politic agrement with France & Germany and ask to forget 80 Billions fraud vs 3 billion of contract, Germany say No, France say No, procedure fraud continu the frauster recovery until is done. it is key point of losing contract for eurofighter or rafale.


    gripen won by default and not by its technical performance,
    (i like the gripen, dont very, it is same level as small M2000 + aesa , for E/F version, i dont know, it is a paper jet, i wait to see first version)

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  59. That report is outdated and it is misleading to keep posting it. The system that the Swiss didn't think met their requirements is the Gripen C. The Gripen E met all the requirements. This has been stated again and again by the Swiss Air Force because of the massive misinformation campaign that the Rafale side is invested in. The Gripen E's systems will be much more modern than the Rafales and the Gripen is a better air to air fighter. The Rafale is much more optimized for air-to-ground. To compare it to a Mirage 2K is very ignorant. The Gripen A is a far more advanced and modern machine than the old Mirage.

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  60. In my opinion Rafale is clearly a better system than Eurofighter. EF is more or less single role andvery expensive to buy and operate. As a multi role platform even the Gripen C is better since it is actually true swing role.

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  61. Air to Ground:

    " Interdiction: Both aircraft carry incredibly advance electronic warfare (EW) suites equipped with jammers, decoys, and the like. Advantage: Tie"

    Difference being that Rafale has more precise RWRs, while Typhoon has towed decoys.

    "Deep Strike: Both aircraft have similar combat radius'. They are also both capable of delivering ALCMs like the Storm Shadow, AASM, or Taurus KEPD 350. Advantage: Tie"

    Rafale actually has slight advantage in combat radius due to higher fuel fraction.

    "The Rafale ultimately gets the edge here, however, as it close-coupled canard design makes it better a better flyer in the "low-and-slow" regime."

    There is also the fact that cannon is THE most important weapon for Close Air Support, and in that area Rafale has huge advantage: its cannon has far more firepower than Typhoon's, and Rafale itself has better control at low speeds than Typhoon thanks to close coupled canard arrangement. So I don't think that Rafale "barely" gets advantage here.

    Air to Air:

    "First look, first kill: Both aircraft have roughly the same IR and radar signature. Both are equipped with AESA radars and IRSTs. The Typhoon has a big advantage, however. Its radar is 1/3rd larger (1,500 T/R modules vs an estimated 1,000) and it is mounted on a repositioner, giving it a wider field of view. "

    Actually, Rafale has lower IR signature due to smaller size and various IR signature reduction measures. Typhoon does have slightly better IRST, wether that is enough to offset the IR signature difference I don't know. Radar is a non-factor since enemy fighter will easily detect it, and I know that Rafale (and maybe Typhoon) can use enemy's radar signals to target enemy aircraft; Rafale however has far more precise radar warning system (1* at 200 km, compared to Typhoon's 1* at 100 km). So Rafale is a "clear winner" here, not Typhoon.

    " Beyond Visual Range: Both aircraft are capable of roughly the same speed as well as supercruise. Both are also capable of mounting the ramjet powered MBDA Meteor. Unfortunately for the Rafale, the Typhoon's better radar and two-way data-link (vs one-way for the Rafale) with said Meteor wins the day here. Advantage: Typhoon."

    Both have Mach 2,0 dash speed and 1,8 sustained speed. But Typhoon does have Mach 0,1 advantage in supercruise speed. As for missiles, two-way datalink is a large advantage, but radar doesn't really matter.

    " Within Visual Range: Again, both aircraft are quite evenly matched. The Typhoon does have a slightly better power-to-weight ratio, slightly better wing loading, and slightly better climb rates, however. The Rafale is really let down by its lack of HMD (helmet mounted display) however, giving the HMD equipped Typhoon a much better chance at lining up a shot. Advantage: Typhoon, clear winner."

    Actually, Rafale has somewhat better wing loading.

    Overall winner in air to air should be Rafale.

    If you are interested in more detail:
    http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/eurofighter-typhoon-analysis/
    http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/dassault-rafale-analysis/

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  62. F-35 is designed for maybe... But is still a prototype while 200th being producted etc. Noone really know its capabilities in the end. On the other hand durig MACE XII NATO exercise, A Rafale flew over a S-300 PMU without problems. Not the very latest version of SAM threats ok, still a threat...

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  63. "Operation lasting 10h45... Stop talking nonsense."

    http://www.clicanoo.re/?page=archive.consulter&id_article=415972



    11hour flight.


    First mission over MAli, 9h 50 mins flight including delivery of 6 AASM each on the way. Want reference?

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  64. No disrespect man but your example is nonsensical. You could attack very easy targets very far that with any plane with air refueling.

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  65. I think you should have factored the higher cost of the Typhoon and the fact that only the four original designing nations build them where Dassault has offered a full disclosure agreement and for Canada to be able to produce its own aircraft now and in the future. Also as I mentioned in an earlier post that Snecma has a much improved engine nearly ready for release which would improve its performance there. Admittedly the HMD and the larger radar are a big advantage, but if Canada was to procure this aircraft stipulations in contract could be made for these things and seeing as how production wouldn't start until 2018 anyways I think the issues would be well in hand by the time we recieved the first jet. Of course this is the Canadian government we are talking about and they make some questionable decisions on a regular basis.

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  66. Indeed. Wish I had seen and read it myself before throwing my hat in. Informative and to the point.

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  67. I hope you don't mind if I quote this.

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  68. I don't quite follow this argument. Since the wingtips are further apart than any other two points (in the lateral direction), they seem to provide a very good baseline for interferometry, resulting in the best possible angular resolution (that's for targets/threat radars in front or behind, if they are abeam, a third sensor is needed which e.g. Spectra has in the fintip-pod, I don't know where/if the Typhoon has it).
    It would seem to mee that motion of the wingtips only gives a slight Doppler shift in your signal which one can easily compensate for.
    What am I missing?

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  69. Yes and No. Second part of swiss eval concerned 2015 capabilities, using MS-21 software. (actually more or less the Gripen NG). On the other hand, there was a risk coefficient applied to technical evaluations and of course it deserved Gripen NG.

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  70. Now saying that Gripen A is more advanced than a M2k-5F is highly dubious. For its first NTGM, Miarge 2000-5 counted 40 victories for one defeat (think it was in not so sure) including Gripen A. Want videos?

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  71. Wingtips provide a better baseline for Doppler shift, you are absolutely right. But when you enter into interfoerometers realms, you also measure the phase shift. As we are talking about cms wavelength, one needs to know the exact position of a sensor vs another, with mm accuracy. Wingtips move from each other. Maybe there are now systems that allow correction, but not that i am aware of.
    PS. Atm DASS do not use interferometry. Gripen NG should, i don't know about incoming evolution of DASS. Btw there is an interesting article about european EW suites evolution in the last Av Week.

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  72. Note that the Rafale cost at least (dunno about the EFT) includes the French VAT of aboute 20%, which doesn't apply to exports.

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