Comparing options for Australia

Some claim that Super Bug is a better solution than F-35 is… some claim that it is not. So I have decided to carry out point-by-point comparision between F-18E and F-35, throwing in Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale C as examples of modern Western fighter, as well as possible alternatives.

What makes this comparision even more important is the fact that United States, Canada and Australia all have similar operational requirements and as such have very similar requirements for a fighter aircraft – for example, long range, twin engines and reliability.

Source for F-35 data is here.


Aircraft F-18E F-35A F-35B F-35C EF-2000 T2 Rafale C
Length 18,31 m 15,7 m 15,6 m 15,7 m 15,96 m 15,27 m
Wing span 13,62 m 10,7 m 10,7 m 13,1 m 10,95 m 10,8 m
Height 4,88 m 4,6 m ? ? 5,28 m 5,34 m
Wing area 46,5 m2 42,7 m2 42,7 m2 62,1 m2 51,2 m2 45,7 m2
Weight with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM 18 721 kg 18 208 kg 18 491 kg 21 043 kg 14 427 kg 11 850 kg
Wing loading
– loaded 458,5 kg/m2 526 kg/m2 506 kg/m2 410 kg/m2 312 kg/m2 307 kg/m2
– 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM 402,6 kg/m2 427,9 kg/m2 434,2 kg/m2 338 kg/m2 284 kg/m2 259,3 kg/m2
Thrust-to-weight ratio
– loaded 0,94 0,87 0,9 0,75 1,15 1,1
– 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM 1,07 1,07 1,05 0,93 1,28 1,3
Maximum AoA 55* 50* 50* 50* 70* 100*
– dash M 1,8 M 1,6 M 1,6 M 1,6 M 2 M 2
– combat configuration dash ? M 1,6 M 1,6 M 1,6 M 1,8 M 1,8
– cruise M 1 M 0,95 M 0,9+ M 0,9+ M 1,8 M 1,8
– combat configuration standard cruise ? M 0,9 ? ? M 1,6 (est) M 1,6 (est)
– combat configuration supercruise N/A N/A N/A N/A M 1,3 M 1,4
Combat radius 722 km 1 082 km 868 km 1 139 km 1 389 km 1 852 km
Max G (standard) 7,6 9 7 7,5 9 9
Max G (override)* 11 11
Max G (airframe) 11,4 13,5 >=10,5 11 12,6 – 13,5 16,7
Max G reached in tests or use ? 9,9 ? ? 10,6 11
Instanteneous turn rate (max) 24 deg/s <14 deg/s ? ? 30-35 deg/s 32-35 deg/s
Sustained turn rate (max) 15-18 deg/s <12 deg/s ? ? 20-25 deg/s 24 deg/s
Roll rate (max) 120 deg/s 300 deg/s ? ? 240-250 deg/s 270 deg/s
Flyaway cost 60 000 000 197 000 000 237 700 000 236 800 000 118 600 000 82 300 000

*can be exceeded through changes to FCS


Maneuverability is a sum of several factors: lift, thrust, drag, and inertia. Lift, thrust and inertia can be compared through wing loading, thrust-to-weight ratio, and weight; drag can be compared by comparing airframes’ physical size.

Turn is executed when aircraft uses control surfaces to change wing’s position relative to the air flow; thus, direction in which lift pulls aircraft is changed, producing excess lift (one not used on keeping aircraft in the air), which then pulls aircraft around the turn. Aircraft with lower wing loading have more excess lift on disposition, and as such can pull faster and tighter turns. Aircraft pulling tighter turn at corner speed has better chance to evade missile fire and can pull inside opponent’s turn diameter.

Roll is when aircraft rotates around longitudinal axis. Aircraft with faster roll can transit from one maneuver to another faster.

Thrust-to-weight ratio is important for overcoming drag during the turn, allowing aircraft to maintain energy and turn rate for longer time.

Drag bleeds off energy, thus reducing time during which turn rate can be maintained.

Inertia is a product of weight and speed. When entering or exiting a turn, aircraft has to use lift and thrust to counter inertia. Thus, heavier aircraft are, assuming identical wing loading and thrust loading values, more sluggish in maneuvering combat.

G-load is required so that aircraft does not fall apart during the turn. What it means is that, even if (aerodynamically) aircraft could turn faster at certain speed, it is limited by what its structure can take.

As we can see from the table, Super Bug is superior in both wing loading and G factor to two out of three F-35 variants. It also has superior thrust-to-weight ratio to all F-35 variants when loaded for air combat, and only F-35A has comparable thrust-to-weight when at 50% fuel. It is, however, slightly heavier than most F-35 variants, which means more inertia and thus worse response time.

Eurocanards, meanwhile, are superior to both Super Bug and F-35 in all listed areas. Rafale fares better in wing loading and thrust-to-weight ratio areas than Typhoon does, mainly by virtue of its higher fuel fraction, and its close-coupled canards allow it to achieve highest AoA value of all compared aircraft, which greatly benefits its low-speed agility. Only characteristic where F-35 is superior to Eurocanards is roll rate, mainly due to its shorter wing span.

Situational awareness

Here, Super Bug is convincingly the worst of the compared aircraft, as it lacks IRST. As such, it has to use its radar to detect the enemy, immediately betraying its location at far longer range than it itself can detect the opponent. All three other aircraft have IRSTs of, apparently, roughly comparable characteristics.


Here, Super Bug takes last place again. Rafale has the best range, owing to its good aerodynamics and high fuel fraction. Whereas some F-35 variants have comparable or better fuel fraction, their low speed and large aerodynamic compromises required by stealth mean that range is lowered considerably, and is worse than that for Eurofighter Typhoon, which itself has low fuel fraction.

Weapons loadout

Standard weapons loadout for all listed aircraft is 2 Sidewinders and 2-6 AMRAAM. However, F-35 has no option of carrying more without compromising its already questionable X-band radar stealth, whereas other aircraft don’t go to such legth to achieve LO characteristics, relying instead on other approaches (maneuverability + countermeasures + passive sensors). Thus, F-35 is limited to 4 missiles if it doesn’t want to loose radar stealth, whereas Super Hornet can carry 6, Eurofighter Typhoon 12 and Dassault Rafale 8-10 AtA missiles. In non-LO configuration, F-35 can carry 10 missiles.

In bombing missions, F-35 can carry 2 AtA and 2 AtG weapons in LO and 4 AtA and 8 AtG weapons in non-LO configuration. Super Hornet can carry 4 AtA and 7 AtG weapons. Typhoon can carry 7-9 AtG weapons, assuming all stations are cleared for use. Rafale can carry 4 AtA and 5-16 AtG weapons.

As F-35 has to rely on LO, its AtA and AtG weapons loadouts are the worst. If LO requirement is ignored, weapons loadout improves considerably, but only to the point of being barely comarable to that of far lighter Eurocanards in AtA configuration; in AtG configuration, assuming one weapon = one pylon, it is the best of compared aircraft, in keeping with its design role of a bomber.

Cost and battlespace presence

As it is obvious, situation is not good for F-35: for a cost of the 12-aircraft squadron, one can buy 19 Typhoons, 28 Rafales, or 39 Super Hornets. All three aircraft, especially Eurocanards, are likely to be less maintenance-intensive than F-35, and can thus generate more sorties per aircraft, thus increasing numerical disparity even more.

Per-aircraft, Super Hornet requires 10 maintenance hours per flight hour, Typhoon requires 9 and Rafale 8 (? Typhoon and Rafale figures have to be confirmed), meaning that bought aircraft will generate 85 1-hour sorties per day for Super Hornet, 45 for Typhoon and 74 for Rafale. Aforementioned 12-ship F-35 squadron will most likely be able to generate 7 to 8 1-hour sorties per day. However, Rafales and Typhoons will have better survivability when facing both VHF-radar SAMs and IRST-equipped enemy aircraft than either Super Hornets or F-35s.


Neither F-35 or Super Hornet are good choices for Australia; former is too expensive, too maintenance-intensive, too short-ranged and lacking in maneuverability, whereas latter is far cheaper to buy and operate, and easier to maintain, but is also lacking in range and maneuverability. All options considered, Dassault Rafale would be the best choice, followed by the Eurofighter Typhoon. However, with Dassault having secured contract in India, it is questionable wether acquirement schedule for Australia could be accomodated, in which case Typhoon becomes the strategically better choice.

43 thoughts on “Comparing options for Australia

  1. Are these ammounts in Australian Dollars? You have to be carefull with these numbers because some aircraft don’t include some subsystems or other costs, aircraft price comparison is a hard thing to do. But your technical evaluation looks interesting though. . Why didn’t you include the Gripen E and F-16V? Because these aircraft should (in my opinion) be candidates to. With the coosing of the JSF Australia (and its airforce) declared they don’t realy need 2 engine aircraft, its not legitemate anymore.

    If you can choose the JSF why not other (cheaper) alternatives?

    Maybe you could integrate these aircraft also in your comparison? Because now it looks like you are writing to your own prefered candidates. And thats not good (just as it isnt good to write to candidate JSF)


    1. 1) Prices are flyaway costs in US dollars.

      2) I thought about including Gripen, however I didn’t have place and Gripen is a single-engined aircraft so I am not sure it is an option for Australia. F-35 was chosen due to the US pressure, not military needs or technical concerns. In ideal table, aside from Gripen, I’d also put in Su-35, and I’m not sure table would be readable with two more aircraft.


      1. Hello Mr Picard578,

        I think that even flyaway costs are mixt up because every manufaturer has its own way of price lists. But I can asume it will have spares and engines included? Ground equipment? But what spares?

        Thanks a lot for your answer. You could have taken only the F-35A numbers because as far as I know Australia isn’t looking at the F-35B and C, right? So than you could make some room for Gripen and SU-35…

        Im not sure but isn’t India building their own Rafale aircraft? So I gues that You could do the same or otherwise France could beef up there production line because its now operating at a minimum cappacity.


      2. 1) Flyaway cost is, by definition, a cost to produce an aircraft. However, even that is often not a final cost as many capabilities can be delivered separately (external pods, for example). However, it is the best way to compare costs of manufacture of aircraft, although it will also depend on wages etc. But unit procurement cost is even worse way, as it contains R&D and production-line-setup expenses.

        2) Thanks for suggestion.

        3) Deal between France and India is that France will produce and deliver an initial batch of 18 aircraft, and remaining 108 will be produced locally.


  2. Just saw this post now…i dont agree:The Rafale cant use US made weapons that AU uses…and dont forget that its an expensive turkey…the best option is…the F-15 Strike Eagle…


      1. Its a fully capable fighter,and much better than the rafale at that.
        1-Dont forget that the most pressing need was to replace the F-111.Natural replacement is the F-15 X Strike Eagle…
        2-Even in the Strike Eagle configuration the F-15 is far more capable in air-to-air than the Rafale…in particular if it is in a «fighter configuration» without the CFTs…USAF pilots that fly the F-15E without the CFTs have said its a monster without the extra weight(in talking about the last batch with superior engine).
        3-The Rafale is a mediocre Strike fighter,because it cannot penetrate modern air defenses…it lacks stealth like the F-35 and it cannot fly low and fast like the F-111 because of its low wing loading…it simply as a very high wind gust responce.It can only perform strike missions on higher altitutes than the F-111/F-15E being useless agaist anything other than Talibans.
        4-Its AESA radar is allready inferior to todays American designs in service and it yet to enter in service(Never mind that the SE as the best radar in the world)
        5-It lacks an HMS
        6-Inferior top speed and weapons load to intercept bomber/cruise missiles…


      2. 1,2 – Strike Eagle is optimised for strike, yes it is modification of very capable AtA platform but it still has several modifications – such as being twin-seater – which harm its AtA capability. Now, I believe Australia asked for F-22, which would be wierd if requirements were just for strike aircraft.

        3 – Rafale can penetrate modern air defenses better than F-35; SPECTRA is quite good defense system, whereas F-35 has to rely on stealth, and if it is detected it is dead. You are correct about ability to fly low and fast, but unless I’m mistaken, Australia is also concerned with air superiority, and there Rafale is far superior to F-35 (any modern fighter is superior to F-35 in that area, really).

        5 – Rafale already has HMD, but it is avaliable as an optional equipment.


      3. @ picard578,

        The air superiority component inherent in the base F-15 design carries over into the F-15E models. Due to the designs of low-wing loading, the manoeuvrability is not sacrificed (when carrying CFT’s and full weapons load) allowing the aircraft the ability to complete tight turns without much loss to airspeed. So the F-15E and other advanced Strike Eagle variants would have the advantage in a dogfight, while designed for ground attack, retains the air-to-air lethality of the F-15A-D models, and can defend itself against enemy fighters.


  3. 1-2 crew members,4 eyes…bouth have HMD in lattest configurations…better for interception of bombers/cruise missiles.Without CFTs and with the lattest engines it can outperform the Rafale…
    2-They asked information on the F-22 and outher fighters as a replacement for bouth the F/A-18 and F-111 at a time when it was called the F/A-22…lol.Remember that?When it was known that it had almost no air to ground capabilities their interest whent away…
    3-No it cant…when modern russian SA-XX have lock on jamming,and powerfull radars imune to jamming(you said it not me)you either fly low and fast or you are stealth…Rafale cant do either things…
    The F-35 flyes better at low altitudes(remenber the bigger WL?),it can jam(and fry according to some texts)incoming SAMs with its AESA radar…and then theres this from wikipedia«The AN/ASQ-239 (Barracuda) system is an improved version of the AN/ALR-94 EW suite on the F-22. The AN/ASQ-239 provides sensor fusion of RF and IR tracking functions, basic radar warning, multispectral countermeasures for self-defense against threat missiles, situational awareness and electronic surveillance. It uses 10 RF antennae over the leading and trailing edges of the wing leading and trailing edges of the horizontal tail.[296»
    And this«The F-35’s electronic warfare systems are intended to detect hostile aircraft, then scan them with the electro-optical system to allow the pilot to engage or evade the opponent before the F-35 is detected.[299] The CATbird avionics testbed for the F-35 program has proved capable of detecting and jamming F-22 radars.[307]»
    As for you opinion on the F-35 being inferior to outher fighter in AA combat,your opinion is 35 years out dated…i recomend reading this:


    1. 1-First part is correct, but it can’t outperform Rafale in AtA, which is what I was talking about.
      3-Radars are not immune to anti-radiation missiles, and while VHF radars are far harder to jam, it is possible that dedicated jamming platform may be able to do something. Theoretically.

      F-35 is better strike aircraft, but numbers do matter, and in that area F-35 sucks. As for your link, F-18 is definetly not aircraft with exciting maneuverability, especially compared to modern aircraft. I don’t have time to pick everything that’s wrong with that post right now, so that’ll wait.


  4. 1-Yes it can outperform the Rafale…In the electronic departement its probably 20 years ahead of the Rafale…In kinetic performance…well if the costumer wants it it can have new engines,conformal weapons bay and FBW…and i do remenber the Eagle having record breaking climb speed(literally)…
    So ,the Eagle has better sensors,better weapons,better performance,better ECM,better range…where does the Rafale beat it i dont know…
    2-VHF radar is a publicity stunt…it does not work as advertised…against stealth or non VLO aircraft its just useless for anything else than early warning…VHF GCI cant even direct precisely fighters against B-52s…never mind SAMs vs F-22/35s…and its worthless against big bat wing bombers…
    3-WHAT THE…the F-18?Its about the JSF and its performance and how that applies in todays world of HMSs and modern AAMs…please just read it…SMSgt Mac even explains you the literature were he based is researh…


    1. 1-Rafale has one of most advanced EW suites, its passive sensors suite is one of better in the world while Eagle doesn’t even have IRST. Rafale also has better gun and missiles, is more maneuverable, easier to maintain and has lower IR signature.
      2-Serbs killed one F-117 and damaged another by using VHF radar.
      3-I have read it and it did nothing to change my views of F-35.


  5. 1-You should read more about current aircraft…From Combat Aircraft monthly Vol 14 No 2 February 2013(i have here in my hand while i write this):The F-15 of the USAF WILL mount an AN/AAS-42 IRST pod affixed to weapon station 5.It will have a Digital Electronic Warfare System from Bae(DEWS)and a Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System(EPAWSS)…
    -Better gun yes…with less ammunition and a less accurate 30mm shell.But i agree it gets top RPM faster and as more punch…worst missiles,worst range,worst damage resistance,worst climb speed,worst top speed,worst performance at high altitude(better at low altitude low speed),worst radar,worst IRST,worst acceleration,WORST PRICE,less reliable,MORE MAINTENANCE HEAVY(yes it is:))…
    2-Uau…They were able to hit 2 aircraft at 13 kms that followed the same route day after day and break radio silence…uau …on the outher hand they could even do that to gripen that did the same bad job from further away…or use an old SA-7 Grail and just whait there for the plane to pass…Since the SAM-3 can be remote detonated and there is a human in the guidance loop ,you could direct the missile visualy to the plane and detonate it in close to target…
    3-It should change youre views on modern air combat not just the JSF…


    1. 1-IRST pod is not internal IRST, it is usually optimised for air-to-ground work, which means different wavelengths etc.
      2-“Worst missiles” in what way? Rafale also costs far less than F-35, and is easier to maintain than F-15, and especially than F-35.
      3-They did detect F-117 by using VHf radar and directed IR SAM towards it.
      4-Air combat was and is WVR.


      1. 1-Pod means that it has a bigger field of view…and its based on the IRST of the F-14D Super Tomcat…so its air to air…not ait to ground…its also easy to chance for other equipment…
        2-Mica missiles are inferior to the AMRAAM in BVR(range,technologie) and inferior to the AIM-9X in WVR(bigger,less maneuverable).It costs 125 million dollars…the most advanced Eagle you could buy is 100 million…
        3-From Wikipedia:«Unknown to NATO, Yugoslav air defenses operators had found they could detect F-117s with their “obsolete” Soviet radars after some modifications.[2] In 2005 Colonel Zoltán Dani in an interview suggested that those modifications involved using long wavelengths.[3] In addition, the Serbs had also intercepted and deciphered some the NATO communications, and thus were able to position their anti-air batteries at positions best suited to intercept NATO planes.[3]»
        More« According to Dani in a 2007 interview, his troops spotted the aircraft on radar when its bomb-bay doors opened, raising its radar signature.[6]

        The F-117 was being flown by Lt. Col. Dale Zelko,[2][7] an Operation Desert Storm veteran.[8] He observed the launch of two missiles and saw them approach his aircraft. The first passed over him, close enough to cause buffeting, but did not detonate. However, the second missile did detonate, causing significant damage to the aircraft and causing it to tumble, out of control. The explosion was large enough to be seen from a KC-135 Stratotanker, flying over Bosnia.»
        3-The F-35 is a new approach to WVR combat…it tryes to engage enemy fighters in a new way…will it work or not we will see…but it better than turning fights with mutual kills by modern IR missiles…


      2. “In the evening, Dani’s P-18 long-distance radar set malfunctioned at 19:05, almost the same time when four F-117s prepared for take-off from Aviano Air Base to attack targets in Belgrade. The repaired P-18 radar returned to air by 19:50 and started to emit at the specially modified lower frequency. >>Lt. Col. Dale Zelko’s plane (tail number 82-0806) and three other F-117 flying northbound were acquired at 20:40 local time and so the SA-3 battery’s fire control radar went on air to provide a riding beam for V-601P missile launches.<< The UNV radar emitted at high frequency for 2 x 20 seconds, but it was unable to obtain a lock on the targets.
        Lt. Col. Dani then ordered a third illumination round, against his own rulebook, but knowing that NATO lacked immediate counterstrike capability on the particular occasion. Lock was obtained and at a distance of 13 km and an altitude of 8 km. Two SA-3 missiles were launched in short succession, with one obtaining a proximity fuse hit, as notified by an automatic radio pinger burst. The F-117 was structurally disabled by the sudden minus 6G negative load and stall-crashed in inverted position in an agricultural field, near the village of Budjanovci. The pilot ejected successfully and was rescued later on by NATO Combat search and rescue helicopters. The F-117's large kite-shaped titanium engine outlet heatshield is still kept by Dani in his garage."

        Also from Wikipedia, but probably not as heavily edited by stealth fanboys as F-117 page.

        As for other:
        1) Modern AtA combat will be either IR or nothing.
        2) I see. I'd still rather use MICA IR than AMRAAM for BVR…
        3) F-35 is suicidal approach to WVR combat.


  6. -I didnt get you first post from wikipedia…it says the same as mine…same story and facts…no IR missile used…same missile i said , same things…
    As for your facts:
    1-Everybody uses radar guided missiles from Europe to China,from Russia to the USA…so you are wrong…Radar guided missiles will be used for sure…i could say they wont work,and i would disagree but respect your opinion…but IR or nothing?When ALL fighters in the world carry twice as much Radar guided missiles?I will bet one or two radar guided missiles will be used…
    2-Why?AMRAAM can be silent until enemy fighter is in his NOZ…or fired in MAD DOG mode in WVR and have a much bigger NOZ than the MICA…
    3-And entering a turning fight with HMSs not?bouth fighter will kill each outher…much better to fire over the shoulder and leave…or die…


    1. Except that they didn’t notice F-117 only when its bomb bays opened, they noticed multiple F-117s with their bomb bays closed.
      1-At beginning of World War II, everybody believed battleships to be ultimate naval weapon and measure of naval power. In World War II, only one aircraft carrier was sunk by surface artillery from battlecruisers, whereas aircraft carriers sank several battleships while under way, including two largest battleships in the world, and many more were sank by aircraft carriers while in harbors. But it were slow, “vulnerable”, dirt cheap and numerous submarines and torpedo boats that did most damage. As for what I said: it is IR or nothing. Surprise is as important as ever, and if you use radar, you allow opponent to detect you and prepare a surprise of his own. If opponent A uses radar, opponent B will simply use EW suite to get his IR missiles close enough to opponent A for IR missiles to engage.
      2-AMRAAM uses radar. Mica IR uses IR photodetector. That is why.
      3-You really don’t get it, do you? In WVR, F-35s stealth is useless. Modern aircraft still can evade IR missiles if they can turn, and >>especially<< if missile itself is forced to turn even before locking on to aircraft, as missile spends energy. That is assuming that aircraft has good G capability… 12 G maximum turn capability is norm for modern fighter aircraft. But F-35 can't turn. It can't evade missile. If it "fires over the shoulder" as you suggest, it will leave opponent enough time to return the favor, especially opponent that has HMS and HOBS capability. And F-35 can't leave either. It has maximum speed of Mach 1,6, which is well below even armed Eurocanards.


    2. @ Nuno Gomes .
      fire over shoulder , and leave.
      F-35 running out on anyone. whoa you took it too far.
      may be EFT can catch up with it without ever having to use it’s afterburner.


  7. You forget to mention how proud the B-2 crews were proud when the serbs said they were hit by cruise missiles … lol they didnt have a clew what really hit then…
    1-Battleships are expensive,but very usefull…they were obsolete in the 1950s only to be brought back in the Vietnam war…then obsolete again in the 1970s only to be brought back in the 1980s…now obsolete again…DDG-1000?
    2-You forget that the AMRAAM as lock on jamming…so bring it on with your EW…in fact i wouldnt be surprised if the AIM-120 would have some secret «James Bond» feature were it could lock on to active radars while being passive…also the lauching plane can be passive and data link and active radar belonging to a 3th plane…MICA as 2 versions,IR AND active radar…
    3-No it is not…NATO pilots claim they cannot even get gun tracking with the F-22 in front of then…
    You forget about data link and lock on after lauch capability…the F-35 sees everything 360 around it and it updates the missile…also this is trained in DACT…multiple salvos of missiles …the plane dodges the first and bleeds energie…get hit with second missile…
    Also,no air combat ever took place above MACH 1,6…and allmost all fights happen bellow 30000 ft…that is why this was the requirements for the LWF(F-16) and for the JSF


    1. 1-Battleships were useful in shore bombardment, not in mission they were supposed to be unbeatable (sea control)… submarines were far more strategically useful than either battleships or aircraft carriers.
      2-And you forgot that IR BVR missiles exist, as does capability to use passive sensor suite to target an active opponent… you don’t need radar for BVR shot if your opponent is using it.
      3-F-35 can carry four missiles at most. Even WVR missiles have Pk that is around 0,15. And F-35s requirement was strike, not transonic combat as it was with F-16.


  8. 1-True,but my point was that they are still needed an neglected
    2-True…even the latest version of the AIM-9X as a range of 35km…there is talks about a block 3 version with even bigger range
    3-Four in the first blocks…then six AMRAAMs…or 12 CUDAs…


  9. A question: What´s the difference between the two groups “combat configuration standard cruise” and “combat configuration supercruise”? Both are stating, that the aircraft cruise at a speed over M 1 (in case of EF and Rafale) under the condition of a weaponload.


    1. Standard cruise is in afterburner (but obviously not full power, that is dash as it can’t be sustained for longer time), supercruise is without afterburner. Combat configuration means that aircraft is carrying air-to-air weapons (4-6 MRAAM and 2 SRAAM being standard for most aircraft, with exception of F-35 which can only carry 4 missiles in weapons bays).


      1. Ah, ok.
        I just got confused by the term “cruise”. As I understood it, the use of afterburners was always an action which could not be executed over a long period of time. So that´s it. thank you!


  10. Dear picard578

    Have you seen this information – Why Australia Should Retain Its F-111 Fleet.

    I had a look at the “Quick Look” comparison for the F-35, the graphic showed the F-35 has fuel fraction (for yes/good parameter) in green. I discovered the F-35’s Large Internal Usable Fuel Load is very inefficient, it was claimed No, <18 lbs MINUS fuel for thermal cooling (-1). So the F-35 variants fuel fraction is no better comparing the some other aircraft.

    Comparing options for Australia. I agree that neither F-35 or Super Hornet are good choices for Australia; former is too expensive, too maintenance-intensive, too short-ranged, small weapons load and lacking in extreme manoeuvrability.

    It's been claimed Australia really needs high capability fighter with two engines. Other options been considered on the table, Australian specialised F-15E+ development program…the F-15AU or Su-30 family of aircraft to replace the 71 F/A-18A/B "Legacy" Hornet fleet.

    The analysis has shown on APA on Assessing Russian Fighter Technology that these aircraft shown below:

    The other production Boeing fighter is the F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet with its much vaunted APG-79 AESA radar. The Su-35BM/Su-35-1 outperforms it on all cardinal parameters, including radar range, but excluding the somewhat academic measure of clean radar signature – academic since in combat external stores must be carried by both fighters.

    Lockheed's F-16E / Block 60 subtype with AESA and conformal fuel tanks is not competitive against the Su-35BM/Su-35-1 on any parameters, the Sukhoi cleanly outclasses it across the board.

    The Lockheed-Martin F-35 JSF will be outclassed in all cardinal performance parameters, with the exception of radar signature when the JSF is flown clean with internal stores only. That advantage may also be entirely academic if the Flanker is networked with low frequency band radar to cue it to the JSF. It is also not entirely clear whether the radar signature of the export variants of the JSF will be low enough to deny lock-on by the powerful Irbis-E at useful missile ranges.

    The Eurofighter Typhoon with AMSAR will compete with the Su-35BM/Su-35-1 in terms of close combat agility and dash speed, but it does not have a decisive advantage in systems and sensors and cannot match the radar range of the Irbis-E, and will not match a supercruise engine equipped Flanker.

    The Dassault Rafale share many qualities with the Typhoon, but is smaller, and much the same comparisons apply to the Su-35BM/Su-35-1.

    The SAAB Gripen, although not mentioned in the category. I view the Gripen shares many similar qualities of the F-16, the Su-35BM/Su-35-1 on any parameters, will cleanly outclass the Gripen across the board.

    There is also another reason, small fighters with short range are considered an acceptable compromise required to fly short distance missions which are only ideal for smaller air forces in Europe, some Asian/South American nations to operate them. Because they are surrounded by the large vast land areas, and more surrounding air bases (for any emergency situations e.g. hydraulic or engine failures). They can be equipped with either single or two engines (Depending on the actual range varies with mission).

    For Australia to have single engine aircraft doesn't make sense for the requirements. At the time Australia had 116 Mirage IIIO/IIID aircraft and lost 41 fatalities. Their was on-going controversy over the Mirage's safety record still persists at time of writing. It was heavily utilised, operated at extremely low altitude in any weather, saturated airspace infested with low flying birds, rolling hills, antennae's, many other high speed aircraft and gun firing which caused surges to the SNECMA Atar 09C turbojet which resulted an engine failure.

    Although most or none of the F-16 or Gripen aircraft suffered any engine failure, (except there were first two accidents for the Gripen occurred in 1989 and 1993; which these were related to flight control software issues, one aircraft was destroyed in a ground accident during engine testing) while modern engines are very reliable, the loss of the engine over water guarantees the loss of the F-16, Gripen and JSF, and also requires that the search and rescue assets commit to support any operational deployment of F-16s, Gripens and JSFs.

    You can find the losses of the RAAF Mirages in the ADF Serials website To place the F-16 or the Gripen in the exact environmental circumstances as in any of the Mirage's accidents, and it too would have as high an attrition rate. If you place the twin-engine aircraft in the same situation the rate would be at least halved.

    Twin engine design was considered a critical need when the Legacy Hornet was chosen and for all the same reasons a twin engine design is critical to the over water mission where the danger of bird, debris ingestion or ice ingestion can result in loss of an aircraft. Australia has entirely different operational needs, as most roles involve long range or long endurance missions over water.

    The Typhoon, Rafale, F-16 and Gripen are absolutely fantastic aircraft no doubt about that. Is just that Australia needs to include a bigger fighters to counter the Flanker threat and smaller fighters can counter MiG-29/35, J-10, JF-17 threat.

    Ok if we compare the examples of the late model AESA equipped F-15K/SG/SA subtype against the late model Su-35BM/Su-35-1, both likely to be rolled off a production line at the same time, these Flankers will either match or outperform these F-15s in much of the flight envelope, especially at transonic speeds. With the AL-41F engine the Flanker will be able to sustain decent supersonic speed on dry thrust, giving it an energy advantage throughout the envelope. How much supercruise capability the hybrid AL-31F-117 series engine will provide remains to be seen? With conformal fuel tanks the F-15 will have comparable range to the Flanker with external PTB-2000 drop tanks. Equipped with the Irbis-E the Sukhoi will achieve a first look / shot capability over the F-15 with an APG-63(V)2 AESA radar (soon the F-15E will be equipped with the new APG-82 AESA). In terms of EWSP capability, the Sorbstiya jammers will deliver better EIRP than the legacy ALQ-135 series (soon to be equipped with the EPAWSS or Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System, giving the F-15 a 5th generation edge), and the Khibiny-M will be comparable to the ALR-56M series. An area of uncertainty is how much of their newer radar signature suppression technology the Russians will incorporate in export Flankers?

    For more information about the EPAWSS

    At $100M (est) per plane, the F-15 may seem expensive but when all costs vs performance are reviewed, X vs Y vs Z are not the same. The F-35 lacks the lethality of the F-15. It’s been stated by those in the discussion thread the F-15 provides, longer range/endurance, better agility, bigger weapons load and speed benefits that the F-35 albeit extremely expensive and other small fighters albeit cheaper price tag cannot match. In turn, many of the new enhancements such as the fly by wire flight controls, and the availability of F110-GE-132 or under development F100-PW-232 engines with 2D or 3D thrust vectoring nozzles which should keep operating costs at or below the known costs.

    In performing an overall summary, the Flanker will outperform or match the F-15 in most cardinal parameters and capabilities.

    Also the Sukhoi has approached US-aligned Australia back in 2002, offering Su-30 family of aircraft, and the Su-35 targeted as the prime "export" fighter, with the cheaper price tag of US$40 million to $65 million (estimated).

    Other information – Assessing the Sukhoi PAK-FA – Chengdu J-XX [J-20] Stealth Fighter Prototype A Preliminary Assessment – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet vs. Sukhoi Flanker – Sukhoi/KnAAPO Su-35BM/Su-35-1/Su-35S Flanker – Sukhoi’s Su-35S – not your father’s Flanker

    P.S. awesome website with great detail analysis

    Your sincerely

    Another Guest (from Australia)


    1. “So the F-35 variants fuel fraction is no better comparing the some other aircraft.”

      Depends on variant, F-35A (which is most numerous variant and so I use it whenever I am comparing F-35 to other aircraft, just like I use Rafale C for same purpose) has fuel fractio, according to my data at least, of 0,38. That being said, fuel is just part of the problem, F-35 has huge drag and gas-guzzling engine.

      “The Lockheed-Martin F-35 JSF will be outclassed in all cardinal performance parameters, with the exception of radar signature when the JSF is flown clean with internal stores only.”

      If they know F-35 is nearby, Flanker pilots will rely on IRST and RWR. How dangerous will that make Su-27 to F-35 depends in part on former’s RWR capability. If it gets interferometric aerials such as those on Rafale, it will be able to use F-35s own radar to engage it at beyond visual range.

      “The Dassault Rafale share many qualities with the Typhoon, but is smaller, and much the same comparisons apply to the Su-35BM/Su-35-1.”

      Rafale has less drag and higher fuel fraction than Typhoon, so it has longer range.

      “Su-35BM/Su-35-1 on any parameters, will cleanly outclass the Gripen across the board.”

      Gripen, especially NG, will have lower IR signature and will be more maneuverable than Su-35.

      “To place the F-16 or the Gripen in the exact environmental circumstances as in any of the Mirage’s accidents, and it too would have as high an attrition rate. ”

      It won’t be anywhere as high as Mirage’s accident rate, modern engines are designed to “eat” birds, but it will be higher than that of twin-engined fighters for sure.


  11. @ picard578,

    Have you seen these videos. These footages are from the REPSIM Pty Ltd. – H3 MilSim – F-35A v Su-35S – Simulation showing F-35A vs Su-35S Pt 2 of 6 – Simulation Showing F/A-18F vs Su-35S Pt 3 of 6 – Simulation showing F-22A vs Su-35S Pt 1 of 6

    You should see the results of how all the x24 Super Hornets got decimated against the Su-35s during the BVR and WVR engagements. The similar scenario also applies to the Joke Still Flying (JSF).

    “F-35 has huge drag and gas-guzzling engine”.

    Indeed. Also the exhaust nozzle of the F-35 will be extremely hot and like you said gas guzzling. The back end of the F-35 in full afterburner is something like 1600 degrees (Fahrenheit). In terms of temperature, aluminium combusts at 1100. You are talking about something really, really hot. If you have got a dirty big sensor on the front of your Su-35S or your PAK-FA or whatever, it lights up like Christmas lights and there is not much you can do to avoid it. And the plume, because of the symmetric exhaust, is all over the place. It is not shielded, it is not ducted in any useful way. The Sukhois will be able to seek and destroy the F-35 when using the heat seeking BVR AA-12 (R-77) Adder AAMs.


  12. Thinking about this, Canada seems to be in the same boat. Sadly our very corrupt government still wants the F-35, although it’s no longer the certainty that it was. It’s under heavy debate and criticism.


  13. I personally favour energy fighting , thus , it’s really depended on the mentality of RAAF doctrine. If RAAF go for a sword and shield (two fighter approach), I do favour a EF-2000 & F-15SG combination, but if RAAF elected a single fighter approach, I would elect a Rafale and F-18E/F F414-EPE package. I especially favour the EF-2000 kinetic performance (high T/W ratio) as an interceptor and the F-15SG punch as a strike fighter. From a Chinese web site I saw the news of termination of the F-18 production line due to the political pressure, Rafale seems to be the only option for a single fighter approach, however I’ve never favour the close couple canard configuration for a first line Air superiority fighter due to its energy bleeding once employed. All in all F-35 is the worst. as foot note, if RAAF can substantially upgrade its air lift capability, JAS-39NG would be a favorable option since Australia should not in any way short of flat plains.


    1. “however I’ve never favour the close couple canard configuration for a first line Air superiority fighter due to its energy bleeding once employed.”

      Close coupled canards actually improve L/D ratio, which means less energy bleed for same turn rate.


  14. Sadly since this article, they’ve gone the JSF route.

    I just hope that Canada does not make the same mistake.


    1. I think most likely it will too.

      The only other options are the Eurocanards – although the France, Sweden, and the Eurofighter makers are selling their planes aggressively to Canada. So too is Boeing with it’s larger Hornet.


      1. Super Hornet is not a different version of Hornet, it is a completely different aircraft, or is the F-18C/D being offered?

        Likewise, the F-35A/B/C are different aircraft under a single name. Kinda like Rafale and stillborn Novi Avion.


      2. I think that they only sell the Super Hornet nowadays. They still make parts for the older F-18 in service but otherwise you cannot buy new one. Right now, Canada has the older Hornet, although they have done quite a bit of customisation for it.

        It is almost as big as an F-15. But it has some serious problems with wing drop that they only resolved by sacrificing performance even more.


    2. It is sad in many ways that Canada has become so dependent. Back in the 1950s, Canada had been prototyping it’s own interceptor.

      It was called the Avro Arrow. It was cancelled. There was also a custom engine designed specifically for it which at the time of its development was the most powerful in the world.

      Still, if a nation like Sweden can make the Gripen, I think that a lot of things are possible.


    3. Australia, Norway Canada … have been pressured by the USA with quite agressive diplomatic threats . Choosing the F35 will be a political decision not rational one. The real loosers will be tax payers and pilots.


  15. “Thus, F-35 is limited to 4 missiles… whereas Super Hornet can carry 6”

    I’m curious; what’s your source for the Super Hornet info? The legacy Hornets are capable of carrying 10 AMRAAMs plus a pair of Sidewinders in a pure AtA configuration, so I don’t see why the Super Hornet couldn’t carry at least as many.


    1. Configuration used is standard configuration. Rafale for example can carry 10 missiles plus two fuel tanks, but standard loadout is 6 missiles plus 2-3 fuel tanks. Super hornet can carry 12 missiles plus 1 fuel tank if it uses double loading (2 missiles for each underwing hardpoint), but standard loadout is 6 missiles (2 wingtip, 2 underwing, 2 conformal) + 2-3 fuel tanks. F-35 can carry 10 missiles. Gripen C has standard load of 6 missiles, which IIRC is actually its maximum load as well.


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