Aircraft combat presence comparision

Aircraft combat presence = total sorties per day = aircraft bought for a cost * sortie rate

Aircraft bought for 1 billion USD (using flyaway costs):

F-22: 4

F-35A: 5

EF-2000 T2 Luftwaffe: 9

EF-2000 T2 RAF: 8

EF-2000 T3 RAF: 8

Rafale C: 12

Rafale M: 11

F-15 A: 23

F-15 K: 10

F-16 A: 38

F-16 C: 16

YF-16: 62

F-18: 14

Gripen C: 25

Gripen E: 18 – 27

Sorties per aircraft per day:

F-35A: 3,5

F-35B: 6

F-35C: 4

(above figures are USAF estimates and are not reliable)

F-22: 0,5

F-35A: 0,6 (estimate)

EF-2000: 2,4

Rafale: 2,7

F-15: 1

F-16: 1,2

F-18: 1,2

Gripen C: 2,2

Gripen E: unknown, assuming 2-2,5

Total sorties per day for number of aircraft:

F-22: 2

F-35A: 2,5

EF-2000 T2 Luftwaffe: 21,6

EF-2000 T2 RAF: 19,2

EF-2000 T3 RAF: 19,2

Rafale C: 32,4

Rafale M: 29,7

F-15 A: 23

F-15 K: 10

F-16 A: 45,6

F-16 C: 19,2

F-18: 16,8

Gripen C: 55

Gripen E: 36 – 67,5


As it can be seen, it is absurd to suggest that stealth aircraft are strenghtening defense of any country. In fact, more stealth aircraft means weaker combat capability, due to far smaller number of aircraft, as well as number of sorties single aircraft can perform in certain time, as opposed to the non-stealth aircraft. It is failure to find the balance between cost and performance that leads to the weaker defense, and F-22/F-35 projects can be rightly blamed for reduction of USAF’s combat capability.


2 thoughts on “Aircraft combat presence comparision

  1. Hi Picard578

    I have a real world scenario question.

    Denmark has just today committed to led NATO have four F16s available for their mission against IS in Iraq. Denmark is sending seven F16’s to have four available.

    Denmark is considering to buy F35A, F18 Super Hornet or Eurofighter Typhoon to replace the F16s. Saab was also in the competition with Grippen NG – but decided to withdraw from it.

    How many F35s, F18s or Typhoons would Denmark have to send to have four available? (or even the Grippen)
    How many percent more expensive (or cheaper) would the maintenance cost be?

    The F16s are Block 50/52.
    140 personel are being deployed for the F16s
    I do not know the number of sorties per day – only that Denmark is sending seven to have four available.

    Kind regards


    1. “How many F35s, F18s or Typhoons would Denmark have to send to have four available? (or even the Grippen)”

      It is hard to give a simple answer since a lot depends on logistical capabilities and the way aircraft are used in the air force, but if I take the best-case avaliability, then it would need 5 Gripens/Rafales/Typhoons, or 11 F-35s. No idea about the F-18s. However, these aircraft also have different payloads (F-35 is the worst) and sortie rates (2,2 hours per day for Gripen, 2,7 (?) for Rafale, 2,4 (?) for Typhoon, and

      “How many percent more expensive (or cheaper) would the maintenance cost be?”

      Again, it depends, but direct operating cost per flight hour are (FY2012) 4.700 USD for Gripen, 7.000 USD for the F-16C, 16.500 USD for Rafale, 18.000 USD for Typhoon and cca 36.000 – 48.000 USD for F-35. To that you have to add fixed overheads, such as base maintenance etc (these overheads also vary – generally, lower direct operating costs also mean lower overhead costs – but they may not be proportional to direct operating costs).

      “I do not know the number of sorties per day”

      If we go by US numbers in Desert Storm, 4 F-16s avaliable will likely fly 4-5 sorties per day.


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