Poll: Best air superiority fighter

17 thoughts on “Poll: Best air superiority fighter

  1. Most interesting will be the opinions outside of this blog, as I think most readers within this blog have formed and stated their conclusions already.


  2. I do not know what Picard wants with the poll; can you actually learn something about such polls?

    I guess it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as he included three planes which do not fit the title of the poll: two are Russian, not Western (the Sukhois Su-30 and 35), and one is not air superiority (F-35).


  3. I guess for me you have to give some parameters.

    First lets say this will be for pure air superiority with other roles already covered by other aircraft.

    I would say you must include need to do said mission both over friendly territory and in heavy IADS defended airspace.

    Lets also say we have a budget that restrains our acquisition.

    As we stand today for my sole air-superiority fighter I would choose Gripen C. The NG is still not fully developed and price looks to be considerably higher then C.

    If it was a set number of aircraft with limited ability to invest in upgrades I would choose Rafale. Especially if I had to fight tomorrow.

    If it was set number of aircraft and I had a budget for integrating IRST (and no immediate battles looming) I would choose F-22.

    Just because I did not choose Eurofighter as winner in any does not mean it is not very close behind in all considerations.

    Flanker upgrades probably would do better in multi-role comparison. Especially if you could swap in some western equipment.

    F-35 (with its stealth aspects and avionics) will be a very good strike fighter. Probably most capable aircraft in strike mission in IADS environment once fully developed.

    In real world, I would cancel F-35 save the money and invest in next generation.


    1. Nonsense. There is no best or worst without some quite strict set of constraints. For any set amount of money, you probably can get more planes in the air for more hours with more training with the Gripen.


      1. All reasons why I also voted for Gripen.

        We seem to be agreeing too much. Something must be wrong. I am going to have to re-analyze this Gripen love fest thing we got going.


      2. It was a joke. Its okay to agree. Especially after much time spent disagreeing. agreement is the long-term goal of course.

        But, I do believe its easy to fall into trap of complacency and overlooking of faults when everyone is agreeing on something.

        More comes out of respectful disagreement and debate then when we all agree.


  4. As France has around ten times the resources of Sweden, especially in aviation and software, and the longest tradition of military aviation (Ader’s steam powered “avions” were financed by the French military, back in the Nineteenth Century), one would expect the Rafale to update more readily than the mythical Gripen NG.

    Once all the old F15s, F16s and F22s break down, from old age, the undisputed American air superiority fighter will be the F35. (Supposing it does not burst in flames on the runway…)


    1. That simply does not follow. Yes, the Rafale is a superb plane, and so far France has executed its program perfectly, unlike the equally capable Eurofighter Typhoon. But it is still a much more expensive type to build and fly; with the Gripen one has, for the same amount of money and human resources, much more training hours and combat availability. And the NG is not mythical in any way; it proceeds as planned, with little delays and detours from the plan. Granted the basic project is older than the Rafale, but it is being brought up to date with the NG.

      The most probable as of now seem to be that the US will eventually have to rush a new project to supply the immense gaps the F-35 and F-22 failures and cost will leave in military capabilities. A pity current administration does not believe the US need these capabilities, and the former one created the issue in the first place. Here’s hoping Ted Cruz or whomever will be able to dismantle the disfunctional Pentagon bureacracy responsible for these and other débacles such as the M-1, not to mention the Bradley, the M16A1, the F-111, the F-4A…


      1. The Swiss People rejected the Gripen NG in a referendum. A decisive argument was that the cost projection for the Gripen NG program (initially rolled out to seduce the Swiss), were not to be believed.

        My solution to the developing catastrophic situation with the F35, is to produce in the USA the Rafale NG. I don’t think that’s humiliating, but pragmatic.


      2. Actually it is a bit more complicated than that. As usual in such acquisition processes, there was a lot of misinformation, and in the end what tipped the balance was the naïve idea promoted by the ‘Suisse sans armée’ (Switzerland without an army) group that Switzerland did not need a decent air force, because it had no credible threat and could make do with current planes until cheaper, safer drones would be available. Obviously, it was before Russia invaded and partitioned Ukraine, and before Isis generated a huge flow of refugees threatening to destabilise the Near East with high risk of contamination of the Balkans.

        I agree the Rafale would be better than what the US current has, but I think the Gripen E would be even better; or rather a combination of them, if possible, to reproduce the F-15/F-16 combination. Having two types may not be interesting neither to Sweden nor to France but could work for the US. Unfortunately, the Pentagon bureacracy would rather save face and create new types by themselves. As Boeing is partnering with Saab for the new trainers, perhaps someone else could partner with Dassault or EADS and we could end up with US versions of Rafale NG and some form of Gripen G/H for the US, but I would not hope for that; at best, that they can find new Boyds & Spreys to rehash the Fighter Mafia attitudes, if perhaps not precisely the same ideas.


      3. I am not a fan of Cruz and most of his social/economic principles. I am not a fan of any politician. But, flat tax, governing based on religious views, Carpet bombing, etc. Those are just too much for me.

        I like what Bernie stands for but he is also a bit naive in believing that government run programs will work in the US as in Sweden. He is also a bit of a bleeding heart and may not understand the roots of poverty and the effects of income based welfare as I do. I have been surrounded by “poverty” my whole life. First personally, and later through my professional work.

        Other than due to mental illness or drug addiction, poverty in the US is false poverty. Its really what I would call poorer but not poor. The biggest issue is not economic poverty but social/educational poverty and stagnation (lack of upward mobility).

        I do totally agree that DoD needs to be cleansed of current upper level staff and strong anti-corruption measures need to be put in place to keep the next group of DoD leaders from becoming corrupt. It will be difficult without a massive popular movement due to power of defense industry in Washington. I am starting to see signs of this movement 🙂

        The technology base exists (and we all know funds are plentiful) to be able to design, develop, and manufacture the best of the best. Its an issue of industrial manipulations which desire not to be tactically superior but to extract as much $$ as possible from tax payers.


      4. I do not know enough of Cruz to be a fan or a critic — only mentioned him as the first name of a precandidate that came to my had. Granted I could have said Clinton as well, but I do not believe Democrats, at this point, are interested in armament; but then Republicans seem to be just as blind as to the necessity of Pentagon reform. I totally ignore if any precandidate, from either party or independent, reckons the failure not only of the F-35 but of the whole process and culture of military procurement.

        This may be one of those instances where there is too much money to do any decent work. Perhaps a more serious financial crisis combined with some real threat could drive truth home, whichever party or whomever President is at the White house.

        I do not even know who Bernie is.

        Agree about poverty. Nowadays this is true not only for the US but for all the developed world and quite a bit of the developing world. It is a failure of culture, not of economics per se.

        Good to know about the signs of change. Could you point to more on that? But I fear it not be so easy to fix as it may be more an issue of corruption, but of systemic and deep-rooted incompetence. You know the quote attributed to Napoleon (actually a reworking of a phrase by Goethe): ‘do not presume bad faith when incompetence explains enough’, or something the like.

        Agreed about resources existing, only that one does not need the best ­— often one needs the cheap, the robust and the easily-maintained. Even if money seems plentiful at the moment.


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