The top ten dog-fighters of 2015 (WVR fighter assessment) UPDATED

F-18_HUD_gun_symbology Tactics, training and luck are the determining factors in who survives within visual range aerial combat. Despite the modern emphasis on beyond-visual-range combat, the vast majority of fighter versus fighter engagements have taken place at close ranges. The following ten are the best fighters for this mission. The order is more or less arbitrary, with different aircraft having the advantage at different altitudes and air speeds. By its nature, any top ten is simplistic and should serve as the basis for discussion rather than as a conclusion.

 

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10. McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15 Eagle

Aggressor at Red Flag Alaska

Once considered top dog, the F-15 is now making room for younger aircraft. In exercises, the type still does well, but this says more about the pilot quality than any inherent advantage of this platform in the WVR arena.  Well-armed, well-equipped and powerful, it is still an aircraft to be respected. In later exercises against India, it is reported to have been able to use superior tactics to defeat Su-30s, despite the Russian aircraft enjoying greater manoeuvrability at low speeds. Powerful and reliable, and flown by some of the best fighter pilots in the world (in USAF service), it remains an adversary worthy of great respect, especially at medium altitudes.

HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMs: Yes, AIM-9X, Python 4/5

Visual stealth: Poor

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Very good

High alpha performance: Poor

Sustained turn rates: Good (16 degree/sec)

Instantaneous turn rates: Good (21 deg/sec)

9. Chengdu J-10

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Rumours from China describe the J-10 performing well in DACT exercises against the far bigger Su-27/J-11. With a maximum G-rating of +9 / -3 and a maximum sustained turn load of 8.9g, the type has demonstrated impressive performance at several public airshows. It scores highly on turn radius, low visual signature, low-speed capabilities and also has excellent pilot vision.
HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMs: No, at present only PL-8

Visual stealth: Excellent

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Good

High alpha performance: Good

Sustained turn rates: Good

Instantaneous turn rates: Good

8. General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16

IDF Israeli Air Force American F-16

The Viper remains potent at the mission it was designed for: the close-in dogfight. The Viper has grown fatter with age, so the early Block aircraft are the most spritely, this combined with JHMCS and modern missiles, like the AIM-9X, Python 5 and  IRIS-T keep it a foe to respect. It is small and hard for its opponents to keep visual tabs on, it has an impressive turn rate and has better retention of energy than larger-winged peers like the Mirage 2000. Below 10K feet the F-16 is similar in performance to the Typhoon. Most F-16 models have a better thrust to weight ratio than the Super Hornet (when similarly equipped). The Python 5 is regarded as one of the best air-to-air missiles, it has a very large weapon engagement zone (WEZ) and a high resistance to countermeasures. According to one defence writer close to the UK Typhoon force, RAF pilots had greater respect for the F-16s than the Gripens that they have encountered in wargames.

HMD/S: Yes, JHMCS

Advanced SRAAMs: AIM-9X, Python 4/5 and IRIS-T

Visual stealth: Excellent.

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Good

High alpha performance: Good

Sustained turn rates: Good

Instantaneous turn rates: Very good (26deg/sec)

(If all this is too modern for you, have a look at the Top Ten World II fighters)

Was the Spitfire overrated? Full story here. A Lightning pilot’s guide to flying and fighting here. Find out the most effective modern fighter aircraft in beyond-visual range combat. The greatest fictional aircraft here. An interview with stealth guru Bill Sweetman here. The fashion of aircraft camo here. Interview with a Super Hornet pilot here. Most importantly, a pacifist’s guide to warplanes here. F-35 expose here

 

7. RAC MiG MiG-29

Image

Despite its age the MiG-29 remains a fiercely capable dogfighter, sharing many of the weapon systems of the ‘Flanker’.  The Indian MiG-29K/KUB with the TopOwl helmet-mounted and R-73E is the best-equipped variant in the WVR scenario, but is normally limited to 7G, whereas land-based ’29s are 9G capable. When the MiG-35 enters service it will be the most agile fighter in the world in the low-speed regime, as anyone who has witnessed the physics defying antics of the MiG-29OVT will testify. Though thrust-vectoring, post-stall manoeuvring must be used very carefully to be effective, the MiG-35’s unsurpassed power -to-weight ratio should ensure it recovers lost energy states quickly. The tough structure offers a degree of battlefield protection according to MiG who have assessed the type’s performance in actual wars. According to at least one MiG-29 pilot, the type enjoys a small, but significant advantage over the F-16 in the merge. One USAF F-16C pilot (Mike McCoy of the 510th) who flew BFM against MiG-29s noted, “In a low-speed fight, fighting the ‘Fulcrum’ is similar to fighting an F-18 Hornet…But the ‘Fulcrum’ has a thrust advantage over the Hornet. An F-18 can really crank its nose around if you get into a slow-speed fight, but it has to lose altitude to regain the energy, which allows us to get on top of them. The MiG has about the same nose authority at slow speeds, but it can regain energy much faster. Plus the MiG pilots have that forty-five-degree cone in front of them into which they can fire an Archer and eat you up.” Luftwaffe MiG-29 Oberstleutenant Johann Koeck who flew against F-15s, F/A-18s and F-16s in extensive training exercises noted,” Inside ten nautical miles I’m hard to defeat, and with the IRST, helmet sight and ‘Archer’ I can’t be beaten. Period.”

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HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMsNo, but R-73 is still highly regarded. R-74 in the pipeline.

Visual stealth: Medium (poor in early versions due to smoky engines)

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Excellent

High alpha performance: Excellent

Sustained turn rates: Good

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent (28deg/sec)

6. Saab Gripen

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Lose sight, lose the fight‘ is an old dogfighting adage and it is very easy to lose sight of the tiny Gripen. Though not the most powerful fighter, it is agile, well-armed and gives its pilot good situational awareness. Some Gripen operators employ an advanced helmet-mounted sight in conjunction with IRIS-T missiles, a sobering prospect for potential adversaries. The IRIS-T is a highly regarded weapon, with excellent agility and target discrimination. The helmet-sight is an adaptation of the Typhoon helmet, the most advanced helmet in operational service. The Gripen preserves energy very well, is hard to spot and has the smallest IR signature of the fighters on this list.

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(Top Ten Swedish aeroplanes here)

Helmet Mounted Display/Sight: Yes: Cobra

Advanced SRAAMs: IRIS-T

Visual stealth: Excellent

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Good

High Alpha performance: Good

Sustained turn rates: Excellent

Instantaneous turn rates: Very good

5. Dassault Rafale

Image

The Rafale can maintain higher Alpha manoeuvres than the Typhoon.  It is very agile, with an excellent man machine interface and the most advanced aircraft cannon. Like most carrier fighters it is docile in the low speed ranges that most within-visual-range fights take place at. Whereas The Typhoon excels at high speed high-altitude maneuverability, the Rafale excels at low speed and low altitude, though its high altitude performance has also impressed French pilots. At sea level, the Rafale is reported to have a superior instantaneous turn rate to Typhoon. One pilot who has flown Rafale, and is knowledgeable of the Typhoon’s performance, claims that below 10,000 ft it would ‘eat Typhoon’. The Rafale lacks a helmet-mounted sight and its high alpha performance is inferior to that of the Hornet family. The Rafale has reportedly done well in DACT exercises against the F-22. The Rafale is an extremely tough opponent in the WVR regime. MICA has an LOAL capability allowing targets in the ‘six o’clock’ to be engaged.

HMD/S: No

Advanced SRAAMs: Yes, MICA

Visual stealth: Medium

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Very good

High alpha performance: Very good

Sustained turn rates: Very good

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent (especially at low level)

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4. McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet

aircraft-planes_hdwallpaper_f-18-hornet_83825

The Bug family have excellent nose authority, JHMCS  and good missiles in the form of AIM-9X (or ASRAAM for RAAF legacy birds).  At low level they are the equal of any operational fighter, but at higher altitudes (and higher speeds) they are at a disadvantage against more modern aircraft like the Typhoon, Rafale and F-22. The legacy Hornet is 9G rated as opposed to the larger Super Hornet which is stressed up to 7G for normal operations (it is really the legacy F/A-18 that deserves this high ranking but the Super Hornet is also highly regarded in the ‘merge’).  It has been noted by F-16 pilots that Super Hornets lose energy quicker than Vipers at higher altitudes. In a slow fight, no Western fighters can match either the Bug or the Rhino. One pilot who has flown the Super Hornet recommended that I mention the ‘Turbo Nose down’, a manoeuvre which utilises the aircraft’s excess power to rapidly push the aircraft out of high alpha flight. Australian Hornets have demonstrated an 180° missile shot with the AIM-132, firing the missile at a target in the firing aircraft’s 6’o’ clock in the lock-on after launch mode. The so-called ‘Parthian Shot‘ is a defensive boon, but demands a wingman with nerves of steel and faith in the technology!

Read more about flying the Super Hornet here and here.

(For the sake of brevity the two F/A-18 family members share one entry.)

HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMs: ASRAAM, AIM-9X

Visual stealth: Medium

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Good

High alpha performance: Excellent

Sustained turn rates: Good

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent

3. Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon performing during the Airpower in Zeltweg, Austria

Wild turn rates, a true 9G performance and enormous excess power make the Typhoon a hell of a dogfighter; the highly regarded G-suits worn by Typhoon pilots increase tolerance to the high forces generated by the energetic Typhoon. It also features the most advanced helmet mounted sight in service (and the newer Striker 2 is, according to one independent tester, ‘superb’), a powerful cannon and the excellent IRIS-T and ASRAAM missiles. The combination of advanced missile and helmet imbue the Typhoon with a terrifying off-boresight missile shot capability. Testing of the Aerodynamic Modification Kit, which includes modified strakes, extended flaperons and mini-leading edge root extensions may go some way to rectifying Typhoon’s main limitation – a pedestrian high alpha performance. But the Typhoon is not an ‘angles fighter’ like the F/A-18 which relies on risky (as they drain energy quickly) but startling attacks in the merge; the Typhoon is an ‘energy fighter’ using its phenomenal ability to preserve energy in a dogfight to wear its opponents out. In short, if an opponent doesn’t get a Typhoon on his first attack he is in a very dangerous position as a large amount of excess thrust makes the aircraft a very energetic adversary.

In exercises against Indian Air Force, RAF Typhoons used their superior energy and acceleration to ‘reliably’ trounce Su-30MKIs.

F-22 pilots who ‘fought’ the Typhoon in DACT were impressed by its energy levels (especially in the first turn) and several Luftwaffe aircraft proudly displayed Raptor ‘kill’ silhouettes beneath their cockpits.  Like the Raptor, the Typhoon has such a formidable reputation that any ‘victories’ against it in training exercises make excellent boasts. At medium to high altitudes, the type is generally superior to the teen fighters in the WVR regime. According to one Typhoon pilot, its dog-fighting abilities are a close match to the Raptor’s, but Typhoon benefits from being smaller and better armed.

HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMs: ASRAAM, IRIS-T

Visual stealth: Medium

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Excellent

High alpha performance: Poor

Sustained turn rates: Excellent

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent

2. Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor

Image

The Raptor’s excellent power-to-weight ratio, low wing-loading and 2D thrust-vectoring make it a fierce opponent in the visual range dogfight. It is let down by its elderly short range air-to-air missiles, lack of helmet-mounted sight and its large size. The internal carriage of its AIM-9M limits the way they can be used, and it only carries two. According to Typhoon pilots who ‘fought’ against it, the Raptor loses energy very quickly when employing thrust vectoring. The Raptor pilot likes to keep the fight high and fast. The F-22 has never been seriously challenged in wargames or DACT exercises- though the WVR regime is not its strongest card it is still extremely hard to beat, to the point that any ‘kills’ scored by pilots against the Raptor become newsworthy. Its pilots are, outside of adversary units, probably the best in the world.

HMD/S: No

Advanced SRAAMs: No

Visual stealth: Poor

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Excellent

High Alpha performance: Excellent

Sustained turn rates: Excellent  (28 deg/sec at 20K ft)

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent

1. Sukhoi Su-35 

13_11_08_27_sm

The Sukhoi Su-27 is no slouch in the dogfight, and this advanced derivative is even more potent; the fighter, which is now in service with the Russian air force in small numbers, benefits from an additional 7,000Ibs of thrust combined with a variety of refinements. The Su-35’s engines, at maximum reheat, generate a staggering 62,000Ibs of thrust, which when combined with the ‘Flanker’ series superb aerodynamic configuration and vectored thrust nozzles, create an aircraft unparalleled in low-speed manoeuvrability. Whereas the F-22 relies on two-dimensional thrust vectoring, the Su-35 utilises 3D nozzles and a robust flight control system that have been perfected over the last thirty years.  A Su-35 (ably demonstrated by Sergei Bogdan) held the crowds of Paris 2013 spellbound with its demonstration of dramatic post-stall manoeuvring.

The biggest question mark with the Su-35s within-range combat effectiveness is the degree to which the enormous thrust and robust engines aid energy preservation. The Su-35 unique abilities will require unique tactics – if flown by well-trained pilots, the Su-35 will prove a worthy adversary to any in-service fighter in the vicious world of the low-speed furball.

HMD/S: Yes

Advanced SRAAMsR-73E/M

Visual stealth: Poor

Thrust-to-weight ratio: Excellent

High alpha performance: Excellent

Sustained turn rates: Excellent

Instantaneous turn rates: Excellent

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So there we have it, or do we?

I asked a fighter pilot (with experience of flying most of the ‘4.5 generation’ fighter aircraft) his opinion on my top ten selection; he was keen to dismiss such a crude approach:

“It is complicated to discuss this issue in just a few words, but in order to produce a new look analysis on WVR, you should think about gyroscopic vs needle ‘driving styles’ (and the capabilities needed to play this or that, of course). So, you will pass through power-to-weight ratio, rudder surfaces, flying characteristics across different flight levels, etc. Until you get to the crucial area of energy management (that sifts the ace from the targets). It is all a question of control of the part of the egg you want to keep the fight, and well-trained pilots with good tactics will always try to keep the fight in a corner where they have some advantage. We’re not talking about an UFC card! It is team work.

The tactical egg is an imaginary bubble that represents all possible motions of an aircraft in a dogfight, showing the effects of gravity on the aircraft’s manoeuvring. Of course, new weapons (with the ability to lock-on after launch), helmet mounted sight, etc. are making the job much more complex.

Conclusion: This question requests hours of conversation and a dozen beers! ;)”

Thank you for reading Hush-Kit. Our site is absolutely free and we have no advertisements. If you’ve enjoyed an article you can donate here– it doesn’t have to be a large amount, every pound is gratefully received. If you can’t afford to donate anything then don’t worry.

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If this article infuriated you, try our top ten BVR fighters here

follow my vapour trail on Twitter@Hush_kit

(I won’t bore you with the standard disclaimers regarding reading too much into leaked DACT gossip).

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51 comments

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Carrier Fighters 2014 | Hush-Kit
  2. Sebastien Clavier

    You set Typhoon #1 but it lost 7-1 in dogfight vs Rafale (ATLC in UAE, Nov. 2009)
    Moreover, in 2014 (and since 2012) Rafale has an AESA active radar, what doesn’t have the Typhoon.

  3. Sebastien Clavier

    What are your criteria to compare the planes?
    Are you taking into account the electronic warfare systems (SPECTRA and DDM-NG for Rafale) ?
    The Rafale can fire a MICA missile at a target located at position six o’clock (behind the aircraft) without changing flight direction, what can be useful in dogfight.
    A G-suit as a decisive advantage for the Typhoon? Of course Rafale’s pilots have one, and the plane also have a 29° tilted seat for G-protection.
    http://www.defesanet.com.br/rafale/noticia/10893/Shooting-Down-an-Aggressor-on-My-Six–Vive-la-difference-/

  4. Sebastien Clavier

    Compared to the Typhoon, Rafale’s closer-coupled canard configuration gives it a better manoeuvrability at slow-speed, so in dogfight.

    • Hush Kit

      Hi Sebastien,
      The general consensus is that the two aircraft are very closely matched. Rafale has an advantage at lower altitudes and Typhoon at higher altitudes. The absence of a helmet-cueing system on Rafale is a disadvantage. Regarding the extreme angle LOAL missile launch or ‘Parthian Shot’ (including 6 ‘o’ clock shots) mentioned in your other comments, this is also possible for Typhoon. Of course neither is absolutely superior, they both have advantages and disadvantages as mentioned in the article. Typhoon has a lower wing loading and greater power, Rafale higher angles of attack and (at least according to one pilot) has better ‘feel’.

      • Hush Kit

        Dear Mr Monkey/Snow, Thank you for your carefully crafted and remarkably well-informed analysis. It is so common nowadays to read the ill-informed rants of the barely literate, so your mini-essay is a much-needed breath of fresh air. I am however slightly alarmed that you are sharing the classified exercise results that you are privy to, and that this may be a breach of the security laws of several nation states. If you had taken even a few minutes to research what you are talking about you would have realised that our article on BVR fighters does indeed factor in situational awareness and EW. Might I respectfully suggest you crawl back up the shabby forum that spawned you? If you are a child I apologise for my rudeness, but politely suggest your Internet access is more tightly policed by your guardians. Yours gratefully, Hush-Kit

  5. Alez

    Su-35 is fully-operational now. Russian airforce already induct several numbers in its fleet. Is it better than Rafale in WVR engagement?

  6. Mike

    According to Typhoon Pilots
    “The Raptor looses energy very quickly if using thrust vectoring”

    But did anyone bother to interview the Raptor pilots?

    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/in-focus-german-eurofighters-impress-during-red-flag-373312/

    “USAF sources say that the Typhoon has good energy and a pretty good first turn, but that they were able to outmanoeuvre the Germans due to the Raptor’s thrust vectoring. Additionally, the Typhoon was not able to match the high angle of attack capability of the F-22. “We ended up with numerous gunshots,” another USAF pilot says.”

    Furthermore according to
    Britain’s DERA, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (now split into QinetiQ and DSTL)

    At supersonic velocities (Mach 1.6 and 36,000ft) the sustained turn rate of the Eurofighter betters all but the F-22, while its instantaneous turn rate is superior to the F-22. At low altitudes, Eurofighter can accelerate from 200kts to Mach 1.0 in under 30 seconds. In a similar vain to its supersonic performance, the sustained and instantaneous subsonic turn rates of the Eurofighter are bettered only by the F-22.

    Read here:
    http://typhoon.starstreak.net/Eurofighter/tech.php

    So the Raptor is acknowledged by the Brits to be more maneuverable than the EF typhoon.

  7. Phranque

    I like the post and appreciate your attention to detail in the summaries. However, I think you underestimate the F-15. In scenario training every aircraft will lose certain scenarios. When left to do what it does best, unrestricted dog fighting (such as spin up training for fighter weapons school applicants), it is still an absolute monster that consistently shreds opponents. Red Flags instructors in F-15’s have to employ the tactics and performance of the aircraft they are simulating, however when air force units get together for DACT without the limitations, Eagles still clean up. I know of two Viper pilots who don’t like talking about their experience with FL ANG units. They claim that since all C model eagle drivers do it A/A they they have to be good at it. (Don’t even mention that they are Guard Units, very sore subject) Which brings up another point. Any aircraft on this list that is tasked with a multi mission existence will be hampered in a dogfight by a pilot who spent some number of hours dropping bombs while the Eagle Driver spent that time sharpening his talons. Hence F-15E losses. Lastly, the Mig-29 losses so god damn always in real world fights that I am surprised to see it here at all and amazed it is ranked higher than the F-15. 10 victories (I don’t count the UAV or the Cessna Skymaster as victories) to 20 losses. Meanwhile the F-15A/C has 104 to 0. Yes I’m an F-15 fanboy because it is proven, not a theory that it may be good.

  8. Alex

    This top is riculous rafale is the Best with the f22 in fights of abou dhabi in a air show eurofighter lose 4/0 vs rafale ! And why there wtf with this f18?

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  10. pakistan

    when its come to match these aircraft in dogfight mode from my point of view first place for su 35 then euro fighter,f22,gripen,f 16,j 10,f 15 ,f 18,su 30 and mig 29 is not a very good dog fighter aircraft it should not be mentioned with these flying machines

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    • globalmilitaryobserver

      It is about time the F-22 had something to dog fight with although without a HMD it cannot use the missile to its full effectiveness.

      Onto this article, all planes with a high end off-bore-sight capability, image seeker equipped missiles etc and a helmet mounted sight combination should be at the top of the list. There is no comparison for a plane that does not have these features so the list would look like;

      1- Eurofighter Typhoon. Any Dogfight with a Typhoon means the opposing pilot made a huge error at some point but as far as this article is concerned we have assumed that mistake has been made. Both the ASRAAM and IRIS-T are amazing off-bore-sight, high maneuverable missiles with what I like to call “eye” seekers (imaging) but the Typhoon also has a HMD and the canopy allows for a clear view around the aircraft. Missiles like ASRAAM in particular have extreme ranges between 3-50 miles meaning regardless of angle and distance the Euro can launch and kill any opponent.

      2- Su-35 . I put this here over the Gripen because Sukhoi family aircraft as this article outlines are known for their maneuverability, if its possible to avoid AIM-9X, ASRAAM and IRIS-T it is likely that this plane is the one to do it and make no mistake, the AA-11 was why the west realized it had to step up its game on its WVR missiles. Whether the Russian sensor fusion is up to par with modern western designs is yet to be seen but the aircraft is robust and has good armament.

      3- Gripen. Smaller than the Typhoon, helmet mounted sight AND IRIS-T? Deadly little plane but the only reason I put this below the Su-35 is because it is not as powerful or as well armed as the other two higher on this list. While the Euro and SU can carry betwen 10-13 weapon systems, the Gripen only carries 8. Staying power in a dogfight is very important, chances are your opponent did not come alone, planes fly in squadrons. If your missiles do not all find their targets due to ECM or amazing maneuvering you have fewer to fire while your opponent has a lot more.

      4-6- Legacy era US planes, I will just generalize here, all of these legacy era planes are going to have trouble keeping with the modern fighters at high speeds, altitudes and I have little faith in the F-18, since I personally do not rate “carrier” aircraft up against dedicated interceptors. But they all have HMS, AIM-9X which means that they do have the capability to knock out the other planes on this list.

      7-Rafale, Rafale is our first plane without a HMS which is a shame but it has an advanced short range missile in MICA which has great range, “eye” sensor and LOAL capability as this article points out. All these things add up with its great maneuverability at low speeds and an advanced defense suit in SPECTRA. Rafale also has a great load-out capability, the airforce version having 14 pylons.

      8- F-22, she is not really designed for WVR combat, much like the soon released JSF (although thankfully, better than that) an F-22 getting into WVR was a mistake although unavoidable at times. As of today (May, 2016) I would put it above the Rafale because despite being a little chunky and not liking the canopy (not as good observation unlike a Typhoon) it would get the AIM-9X however this article was based on 2015 and so, it has to lose points on still using the old missile. Good maneuverability is fine and all but legacy weapon systems with no HMS chucks it down a few notches as does its low weapon capacity.

      9- J-10, this plane despite having a HMS loses out due to the fact its weapon systems are dated, as in, even older than upgraded sidewinders and I honestly do not know as much about the J-10’s avionics and maneuverability in comparison to other planes.

      As far as I am concerned planes after that are not necessary to list.

      • Avro Arrow

        “3- Gripen. Smaller than the Typhoon, helmet mounted sight AND IRIS-T? Deadly little plane but the only reason I put this below the Su-35 is because it is not as powerful or as well armed as the other two higher on this list. While the Euro and SU can carry betwen 10-13 weapon systems, the Gripen only carries 8. Staying power in a dogfight is very important, chances are your opponent did not come alone, planes fly in squadrons. If your missiles do not all find their targets due to ECM or amazing maneuvering you have fewer to fire while your opponent has a lot more.”

        That’s a great list (FAR better than the original IMO) but in this paragraph there’s something that I think you may have overlooked. Sure, the Gripen only has 8 hard points and isn’t as powerful as either the Su-35 or the EF-2000 but the Gripen’s trump cards are, and always have been, cost and logistics. While not usually taken into account when comparing fighter aircraft, these trump cards are absolutely lethal in a war scenario.

        The Gripen-C is no more than a fraction of the cost to procure and operate compared to the two previous entries. It is literally 1/4-1/3 the total cost of the EF-2000 and 1/3 the total cost of the Su-35 (also 1/3 the total cost of the Rafale). Since wars are not fought plane vs. plane but Air Force vs. Air Force, costs must be considered. Perhaps the Su-35 and EF-2000 have advantages that would make them the smart bet in a one-on-one battle with a Gripen but it does raise the question “How would an EF-2000 or Su-25 fare against 3-4 Gripens?” which isn’t much of a question at all. Outnumbered 3-1 against planes that undoubtedly have some of the best-trained pilots in the world by virtue of their $7,000USD (Super Gripen-E is only $4,700USD) per flight hour operational costs (easy to afford training hours that way), any pilot of any other aircraft in this list would turn tail and run. This is because worth their salt would know that going up against three Gripens with the kind of pilots that they help produce would be tantamount to suicide regardless of what they were flying themselves.

        Logistics-wise, Gripens use Jet-A1 as fuel which is cheap and theoretically available EVERYWHERE (Except Signoella Air Base in Italy for some odd reason) since that is the most common fuel used by commercial airliners. Availability and low cost of fuel is critical in war. Furthermore, while the destruction of airfields and bases would prove catastrophic to most planes in this list, Gripens can operate from 600m of straight, crappy, snow-covered road. They do not require hangars and can hide under overpasses and in forests. As a result, the loss of airbases would be of almost no consequence for an Air Force made up of Gripens with regard to combat readiness and efficacy. Gripens also require the least number of maintenance hours per flight-hour of any fighter jet in the world (The Super Gripen-E only requires 20 minutes of maintenance per flight-hour) which guarantees superior availability of the aircraft themselves which is only accentuated by their A2A turnaround time of ten minutes and A2G/A2S turnaround time of fifteen minutes. The fact that an engine swap can be done in one hour in a forest with one officer and four conscripts is nothing short of miraculous.

        I may sound like a fanboy, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it because for the most part, I am. I’m not Swedish though, I’m a Canadian who has gone to great lengths to research the different planes that my government is considering purchasing to replace the CF-18 Hornets. Initially, I was very dismissive of the Gripen because it’s so small and….Swedish. However, the more I learned, the more shocked I was at what this plane was capable of. I’ve been an military aviation enthusiast since 1990 and I couldn’t believe how little was written about the Gripen with all it can do, despite it’s bargain-basement price tag. You may not be aware of this but the Gripens frontal RCS is 0.1m². This actually classifies it as a STEALTH AIRCRAFT despite not having any of that absurdly-expensive coating that the Americans have come to love (The YF-23A didn’t need coating BTW). To make it more plain, the Gripen-C has the same RCS as a Northrop B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber and the Super Gripen-E will be even smaller than that. So to all the people who care about the “generation” buzzword, while the latest JAS-39C is a “Gen 4++”, the JAS-39E is a “Gen 5”.

        The simple fact is, no matter who you are, no matter what your budget is, the sheer number of Gripens that you can get for the same cost as any other fighter in the world makes the Gripen the world’s greatest fighter aircraft. I did some calculations for bestfighter4canada.ca and the money that the USA is flushing down the Lockheed-Martin toilet called the F-35 Lightning II would be enough to purchase 30,000 JAS-39E Super Gripens. That’s more air power than exists in the world today COMBINED (including the USA). Surely that more than compensates for a bit less power and a few fewer hard points.

        Another blogger on WordPress, Picard578 at Defense Issues paints a pretty good picture. Love him or hate him, I have personally vetted all the information in his articles and it is 100% accurate. Check these out:
        https://defenseissues.net/2015/12/21/a-fighter-for-canada/
        https://defenseissues.net/2014/01/11/comparing-modern-western-fighters/
        https://defenseissues.net/2014/08/09/single-vs-twin-engined-fighters/

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  31. Sarvesh Pratap Singh

    Where is SU-30MKI? I am an Indian and we know that its better than our Mig-29s? And it was quite surprising to see F-18 above Gripen, Mig-29 and Rafale.

  32. Ryan

    As it’s stated the information here is quite a little. But I think it was very good and a non biased article. BVR and WVR is quite an interesting topic. Some claim BVR is impractical in real life application as the US and Soviet union (at the time) shot down civilian aircraft with BVR missiles. On paper and in wargames or operations like red flag it works in a sense. But since those accidents more emphasis has been put on confirming targets before “killing” it. So when it comes to aircraft. You fly in close to confirm your targets are sukhois and then you are most likely dead in WVR air combat

  33. Valentin

    1- Is someone could explain to me by what miracle the “eurofoufoune” (the typhoon) is ranked before the Rafale even as the Eurofighter lost all his dogfights against the Rafale including high altitude dogfights ???! -> http://airforces.fr/2009/12/20/rafale-vs-typhooneurofighter/
    2-Anyway, the Typhoon should not even be ranked in the top 10 of the best fighters in WVR for the simple reason that to fight in WVR must survive the BVR. So even if the Eurofighter is a relatively good dogfighter he will never have the opportunity to prove in time since war will be eliminated from the “first round”…
    3-I would ask the British to quit rage as bulldogs and kindly accept the fact repeatedly proven that THE RAFALE, IN ADDITION TO BE TOTALLY OMNIROLE, IS BETTER THAN THE TYPHOON IN AIR SUPERIORITY EVEN IF THIS MISSION IS THE SOLE MISSION THAT GOOD TO KNOW EUROFIGHTER . Think minimal, instead of freak whenever we speak of the Rafale in India you’d better ask you questions! Do you really think it’s unfair to eliminate a plane which only do know air to air tasks, which has 9 years of lagging behind its main competitor in terms of capacity BUT do explode his development costs up to + 70% and select a plane which is better than all its competitors and that in all missions that may be assigned to a fighter ( offensive/ defensive counter air, close air support, air interdiction, aerial refueling, aerial reconnaissance, anti-ship strike, nuclear deterrence, small satellites launch..) all this in no greater than 2% of its original development budget and with bonuses such as the semi-stealth, the development of a customized standard for the customer and a completely local production? You really think ?

  34. Pingback: 10 incredible cancelled Westland aircraft | Hush-Kit

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