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The US Air Force claims the F-15 is in several respects inferior to, or at best equal to, the Rafale, and EF-2000, which are variously superior in acceleration, maneuverability, engine thrust, rate of climb, avionics, firepower, radar signature, or range.
A chance encounter over the Lake District between a Eurofighter trainer and two F-15 aircraft turned into a mock dogfight, with the British plane coming off.The 'clash' took place last year over Windermere when the two-seater RAF Eurofighter was 'bounced' from behind by the two F-15E fighters.
The US pilots intended to pursue the supposedly hapless 'Limey' for several miles and lock their radars on to it for long enough so that if it had been a real dogfight the British jet would have been shot down.
But much to the Americans' surprise, the Eurofighter shook them off, outmanoeuvred them and moved into shooting positions on their tails.
Lt. Col. David "Logger" Rose, a Persian Gulf War F-15 pilot, 41, recalled the time "12 years ago to the day in Desert Storm" when an Iraqi MiG-29 chased away his F-15 on the first day of the war.
Indian flyboys in low-tech Russian and French jets defeated American F-15C pilots more than 90 percent of the time.
During those now famous exercises, Indian Su-30s and even MiG-21s outperformed American pilots flying their F-15 Eagles. Singapore, which is also looking at the Eurofighter and the French Rafale, has reason to be worried: China has bought the Su-30, as have Malaysia and Indonesia.
Singapore received a formal briefing from the USA on the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle late last month as it looks to improve its airborne early warning (AEW) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities.
Industry sources say Singapore is interested in a Global Hawk variant modified to conduct high-altitude, long-endurance AEW and airborne ground surveillance missions, and that this could potentially include indigenous sensor and battle management systems.
Singapore currently operates four Northrop E-2C Hawkeyes on AEW missions, but has in recent years been looking at a mix of new platforms for delivery from 2007-8, including Gulfstream G550 business jets equipped with AEW and SIGINT mission systems supplied by Israel Aircraft Industries.
Sources say Singapore confidentially committed to the G550-based solution several years ago, but also seeks long-endurance UAVs to meet its future requirements, although an acquisition is not imminent.
In 2002 the country began talks with EADS on collaborating on a new medium- to high-altitude, long-endurance UAV derived from the Euromale programme as a solution to its proposed low-altitude, long-endurance UAV requirement.
But the status of this collaboration remains unclear, and Singapore has also held talks with General Atomics on systems such as the Predator. An upgraded Global Hawk modified for the AEW mission would be an ideal complement to the proposed lower-tier system, and Northrop is already working to increase the RQ-4’s payload to 1,360kg (3,000lb), which should make the modifications sought by Singapore feasible.
Securing US government approval for a Global Hawk sale is also thought possible because Singapore is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which restricts the sale of UAVs that could deliver weapons of mass destruction. A South Korean request for information on the Global Hawk is unlikely to be approved because Seoul has signed the MTCR agreement.
Northrop’s improved RQ-4B Global Hawk is on schedule to enter flight test from mid-2006 following the recent delivery of the aircraft’s larger vertical tails and the mating of its extended 40m (130ft) span wing. The company is producing four RQ-4Bs in Palmdale, California.