SuperBug, MiG-35, Rafale, EF-2000 Typhoon,F-16(Block 70) and JAS39 Gripen
Alrighty. In our investigation today, we have...
Boeing F-18 E/F Super Hornet
Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum F
Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon
Lockheed-Martin F-16, Block 70
Saab JAS39 Gripen
So let's get started. I'll be outlining the basic points on every aircraft. But first, let's have a review on what this contest is for so we know
what we're looking for. The Indian MRCA is a competition for a contract of what was 126 aircraft (I think that may have since increased, I don't
know off hand) in the role of a Light Multirole. This is to compliment their purchase of some Su-30 MKI's with a little brother in much the way F-35
compliments the F-22. So what we should be keeping our eyes out for are light multiroles here rather than focusing on the best possible aircraft as we
usually do. I'll include a bunch of stats, but they'll be from Wikipedia because I'm a lazy (insert general noun here).
Boeing F-18 E/F Super Fries (Hornet)
* Crew: F/A-18E (1), F/A-18F (2)
* Length: 60 ft 1¼ in (18.31 m)
* Wingspan: 44 ft 8½ in (13.62 m)
* Empty weight: 30,564 lb (13,864 kg)
* Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration)
* Max takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,900 kg)
* Powerplant: 2× General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
o Dry thrust: 14,000 lbf (62 kN) each
o Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (98 kN) each
* * Internal fuel capacity: F-18E: 14,400 lb (6,530 kg), F-18F: 13,550 lb (6,145 kg)
* External fuel capacity: 5× 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,430 kg)
* Maximum speed: >Mach 1.6 (1,050 mph, 1,680 km/h) at high altitude
* Range: 681 mi (592 nm, 1,095 km) on hi-hi-hi interdiction mission with 4× 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs, 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and 2× drop
* Combat radius: 150 nm (173 mi, 278 km) 135 min maritime air superiority mission with 6 AAMs and 3 drop tanks
* Service ceiling: >50,000 ft (15,000 m)
* Wing loading: 92.8 lb/ft² (453 kg/m²)
* Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1/A2 Vulcan cannon
* Hardpoints: 11 with a capacity of 17,750 lb (8,050 kg)
-It has AESA (and we all know that having an AESA radar means you can see things farther away, keep track of more of them, launch lots of missiles,
battle Japanese city-destroying monsters, fix marriages, and dissipate flatulence in enclosed areas. Trust me. The sales brochure says so.)
-It's an upgrade of a proven airframe
-Taking the whole package, you also get proven equipment to go along with it, including AMRAAM, a few AIM-9's, and other fun toys.
-It's got 11 hard points and the carrying capacity for a lot of doodads, thingamabobs, and doohickeys.
-This thing is the largest and heaviest in the competition by far.
-The Indians already have a really big fighter, they want a complimentary small one. This just isn't what they want.
-So far, AESA on the Super Fries is pretty spotty. I know, it'll be fixed in a future upgrade, but the competition is now
-It's slightly smaller than the $45 million Su-30 MKI's and yet costs about 12 million more.
-It's not stealth. Apparently everyone in the 21st century needs stealth or the F-22 will destroy them from 500 km away. With a gun burst.
The aircraft is definitely useful, but ultimately it just doesn't fit the niche that the Indians are looking for. It's kind of like the
one-and-a-half-hand bastard sword, it's a bit smaller than the Su-30 MKI's, but too large to be the small multirole that's the goal here. It does
have the AESA radar, but that's not special since the MiG-35 is flying around. Also, there have been reports of the F-18's radar has been slightly
spotty. I really think that this aircraft, although not a bad one, is just not the right choice here.
Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
* Crew: One or Two
* Length: 19 m (62 ft 4 in)
* Wingspan: 15 m (49 ft 3 in)
* Empty weight: 15,000 kg (33,069 lb)
* Max takeoff weight: 22,700 kg (50,076 lb)
* Powerplant: 2× Klimov RD-33MK afterburning turbofans (90 kN of thrust)
* Maximum speed: Mach 2.5 (2,448 km/h, 1,521 mph at altitude)
* Range: 4,023 km, 2,500 mi (with external tanks 6000 km, 3728 mi)
* Service ceiling: 18,900 m (62,000 ft)
* Rate of climb: ~300 m/s (60,000 ft/min)
* 1x 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with 150 rounds
* 8 (?) Hard Points
-It's a light multirole. This sounds familiar, possibly related to the idea of some competition?
-It's the other AESA-bearing aircraft, which is a big plus nowadays.
-It makes a really good airshow, which is the prime use of most aircraft nowadays anyway.
-It was originally designed to compliment Su-XX fighters, which conveniently the Indians have.
-That OLS is really cool. It can switch between TV mode, IR mode, or both. It's a pretty neat improvement on IRST.
-It's only got 8 hard points. Fewer toys to play with.
-It isn't Low-Observability
-It's still just a stopgap until the next multirole. In fact, it was almost just a demonstration that Mikoyan is still alive and doing stuff since
Sukhoi got the prime spot in PAK-FA.
It's a strong choice. MiG-29 complimented Su-27, MiG-35 compliments Su-30 MKI. It's a pretty good deal. It also has the AESA radar, which is a
pretty big plus. It fits the job of a light multirole alternative to the MKI's in the Indian Air Force. That fits my checklist pretty good. I'd say
it is currently at the top of it (and so do a few news sources).
Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon:
* Crew: 1 or 2
* Length: 15.96 m (52 ft 5 in)
* Wingspan: 10.95 m (35 ft 11 in)
* Empty weight: 11,000 kg (24,250 lb)
* Loaded weight: 15,550 kg (34,280 lb)
* Max takeoff weight: 23,000 kg (51,809 lb)
* Powerplant: 2× Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofans, 60 kN dry; 90 kN with afterburner (13,500 lbf; 20,250 lbf) each
* Maximum speed:
o At altitude: Mach 2
o At sea level: Mach 1.2 (1,470 km/h, 915 mph)
o Supercruise: Mach 1.2
* Range: 1390 km (864 mi)
* Ferry range: 3790 km (2,300 mi)
* Service ceiling: 19,812 m (65,000 ft)
* Thrust/weight: 1.18
* Gun: 1x 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon
* Air-to-Air missiles: AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM, AIM-120 AMRAAM, IRIS-T and in the future MBDA Meteor
* Air-to-Ground missiles: AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-88 HARM, ALARMs, Storm Shadow (AKA "Scalp EG"), Brimstone, Taurus, Penguin and in the future AGM
* Bombs: Paveway 2, Paveway 3, Enhanced Paveway, JDAM, HOPE/HOSBO
* Laser designator, e.g. LITENING pod
-For a PESA radar, CAPTOR is pretty impressive
-It is, in fact, pretty light. Which fits squarely into the requirements of which competition?
-It has supercruise. I don't think that any of the other toys in this competition have that.
-It's in full, reliable production. Order and they'll start shipping pretty soon.
-It has some RCS reductions, but still isn't stealth.
-The accompanying Meteor missile that's supposed to compliment it isn't quite out yet.
-How well would it mesh with the Su-30 MKI's systems?
It's definitely a contender. It's been sold and is in full production for other countries, another order would definitely work for the Indians.
It's a good performer and fits nicely into the niche. If the Indians can attach the weapons they've got and make it mesh properly, it could
Tomorrow, The JAS39 Gripen and maybe the F-16 Block 70. It's really difficult to find stats on the new Fighting Falcon.