How the five fighters stack up

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II

Saab JAS-39F Gripen

Eurofighter Typhoon
Dassault Rafale B
F/A-18F Super Hornet

PLEASE NOTE:  This table is NOT 100% definitive and it is subject to change.  Combat aircraft performance specifications are not always indicative of their combat ability, and much information is classified.  This information is provided as a "rough guide" only.  Whenever possible, the data provided is based on the manufacturer's specifications.  Otherwise, data in this table has been confirmed with at least two separate sources.

ALSO NOTE:  If there is a discrepancy between this table and another on this site, please consider this one as being correct, as it will be changed whenever new information is discovered.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Saab Gripen JAS 39E/F Eurofighter Typhoon Dassault Rafale Boeing F/A-18E/F/G Super Hornet
Crew 1 1(E), 2(F) 1 or 2(Trainer) 1(C,M), 2(B) 1(E), 2 (F,G)
Engines 1 1 2 2 2
Power 28,000 (43,000 with afterburner) 13,000 (22,000 with afterburner) 26,000 (40,000 with afterburner) 22,500 (34,000 with afterburner) 26,000 (44,000 with afterburner)
Thrust-to-weight ratio (with 100% fuel and A2A weapons) 0.87 1.06 1.07 0.99 0.93
Max speed (in mach) 1.6 2 2 1.8 1.8
Supercruise No1 1.2 (with 2 WVR and 2 BVR missiles) 1.3 (with 2 WVR and 4 BVR missiles) 1.4 (with 6 WVR/BVR missiles) No
Combat Radius (Air to Air mission) 1,100km (internal fuel only) 1,300km (with centreline 290 gallon tank) 1,389km 1,000+km 1000+km (internal fuel only)
Ferry Range (with external tanks) 2,220km (internal fuel only)2 4,000+km 3,790km 3,700+km 3,300km
Service ceiling: 60,000ft3 50,000ft4 55,000ft 55,000ft 50,000ft+
Wing loading (lower = better): 91.4lb/ft2 58lb/ft24 64lb/ft2 62.8lb/ft2 94lb/ft2
Rate of climb: Classified 50,000ft/min4 62,000ft/min 60,000ft/min 44,882ft/min
Infrared Search and Track: AAQ-40 EOTS Selex "Skyward G" IRST PIRATE IRST, LITENING pod SAGEM-OSF IRST mounted in external fuel tank
Helmet mounted display System: HMDS (still in development) Cobra HMDS Eurofighter HMSS TopSight HMD JHMCS
Electronic warfare and countermeasures: AN/AAQ/37 DAS missile warning system, AN/ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare system, stealth design resulting in decreased radar and infrared signature. ECM pods, BOL advanced countermeasure dispenser, MAW (missile approach warner), Laser Warning System, towed decoy, internally mounted RF jammers. ECM pods, flares, IR decoy dispenser, chaff pods, radar warning receiver, MAW, laser warning receiver, towed decoy, Thales SPECTRA electronic warfare suite ECM pods, towed decoys, chaff, flares, AN/ALE-165 jammer pod, AN/ALR-67 radar warning reciever
Gun: GAU-22/A 25mm 4-barrelled gatling cannon 27mm Mauser BK-27 Revolver cannon (E model only) 27mm Mauser BK-27 Revolver cannon 30mm GIAT 30/719B autocannon 20mm M61 Vulcan gatling cannon
Hardpoints: 4 internal, 6 external 10 13 (4 semi-conformal) 14 11
Payload: 18,000lbs (using external pylons) 15,875lbs 16,500lbs 21,000lbs 17,750lbs
“X-Factor”: Stealth, advanced sensors Can operate from unprepared runways, low operating cost. Legendary air-to-air performance, twin engine. Ground strike ability, naval version available, twin engine. Naval airframe, easy transition, twin engine.
Problems: Troubled development, questionable performance, high operating cost. Smaller design, less payload. Troubled history, high operating cost. Proprietary systems and weapons. Old design, unremarkable performance.

1Unofficially, the F-35 can supercruise at mach 1.2 for a distance of 241km.
2External fuel tanks are planned for the F-35, but none have been flight tested yet.
3The F-35 has only been tested to 43,000ft so far.
4Gripen C information, Gripen E data is unavailable

So how do the F-35, Gripen E, Typhoon, Rafale, and Super Hornet compare to each other?  As you can see, some of the specifications are quite close, others have very obvious differences.  It must be stated, however, that this comparison doesn't look at the complete picture.  There are other performance parameters, like instantaneous turn rate, sustained g performance, and acceleration that are just as important, but harder to research.  

This information was as accurate and as current as I could find.  Some data on the F-35 is still "classified", while other figures are specified, but not yet tested.  The Gripen E has a similar issue, but some information is confirmed thanks to the Gripen NG demonstrator aircraft.  The Gripen E will have a higher weight than the C model, but has a substantially more powerful engine to compensate.

Some things to note:
  • The F-35's wing loading and thrust-to-weight ratios aren't even close to the others.
  • The Gripen, Typhoon, and Rafale are quite similar, performance wise.
  • The Gripen's small size keeps it from carrying heavier payloads (it carries as much as the current CF-18), but otherwise, its performance is very similar, if not superior, to the others.
  • Despite its greater payload capability, the F-35 is limited by its 10 weapon hardpoints, the same as the much smaller Gripen.
  • The Rafale's supercruise performance seems...  Optimistic.
  • The Super Hornet really doesn't improve much on the classic CF-18 Hornet as far as performance goes.  It does hold more payload and has a lot more advanced gear though.
  • The F-35 does not have a 2 seater variant suitable for training or advanced combat roles (weapons officer, UCAV command, etc).


  1. I do have to ask why you didn't include the F-15E Strike Eagle in the comparison.

    1. Good question!

      I seriously considered adding the F-15SE "Silent Eagle" currently being marketed by Boeing. It's basically a F-15E with more advanced avionics and conformal "packs" that store missiles internally. I decided not to for two reasons.

      First of all, there just isn't that much information available about the F-15SE, as it is still in development and the design is not yet finalized. Last I saw, it was going to keep the vertical tail fins instead of the outward canted ones on the concept model.

      Second, I just don't believe it stands much of a chance to be considered. It's performance would be exceptional, but Canada already passed over the F-15 once, likely due to its high cost to purchase and operate. It would likely be a lot more affordable to procure now, but just as expensive to fuel and maintain. That, and the basic design is older than the CF-18 it would potentially replace.

      If the F-15SE become more of a probable choice for Canada, I will definitely add it. Right now, its more of a "dark horse".

    2. If not the F-15SE variant. How about the new build Strike Eagles e.g. F-15SA or F-15SG?

      I don't find the F-15 too expensive to maintain. Because the F-15 has 570 sq.ft (52.9 sq.m) of access covers, with approximately half of these quick access doors. The Eagle/Strike Eagle has 106 "black boxes" (avionics equipment), 97 fuel system plumbing connections, 202 lubrications points, and a projected 11.3 MMH/FH (Maintenance Man-Hours per Flight Hour). Also the F100-PW-220/229 or F110-GE-129 engines can be changed at around 20 minutes.

      At $100M (est) per plane, it may seem expensive but when all costs vs performance are reviewed, X vs Y vs Z are not the same. As stated by those in this discussion thread the F-15 provides, longer range, bigger weapons load and speed benefits that other small fighters a.k.k Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen and Super Hornet albeit less expensive in some ways cannot match. In turn, many of the new enhancements such as the fly by wire flight controls, and the availability of F100-PW-229, F110-GE-129 or F110-GE-132 engines should keep operating costs at or below the known costs.

      Another Guest.

    3. However, Canada should consider the new build Strike Eagle which is a far better alternative to the F-35. The Gripen NG and "Super Slow Hornet" are not the best alternatives to replace the CF-18 fleet.


      According to The Globe and Mail, the Harper government insists that the F-35’s single engine is more reliable than previous generations of jet engines. Although that may be true, it should not be the only consideration. Thus far, the Harper government has sidestepped the key question of whether a modern single-engine jet is as safe as a modern twin-engine jet, especially in the Arctic and over Canada’s extensive maritime zones.

      The answer to this question is not to be found simply by looking at fighter jet aircraft. As was shown, the single-engine F-16 has proven to be more reliable than the earlier single-engine F-104 but less reliable than the twin-engine F-15 and F-22. SAAB’s single-engine Gripen has performed well, with not one engine-related crash since it joined the Swedish Air Force in 1997 (except there were first two accidents for the Gripen occurred in 1989 and 1993; which these were related to flight control software issues, one aircraft was destroyed in a ground accident during engine testing). But with less than 250 Gripens in service, this may not be the best indication of reliability.

      Canada has entirely different operational needs, as most roles involve long range or long endurance missions over the artic. While modern engines are very reliable, the loss of the engine overwater or artic guarantees the loss of the JSF, F-16 and Gripen and also requires that the Navy commit search and rescue assets to support any operational deployment of JSFs, F-16s and Gripens.

      Another problem for the Gripen NG (not just reliability and characteristics) is that its JAS-39E/F models won’t be available in numbers until 2023 or so, which is too late for Canada. The Brazilians are solving a similar problem by getting leased JAS-39C/D aircraft on very attractive terms, until their more advanced JAS-39E/Fs arrive.

      Another Guest

    4. The F/A-18E/F is instead an expensive failure - a travesty of subterfuge and poor leadership. Intended to over come any potential adversaries during the next 20 years, the aircraft is instead outperformed by a number of already operational air craft - including the fighter it is scheduled to replace, the original F/A-18 Hornet.

      The Super Hornet concept was spawned in 1992, in part, as a replacement for the 30 year-old A-6 Intruder medium bomber. Though it had provided yeoman service since the early 1960s, the A-6 was aging and on its way to retirement by the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The Navy earlier tried to develop a replacement during the 1980s - the A-12 - but bungled the project so badly that the whole mess was scrapped in 1991. The A-12 fiasco cost the taxpayers $5 billion and cost the Navy what little reputation it had as a service that could wisely spend taxpayer dollars.

      Nevertheless, the requirement for an A-6 replacement remains. Without an aircraft with a longer range and greater payload than the current F/A-18, the Navy lost much of its offensive punch. Consequently it turned to the original F/A-18 - a combat-proven per former, but a short-ranged light bomber when compared to the A-6. Still stinging from the A-12 debacle, the Navy tried to "put one over" on Congress by passing off a completely redesigned aircraft - the Super Hornet - as simply a modification of the original Hornet.

      The obfuscation worked. Many in Congress were fooled into believing that the new aircraft was just what the Navy told them it was - a modified Hornet. In fact, the new airplane is much larger - built that way to carry more fuel and bombs - is much different aerodynamically, has new engines and engine intakes and a completely reworked internal structure. In short, the Super Hornet and the original Hornet are two completely different aircraft despite their similar appearance.

      Though the deception worked, the new aircraft - the Super Hornet - does not. Because it was never prototyped - at the Navy's insistence - its faults were not evident until production aircraft rolled out of the factory. Among the problems the aircraft experienced was the publicized phenomenon of "wing drop" - a spurious, uncommanded roll, which occurred in the heart of the air craft's performance envelope. After a great deal of negative press, the Super Hornet team devised a "band-aid" fix that mitigated the problem at the expense of performance trade-offs in other regimes of flight. Regardless, the redesigned wing is a mish-mash of aerodynamic compromises which does nothing well. And the Super Hornet's wing drop problem is minor compared to other shortfalls. First, the aircraft is slow -- slower than most fighters fielded since the early 1960s. In that one of the most oft- uttered maxims of the fighter pilot fraternity is that "Speed is Life", this deficiency is alarming.

      But the Super Hornet's wheezing performance against the speed clock isn't its only flaw. If speed is indeed life, than manoeuvrability is the reason that life is worth living for the fighter pilot. In a dogfight, superior manoeuvrability allows a pilot to bring his weapons to bear against the enemy. With its heavy, aerodynamically compromised airframe, and inadequate engines, the Super Hornet won't win many BVR and WVR engagements. Indeed, it can be outmanoeuvred by nearly every front-line fighter fielded today.

      Another Guest

    5. The F414-GE-400 EPE engines have not been fielded, nor have any contracts been signed for them AFAIK. The F/A-18E/F has not received the Block III upgrades. The aircraft has only just begun testing, if at all.

      Lets compare the Super Hornet's performance to a great fighter: For example the F-15C variant. The Super Hornet is heavier at 32,000 lbs stripped as compared to 28,000 lbs.

      It is capable of carrying 6,000 lbs less ordinance weight at 66,000 lbs MTOW as compared to 68,000 lbs.

      It has significantly higher wing loading at 94 lb/ft^2 as compared to 73.1.

      It has inferior thrust-to-weight at 0.93 (loaded) as compared to 1.12.

      It has significantly inferior combat radius at 448 miles (390 nm, 720 km), with CFT's and weapons pod at 805 miles (700 nm, 1,296 km) as compared to 1,061.

      The differences you see are largely the result of sacrifices made for the purpose of allowing the aircraft to operate from a carrier, and to take on the A2G parts of being a multirole jet.

      The F-15C, held by pretty much every aviation expert ever to be a great fighter, is not required to do those tasks and, therefore, doesn't need to make the sacrifices.

      The Super Hornet is heavier because it is a carrier fighter. It needs larger wings, larger control surfaces, and strengthened structure for carrier operations. Unfortunately, being able to operate from carrier does not make you any more effective in engaging enemy aircraft.

      Manoeuvrability is best demonstrated by wing loading and thrust to weight ratio. The overall weight is not so much the issue so much as how well you can move it around. The F-15 has lower wing loading and a higher thrust-to-weight ratio which both indicate higher manoeuvrability. The thrust to weight ratio of 0.93 is not as good as 1.12, ergo the F-15 will have better performance where acceleration and energy retention are required (i.e. A2A combat). The EPE engines have not been fielded, nor have any contracts been signed for them AFAIK.

      You get nothing for free in aerospace design. For the Advanced Super Hornet operating an aircraft with CFTs increases its available range at only 805 miles. But at the cost of weight. If you want fuel, you have to haul it. This means that when the aircraft gets to the fight it will still be carrying all the fuel it needs to get home from its farther position, and you will see a performance hit because of it.

      The Super Hornet was never a great air superiority fighter. It was not great even compared to the F-15 before it, and it has absolutely no chance against the great 4th Gen let alone 5th Gen fighters (like the F-22, PAK-FA and J-20). A multirole fighter is just that: A decent everything, but a great nothing.

      Again the F/A-18E/F has not received the Block III upgrades. The aircraft has only just begun testing, if at all.

      As far as I know the Super Hornet has no air-to-air kills in combat. Claiming that is has performed great in A2A combat as compared to aircraft such as the F-15 (well over 100 combat kills, no combat losses) is goanna be a tough position to take.

      Another Guest

    6. If it's slow to accelerate, and can't keep its speed up, it can't keep its energy up. That means of it's an extended fight then it's in trouble. That means the Super Hornet can't be a great WVR platform in its current configuration. Speed in WVR is all about cornering speed. The longer you can keep your speed near cornering speed, the better your chances in a fight. In a WVR fight the Super Hornet, Block I, II, or III, sheds speed quickly. And it doesn't accelerate to regain that speed very well. Without those two critical things, all an opponent like the Su-27/30 family has to do is keep the Super Hornet turning, and he'll rule the fight.

      Speed is EVERYTHING in combat. The corner speed is how long you stay alive. If you can keep your aircraft close to your corner speed longer, you burn off less energy, which means you can manoeuvre more. If you are too high over your corner speed, your turns are going to be much wider, which means you have to pull harder, which means you burn off more speed.

      If you are below your corner speed, you can't manoeuvre as much until you stall, which means you're a sitting duck. You might get a couple of turns before you're approaching stall, and once that happens, you might as well pull the ejection handle if you can't accelerate.

      Betting on the Super Hornet to best any Flanker in a high AOA manoeuvres game is a lost cause. There are gigabytes upon gigabytes of documentation on the Flanker's tolerance for high angles of attack on YouTube alone.

      Also, high AOAs are more or less useless in anything but guns only combat which, itself, is largely useless. You can search "Above Top Secret" for any number of threads debating the usefulness of manoeuvres like Cobra and Kulbit. They are definitely around.

      Some of the export Su-30 Flankers are equipped with 2D asymmetric thrust vectoring and can point the nose in any direction regardless of actual direction of motion. It even has sufficient thrust to maintain some of the massive speed bleed it will encounter. The Super Hornet has no thrust vectoring, and will encounter acceleration problems because it has problems accelerating.

      Another Guest

    7. You need to focus at least three based on very important combat range, ferry range, sophistication of radar, ordnance capacity and survivability. The cost is the last resort. You can't cheap out.

      The serious candidates would be listed in order of combat range.

      F-15 Silent Eagle - 828 mi (720 nm; 1,333 km) combat radius with an Internal Conformal Weapons Bays. 1,035 mi (900 nm, 1,666 km) for A/A (Air-to-Air), 1,150 mi (1,000 nm; 1,853 km) for max combat radius in A/G (Air-to-Ground) with x2 610 US gal (2,309 litre) external tanks and CFT's.

      Dassault Rafale – 683 mi (593 nm, 1,100 km) with three external tanks 1,135 gal (4,300 L), four MICA AAMs, and twelve 1,000 lb bombs. 919 mi (798 nm, 1,480 km) with three external tanks 1,585 gal (6,000 L), four MICA AAMs, and four 500 Ib GBU-12 LGBs. 1,137 mi (988 nm, 1,830 km) with two CFTs 607 gal (2,300 L), three external tanks 1,505 gal (5,700 L), two SCALP-EG and two MICA AAMs.

      Eurofighter Typhoon – Strike: 403 mi (350 nm, 650 km) (4 BVRAAM, 2WVRAAM, and 7,000 Ib bombs, lo-lo-lo). Strike: 863 mi (749 nm, 1,390 km) (Basic loading for air-combat + LGB*3 + ARM*2 + pod*1, hi-lo-hi). Air Combat: 863 mi (750 nm, 1,389 km). Air-combat: 114 mi (100 nm, 185 km), 3hrs CAP

      They are the only three that should be on the short list, and the Eurofighter is questionable.

      These do not make the cut:

      JAS-39E/F Gripen NG – 807 mi (701 nm, 1,300 km)

      F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet - 805 mi (700 nm, 1,296 km) with CFT's and weapons pod.

      F-35A - 683 mi (540 nm,1,100 km)

      I'm more than confident that the F-15 is more than up to the job. It is an excellent aircraft capable of meeting any known threat in the region which is a right aircraft for Canada's requirements.

      Ok if not a large number of F-15s, how about acquire some hi/low mix of F-15s, Typhoon or Rafale?

      The RCAF would never have all F-15 fleet, but maybe 50? (some small number) mixed with a larger force of (Lo) aircraft still makes a lot of sense. Most RCAF aircraft operate out of Cold Lake or Bagotville. That is probably all a Canadian F-15 would need to do. A smaller aircraft like the Typhoon or Rafale can be forward deployed to the desolate airfields if necessary operationally.

      Regards Another Guest

  2. Hmm.. if this is the more permanent page about how the fighters measure up, perhaps this is the proper place to post a translated exerpt from the Swiss Aviation news blog 24heures, about what has boiled down to the key advantages of the Gripen E(& F) that made it a winner when compared to the Typhoon & the Rafale in the Swiss competiotion.

    Reminder on the subject of aircraft Gripen E:

    The acquisition cost of the Gripen is 40% lower than its competitors.

    Operating costs of the Gripen represent a quarter of those of its competitors.

    Due to its high reliability and reduced repair time, Gripen provides more hours of flying Air Force.

    The Swedish government guarantees the constant development of combat aircraft in the future.

    The Gripen impact on the environment is significantly lower than its competitors.

    Saab creates jobs and long-term activities in Switzerland and warrants to the Swiss industry business volume above 100% of the purchase price.

    Sweden Switzerland offers a wide cooperation on armaments and training opportunities unmatched in Sweden.

    Instead of building a plane and then having to perform an update mid-life major and very costly, Saab provides critical improvements but smaller every two to three years. This development philosophy involves many advantages.

    1. You seem very pro-Gripen but "the Gripen's small size keeps it from carrying heavier payloads." It can't deliver.
      The issue is not so much which plane baseed on cost, but which can carry meteor, taurus and brimstone. With this in mind, there is only one contender, the Euro Typhoon.

      Now re-examine the above stats and look at how superior the Typhoon is with regard to its range, payload and supercruise. Now re-vist recent upgrades to Typhoon which include conformal tanks.

    2. The rafale is better than the typhoon and it can carry more weapons than the typhoon, and it's cheaper.

  3. As the information about Gripen E/NG's combat range above ( 1,300km (with centreline 290 gallon tank)) apparently is somewhat confusing; that value in from a presentation in 2009, referring to a loadout of 4 BVR missiles & 2 WVR, & includes 30 min on station. In other words; it's actual combat range in that configuration is longer than 1300 km. Further, since 2009 some more development has taken place apparently. Back then, the increase of internal fuel volume compared to Gripen C/D was referred to as 40%. Now, as the first Gripen E is being built, it's referred to as almost 50%. A natural assumption from such an increase is naturally that range figures are going to increase aswell. Especially considering the rumors about Gripen E/NG's aerodynamic performance being better than originally expected..

    1. I've read that as well. I believe the wing loading numbers will be different as well as other specs. When the Gripen E meets production, I'll do my best to keep thing updated and accurate as possible.

  4. Hello,

    I have maybe some additional data about Rafale.

    1/ about T/W ratio, you are maybe a bit pessimistic: Rafale is a 10t-class fighter (empty weight), but Rafale C, the best comparison with single seat Eurofighter or F-35, is probably closer to 9.5t. Rafale M is heavier: 10,196kg empty weight. Anyway, I don’t know how you make your calculations and empty weight data about Rafale C seems outdated.

    2/ About supercruise, I share your skepticism and I haven’t found precise information about that. I think differences could be explained by unquoted parameters: altitude, configuration, etc.

    3/ About combat radius, 1,000 km seems little. I found on French MoD website a ‘tactical combat radius’ of 1600km. In addition, Swiss evaluation gives the best endurance/loiter time to Rafale in the air policing mission.
    ==> Keep in mind: because Rafale has the biggest payload, it can also carry more external fuel. He can trade some of its payload to gain range.

    4/ About EW suite: you only wrote ‘Spectra’ because you don’t find the list of sub-systems? If you want, I can give you more details about that.

    I hope that will help (I can provide references),

    Silver Dart

    1. 1/ The T/W is not from any calculations on my part, but from published materials.

      2/ I think you're right. Mach is very dependent on altitude.

      3/ The combat radius listed is likely with internal fuel only. Naturally, external tanks are always an option.

      4/ I was under the impression that the "Spectra" suite was the name given to the EW system as a whole. From what I have read, it is quite good.

    2. Hi,

      Thanks for your reply.

      1/ Oh yeah, websites such as Wikipedia quote the same values. Still, it really seems to be for Rafale M, so it would be better for a Canadian Rafale ;)

      2/ While we’re talking about supercruise, I see today on an eurofighter website (official) a claimed supercruise capability of Mach 1.5. The contest will go on, I’m waiting for the first one to declare: we achieve Mach 2 supercruise! I can share with you the website link, so you can add this new value to your table.

      3/ Hmm, so I do have a doubt about Eurofighter : that’s not 1389 km only on internal fuel, right? Internal fuel difference is probably less than 10% between Rafale and Eurofighter and Eurofighter is at least 10% heavier, so a more than 30% gap seems unlikely. I will try to find a proper reference to elaborate on that. Thanks to the five hardpoints able to carry fuel tanks, I'm pretty sure range isn't an issue for Rafale.

      4/ Yeah, Spectra is the name of the EW suite, as Praetorian is for Eurofighter one. For the readers, you could maybe precise that Spectra includes ECM pods, flares and chaff dispensers, missile launch warner, Laser Warning System and internally mounted RF jammers. About performance, we will most likely never know, but swiss air force seems to have appreciated it.

      Silver Dart

  5. Due to my reference, which is the pilot who did the test, The Gripen demo did more than M 1.2 with 2 iris-t, four AAMRAM and centertank at 25000 ft. At 50000 ft, where other aircraft do their supercruise measurements, the mach number at the same speed will be over 1.3. Given the lower drag at that altitude, the speed will be higher too. So Over M 1.4 is probably the number to compare with.
    So why isn´t SAAB telling us at least the max supercruise at 25000 ft? The answer is the Swedish armed forces, which want to keep actual top performance secret. A costomer will get the right numbers and probably have the same will to keep them secret. The Soviet union always tried to figure out the performance of the Swedish fighters and the pilots where told to not play too much with the Russian fighters when they met. Today we have no enemy, but just like Canada we don´t fully thrust the Russians yet.

    1. Arne, your information is most appreciated. I would prefer a link though, but as I also know that the original gripen more or less by 'accident', as in a very good design, had 'super cruise' abilities I will take your reference as facts, of a sort :)

      What a lot of people seems to miss is that Gripen was built to meet, and overcome, USSR. We had a lot of very rugged specifications that had to be meet, before any aircraft was mass produced. That included the idea of modules, as if the whole aircraft was built as a lego, easily maintained in rough conditions on some lonely road, in winter. The new one will be built the same way, and now it's easier as we already have practically solved the problems we meet in the beginning. And this single engine we use is extremely rugged, haven't malfunctioned in itself as far I know, since first being used 1987. And yes, we changed that motor to Swedish conditions, and demands. As for the new engine in a 'E Gripen' it's still to early to say anything, and I don't know if we will do the same with that one as we did with the original.

      That 'failure rate' seems pretty good to me, and getting better with each hour of use. Anything can happen naturally, but the same should then be applicable for a twin engine concept, in where the possible failure rate should be doubled btw.

      As for comparing the data link used by Nato to the one we have? It's two different concepts, in where you only will find the newest European and American aircrafts applying the concept we've been using since Draken. With it, presuming we're 'allowed' to use it that is :) We go radar silent, use radars not belonging to those shooting, linking their radar image to the aircrafts, via our data link getting updates every second, shot and follow (correct) the missiles through that same data link. We had to adapt to Link 16 but I hope we still can use our own by its side. Because in a real combat situation that will be the one preferred, not a data link needing to bounce via some AWAC, or satellite. Our 'peer to peer' data link should, in theory, be able to use any radar sharing our data link system, be it a ship or land based. With that it doesn't matter if you kill one unit, another will then be chosen. But I don't know how far integrated we've became with Nato standards here? Sometimes both military and politicians make the most surprising decisions, not out of concern of any military capacity, but from other geopolitical, financial etc. But myself I find it rather stupid doing so, when it comes to ones national defense.

      Best Regards

  6. From the figures above it looks like the Gripen is a pretty good ride and those canards should give it a very competitive turn rate. But what about the systems and the situational awareness the pilot/crew need. It has AESA and I've heard a very good data link. The F22 pilot wins every time because of superior performance and situational awareness and to a smaller extent stealth. The BVR missile completes the job before the opposition knows what has hit them. I'd like to see a further comparison of the Gripen's weapon system capabilities ie range, target acquisition and management, networking etc. etc. against the other players

    1. Not really, as F-22 must use its radar to launch missiles, and even if radar is not detected (which it will be by any competent RWR), missile itself will be detected by missile warners.

    2. True, but the F-22's AESA radar, along with data links with other F-22's, means that it doesn't need to constantly barrage its target with radar waves to lock on.

      That, and RWR's don't always work, and even when they do, sometimes its too late.

    3. I guess it´s hard to do a comparison of the system, because some of it is classified and different army´s have different tactics. But the Gripen will have a high score in it because Sweden have been pioneering network centric defense and tactical datalink 50 years ago and have the most experience in that area. Futhermore glasscockpit was standard 40 years ago and the Gripen is the only fighter with two datalinks, using TIDLS unjammable realtime tactical datalink and link 16. The Gripen E will have an improved version of TIDLS. This together with complete sensorfusion, the most advanced AESA, IRST, HMD, open sorce code with separete systems for flight control and mission control make the Gripen system the best. Maybe something equally good does exist.
      When talking about agility it´s proven that The Gripen E have the highest agility of all fighters. The only only that dared to compare with the Gripen was the Tyfoon, which was out turned.

  7. Another note: Gripen's wing loading is actually higher than Rafale's - 283 kg/m2 vs Rafale's 276 kg/m2 with 50% fuel and 6 AAMs.

  8. Correction regarding combat radius figures:
    Dassault Rafale: 1.250 km on internal fuel
    Eurofighter Typhoon: 1.100 km on internal fuel, 1.389 km w centerline fuel tank and 10-min loiter

  9. Is the wing loading a fair statistic when you consider the F-35 is a lifting body design? Love the Gripen though although I think Canada needs twin engine planes and think the Rafale is the best fit myself.

    1. You need to realize that lift when in level flight is not the same as lift when turning. Rafale also has a wide body and thus a lot of body lift in level flight, just like the F-35, but when turning both Rafale and Gripen have far more body lift than the F-35 does.

  10. The article missed un important comparison : with the russian fighters ...

    1. I wanted to compare the jets to each other, to show the advantages and disadvantages of each. Any one of them should be sufficient for older Russian or Chinese sourced jets... Its the newer ones (PAK FA and J-20) that are some concern.

  11. I would have to agree with the comment of Anonymous dated 23 DEC 13 at 0600. The object is not to be in competition with an F-22 and perhaps not any other aircraft produced in Europe or the United States but those in Russia, China, Pakistan and perhaps India. (If that were the case Canada should go buy F-22s.) They are looking for customers too. It would be nice if there were some data from the Swedish Air Force visit to Red Flag at Nellis to see how they performed in dissimilar ACM with F-15s, F-16s and F-22s if they did engage them. However, it still seems the serious competition is going to come from MiG and Sukhoi. The big issue for Canada is going to be cost. Given the Swedish government's direction to SAAB was to produce an aircraft with less acquisition and support costs, they seem to have been successful. Another thing to consider is the maintenance scheme the Swedes use. I have heard their maintenance teams consist of one NCO who is a career technician with three conscripts. Keeps training costs down as it would appear the turnover would be significant. It would seem logical that this would impact the design of aircraft systems to maintain the KISS principal. (Keep It Simple Stupid.) Over all, the simplicity and cost of the Gripen seem to trump everybody else.

    1. The US prohibits export sale of F22, so not an option.

  12. Your stats for the F-16 are wrong.

    1. Odd... I didn't post any stats on the F-16...

  13. The CBC posted an article today, here is an excerpt:
    French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation is offering the deficit-conscious Harper government lower long-term support costs if its Rafale fighter is chosen as the new air force jet.

    The offer, which is being studied by government officials, includes the unrestricted transfer of technology, such as software source codes for servicing the planes, said Yves Robins, Dassault's senior vice-president of NATO affairs.

    Given this information how does the Rafale rate against the Grippen for Canada?\ BTW I think the F35 is by far the WRONG choice for Canada.

    1. See my recent post on

      I think the Gripen is a slightly better choice than the Rafale, given Saab's history of offsets and support, combined with the Gripen's lower cost, rough field capability, and its NATO weapon capability. A "Canadianized" Rafale would be an excellent choice, however.

  14. I don't see why no one is talking about a F-16 E/F Block 60 as a great replacement for our aging F-18As. It has all the bells and whistles of most of these aircraft at a more friendly price tag. And, if we turning away from stealth until generation 6, this aircraft gets the most bang for the buck. Plus, if we are actually serious about defending this great land of ours and still, on occasion, participating in missions off-shore, we should be planning on at least a 120 new fighters. Through in compatibility with our most probable partner in any "dust-up", plus a very good operating cost per mission, plus, I'm sure, a great deal from Lockheed Martin (including source codes) and you have a good platform until Generation 6. For those who will question the fact that it is single engine, I encourage them to research the data from start until present day about just how well this aircraft has performed from a single engine perspective -- in a word outstanding. Finally, this selection will be much easier for the tax-payer to embrace and we will still be able to negotiate a boat-load of Canadian contracts in support.

  15. Rafale - Nice looking airplane. Now if they could only get that darn IFR probe out of the way. It has to be a distraction to the pilot.

  16. Some very informed comments here, but as usual with the technically qualified, politically naive, and hyper-focused. If Canada, even Stephen Harper's Canada, wants a viable aerospace industry, it will have to think outside the box (thanks to John Diefenbaker, we haven't been in the box since the late 'fifties).

    I bet you all that a SU PAK50 with GE F136 or YFf20 Engines would be a world beater. Canada gets distribution rights in the America's, Bristol, the engine/weapons' integration and final assembly contract (atoning for Mulroney's egregious F18 decision), and Canada gets a world class air superiority capability. Flight, ground support, and operational conditions at places like Cold Lake (well named) and Bagotville, are the natural environment for the SU50, what it was designed for. Then there's the issue of speed to altitude (and altitude is life and death to the fighter). Can the Rafale or Eurofighter climb as fast as the 50? You're kidding right?
    Sending a Rafale pilot against a SU50 pilot would be like sending Charlie the Tuna to a canning plant. In the inter-wear years, there were a number of aviation "experts" who asserted that the monoplane would never be as effective in an air superiority role, as the bi-plane, due to maneuverability issues. Well, welcome to the same type of debate as we're having now.

  17. If we take a look at history for a moment, let’s look at the F-5. Yes it was underpowered and had only two antiquated 20 mm cannons but it still flew circles around so many of its contemporaries. It could also beat an F-4 to altitude, turn inside an F-15 and be used as the aircraft of choice as an adversary and fighter lead in trainer. It was easy to maintain. Not a single accumulator in it. Pilots loved it. Maintainers loved it. It just wasn’t one of those behemoth gas guzzling fighters that were ultra-sophisticated (meaning things can break – frequently). It is still used by a number of countries around the world. Upgrades are still being done to it. I am not suggesting Canada re-enlist all of the CF-5’s but perhaps a similar philosophy in aircraft operations should be adopted. I agree with the posting of 31 January regarding the F-16. The aircraft is going to be around for a while. It was sad that it was not chosen during the NFA competition back the late 1970s when Canada was considering it along with the F-18. The primary reason it was not chosen (according to the PIO at NDHQ) was that it has a single engine. Why then the F-35? If dual engine is the requisite number of engines then single engine aircraft should not be a part of the equation. If that is the case then support considerations become paramount. The Brits and the French still have a long way to go to beat the Americans in this arena. (I don’t know about the Swedes.) And we are still on the same continent. All the industrial, transportation and engineering support are readily available within the same time zones. That can be critical. Unless Canada is ready to fund a new Arrow, then it is going to be reliant on primarily American support. If that is the case then it has to be something from their stable i.e. the F-15(E/I/S/K or SE model), F-18(E/F and maybe a growler or two), or F-16(E/F). The nice part about the American aircraft is they are all still in production. Perhaps those offset benefits that accompanied the CF-18 buy could be renewed. What is also nice is all the developmental costs have already been amortized. Should be able to cut a great deal with the Yanks.

  18. It is important to remember that these decisions are made by politicians and trade agreements weigh heavily on the decisions made. I was working at Cold Lake (4wing) when we retired the Cf-5. Based on the ground support and training infrastructure in place I thought the best bang for the buck would have been the F-20, basically a T-38, Cf-5 with one F-15 engine. I also felt that new twin hueys would have been a better replacement than the griffins. Don’t even get me started on the cyclone project. Does the Canadian pubic know we spent 700 million on the Eh-101 only to cancel the project and the purchase the less useful civilian version of the same airframe for SAR duties and call it the cormorant? It has been my experience that all the specifications and numbers are of little use to those who write the cheques. I surmise that we will spend 5-10 billion on new fighter aircraft as long as there is an agreement that the US defense department will spend the same amount in Canada, a similar agreement to what we had for the F-18. As a footnote 78% of those contracts were in Quebec, but that’s history now. Always remember the DND is ruled by politicians, 4 years at a time. J. Anderson Maj. CAF retired

  19. The f-35 is a terrible fighter aircraft the Americans are to busy focusing on how far ahead the Russians are getting with their su-27 su-30 and even mig 29s these planes are better than f-35 in most ways. A clear disadvantage for the f35 is that the wings are small this makes the plane have less manoeuvrability I hate to say it but American air supremacy is in jeopardy.
    And Russia are willing to export these planes. I have heard that Eqypt 3 days ago from when I wrote this signed a 3 billion dollar deal with Russia for 3 billion dollars worth of fighter planes and attack helicopters. I am not bias towards anyone my favourite fighter jet is by far an f-16 but the gripen I am beginning to really like I know cost is quite a big part to play in this but a gripen cost between 40-60 million dollars and a f-35A costs 153.1 million dollars and f-35 c 199million dollars. I am bad at maths but I think that means 5 gripens or one f-35c with poor manoeuvrability less range than a griphen and I could go on and on but its all up there. More bang for your buck with your gripen.

  20. In response to Anonymous on 8 February, wow, what a concept. In the words of Jayne Cobb in an episode of Firefly, “I smell an awful lot of ‘ifs’ coming off this plan.” The number of hurdles to either license build or assemble Russian aircraft in Canada would take years to iron out. NATO compatibility alone would require an enormous amount of re-engineering. Rebuilding an entire aerospace infrastructure in Canada at this stage of the game would also be pointless. If the idea is to revitalize Canadian industry, something other than going to Sukhoi should be considered. If the exercise is a matter of national pride, be prepared to pay the price in taxes.

    Canada’s participation in the F-35 was a mistake. Let’s suck it up and go find something useful to the defense mission. If dual engine is not a requirement, it opens the field a little more. It should be agile. It should be easy to maintain. It should be affordable. And do we really need an air superiority fighter? Building a Super Arrow makes as much sense as it did to build the CF-105 in the 1950s. We cannot allow our national pride to get in the way of the truth. (That’s for another discussion.) The CF-18s are getting old. Canada kept the CF-5, CF-104 and CF-101 around for much longer than they should have. Are we going to do the same with the CF-18 and keep sending them in for service life extension programs? Time to poop or get off the pot. Politics should not drive military operational concerns. What is Canada’s role and future mission(s) look like? If unit costs and life cycle costs are a concern, what is the compatibility between the F/A-18A/B and the F/A-18E/F? That may be the cheapest and best way to go. Training would be conversion training, spares may already be in stock and transitioning would be a lot easier than introducing a totally new airframe such as a Typhoon, Rafale or Grippen. The idea of taking any aircraft and ‘Canadianizing” it just doesn’t make sense. Go ask the airlines if being a launch customer is a good idea. Only the marketing folks like it.

  21. Its time for Canada to realize that being America's little buddy to the North is not in its best interests.
    Has Canada gone out on its own and taken on a 1st or 2nd tier air and ground defense network? Not since 1945.
    Gripen's suit of offsets and tech transfer is good. Rafale's current offer of a made in Canada fighter is better. Yes the French sound desperate but bringing back military aircraft manufacturer to Canada instead of being in a subcontractor status is highly desirable.
    Raphael's inability to carry Canada stockpiles of us made weapons is a concern or was a concern in the five years since these discussions have started nearly three-quarters of all NATO spec US weapons have been qualified on the Rafale this includes most of all of Canada US weapons stockpile. In other items the European product, Meteor and ASSAM, is substantially superior to the America competitor.
    Over the last 5 years Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon have come to Red Flag. With their advanced EW suites and superior data links Gripen and Rafale in 2,4,6 & 7 aircraft linked radars(quasi phased array)had no problem locating F-22 Raptors and remaining undetected by everything but big powerful radar scans, which would have lead to their death by Meteor. Raptor pilots reported these smaller fighters were upon them WVR before the F-22s vaunted electronics suite could detect them, the smaller Gripen was within gun fighting range before being detected. Raptor pilots were forced to go vertical and escape most of the time using their huge P&W at full AB, not a very good technique against a average pilot with a mid 1960s vintage heat seeking missile. Last years Red Flag Alaska was highlighted by German Typhoons using similar tactic to wax Raptors left and right. At the farewell dinner there were no caterers, losers cook for the winners, Raptor pilots did the cooking.
    BTW that silly looking fixed probe on the Rafale nose will save Canada approximately $350 million over a 40 year aircraft life, as the F-35 is incompatible with Canada's refueling aircraft. That's how much its going to cost to have a allied or commercial tanker available for every medium to long distance flight.
    Every Lockheed/Martin quarterly report the list of things the F-35 can do get smaller. While the CBO puts the price of F-35 at full production in 2022 at never less than $168 million each, double Lockheed Martin's predicted cost, with delivery to Canada in 2025 at the earliest.

    1. In response to Papi1960R I was unaware that Rafale had offered to set up manufacturing in Canada. I was hoping someone would come forward with some Red Flag information with regards to DACM. Seems the Raptor is not all that it is cracked up to be.

      Should Canada select the Rafale or the Gripen, it might be wise to establish the support structure and how it is going to work. Past experience with some countries using Mirage III's and F-1's were they were hung out to dry for getting components through the repair cycle pipeline. Don't know about SAAB.

      I like your report about the smaller fighter having the advantage. In the first Red Flag exercises between the F-5 and the F-15, the best air to air footage of the F-15 came from the gun camera of an F-5.

  22. I appreciate you being very factual and honest in this blog, taxpayers (and MoDs) around the word deserve no less.

    Have you seen the 'bid-spec' of the Rafale and Gripen E range for Brazil? It shows they have similar action radius with Rafale @ 1700 and Gripen E @ >1700:
    (Also notice how Dassault try to 'brag' comparing false number while Saab is neutral)

    Is this relevant for your comparison maybe?

    Another comparison on EW/Radar/etc to F-35 is found here:

    1. Interesting links, thanks.

      I notice how neither slide indicated whether or not external fuel was used. Makes you wonder if numbers are being "fudged".

      As for the Gripen's AESA radar, I think being to rotate the disc to improve coverage angle is ingenious.

    2. I know, I made a note of that too but I figured its still valuable data since the conditions to the both fighters are exactly the same the data (while it theoretically could be an 'offset' to that of other fighters, due to ev. pod setup etc) is still true compared to each other. ie while comparing only those two fighters to each other.

      Also a thought on your comments about Saab dropping out of the contest, just so you know, Saab is very keen on setting up further collaborations (so is the gov btw) and selling aircraft systems to other countries (Canada and Denmark especially) but they learned a lot from the Norway 'incident' - That they were way too naive. They will not enter a 'competition' in which its obvious a winner has already been chosen, that is nothing but free PR and grave misconduct from the officials. The 'drop-out' was only to show that the 'competition' was fake and they will (very) gladly enter on equal terms with the competitors.

  23. In response to Anonymous on 7 March, one thing to remember about marketers is they will say and do just about anything to make the sale. I wouldn’t imagine Dassault would make a comparison with the F/A-18 and Gripen and make those aircraft look better. And I wouldn’t imagine they would fudge the stats? The slide was prepared for Brazil. Curiously their concentric circles centered on Brasilia or thereabouts. Most of the bases where F-5’s are stationed are close to the northern border or around Sao Paulo.

    The Brazilian Air Force introduced the F-5 to their inventory in the mid-1970s or around forty years ago. Through upgrades and life extension programmes, the aircraft has served and survived. When the first cadre of US Air Force training personnel arrived in Brazil for transition training to the F-5, they observed quite a few Mirage IIIs parked on the edge of the field that were unserviceable. They were told the reason for this was their engines could not be worked on by Brazilian technicians and had to be sent back to France for repair. The backlog in the repair cycle was around one year. A similar situation existed with other major components on the aircraft. Whether this explanation is true, I cannot confirm. I do know that today, having worked with ATR, the French have a very different speed at which they serve the customer which can usually be measured with a multi-year calendar. What did happen was the Mirage III which is a very capable aircraft was retired by the Brazilians in 2005 to have their air defence capability taken up by what many have considered a second rate one.

    In a previous post here I mentioned the issue of maintainability. This also translates into life cycle costs and availability. Having a kick-ass aircraft parked on the edge of the ramp does little good when bandits are headed towards targets in your country. The F-5 is an excellent point defence fighter. It is highly maintainable as systems are simple and easy to repair. The Brazilians have made arrangements to lease Gripens until their showroom ready batch can be delivered. Wikipedia quotes:

    “On January 5, 2010, after lobbying by Air Force Officers and Commanders, it was reported that the final evaluation report by the Brazilian Air Force placed the Saab Gripen NG ahead of the other contenders. The decisive factor was apparently the overall cost of the new fighters, both in terms of unit cost, and operating and maintenance costs, and the personal preference of the test pilots. Rafale was reported to not even be the second choice.”

    While there are those that question the reliability of Wikipedia, the quote came from I’ll leave it to those who can translate from Swedish.

    The Gripen already has a reputation for reliability and maintainability. Every aircraft has its shortcomings and its detractors. Again, the issue is what makes sense for Canada. I would suggest the politicians listen to the needs of those who have the experience in the service. We can’t always make the best choice for future needs. Warfare has changed in many ways since the end of the Cold War. Operational commitments and alliances are also shifting. Our crystal balls are somewhat cloudy. Perhaps the best solution would be the cheapest and easiest to maintain as opposed to looking for ‘deals’. (I would question how Dassault would benefit from having Rafale’s built in Canada.) Whatever shortcomings the final aircraft selected has, service people have been managing workarounds forever.

  24. Papi, you wrote "Over the last 5 years Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon have come to Red Flag. With their advanced EW suites and superior data links Gripen and Rafale in 2,4,6 & 7 aircraft linked radars(quasi phased array)had no problem locating F-22 Raptors and remaining undetected by everything but big powerful radar scans, which would have lead to their death by Meteor. Raptor pilots reported these smaller fighters were upon them WVR before the F-22s vaunted electronics suite could detect them, the smaller Gripen was within gun fighting range before being detected. Raptor pilots were forced to go vertical and escape most of the time using their huge P&W at full AB, not a very good technique against a average pilot with a mid 1960s vintage heat seeking missile. Last years Red Flag Alaska was highlighted by German Typhoons using similar tactic to wax Raptors left and right. At the farewell dinner there were no caterers, losers cook for the winners, Raptor pilots did the cooking."

    Do you have any conformation on those stories?

  25. Based on the numbers I get from internet research, the thrust-to-weight ratios you list for the F-35, Rafale, and Gripen (0.87, 0.99 and 1.06 respectively) would require the following:

    F-35 carrying 20,125 lbs load vs Rafale carrying 13,443 lbs load vs Gripen carrying 4,475 lbs load.

    That doesn't seem like a fair comparison to me.

    Below are the numbers I'm getting.
    Notice from these numbers that the total load carrying capacities of these aircraft are:
    40,700 lbs for the F-35
    33,100 lbs for the Rafale
    18,400 lbs for the Gripen

    28,000 lbs = Total Dry Thrust
    43,000 lbs = Total Thrust With Afterburner
    29,300 lbs = Empty Weight
    70,000 lbs = Max. Takeoff Weight
    40,700 lbs = Load Carrying Ability (Max. Wt - Empty Wt)
    1.468 = Afterburner Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio
    0.614 = Afterburner Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    0.956 = Dry Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio
    0.400 = Dry Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio

    22,500 lbs = Total Dry Thrust
    34,000 lbs = Total Thrust With Afterburner
    20,900 lbs = Empty Weight
    54,000 lbs = Max. Takeoff Weight
    33,100 lbs = Load Carrying Ability (Max. Wt - Empty Wt)
    0.630 = Afterburner Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    1.627 = Afterburner Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio
    0.417 = Dry Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    1.077 = Dry Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio

    12,100 lbs = Total Dry Thrust
    18,100 lbs = Total Thrust With Afterburner
    12,600 lbs = Empty Weight
    31,000 lbs = Max. Takeoff Weight
    18,400 lbs = Load Carrying Ability (Max. Wt - Empty Wt)
    0.584 = Afterburner Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    1.437 = Afterburner Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio
    0.390 = Dry Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    0.960 = Dry Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio

    Here's what you list as "the" thrust-to-weight ratios (TWR)
    for these aircraft:
    0.87 = F-35
    0.99 = Rafale
    1.06 = Gripen

    To get your numbers, here's what you'd have to do:

    F-35 On Dry Thrust:
    28,000/X = 0.87 --> X = 32,184 lbs = Total Aircraft Weight @ 0.87 TWR
    32,184 - 29,300 = 2,884 lbs = Aircraft Load @ 0.87 TWR

    F-35 On Afterburner:
    43,000/X = 0.87 --> X = 49,425 lbs = Total Aircraft Weight @ 0.87 TWR
    49,425 - 29,300 = 20,125 lbs = Aircraft Load @ 0.87 TWR

    Rafale On Dry Thrust:
    22,500/X = 0.99 --> X = 22,727 lbs = Total Aircraft Weight @ 0.99 TWR
    22,727 - 20,900 = 1,827 lbs = Aircraft Load @ 0.99 TWR

    Rafale On Afterburner:
    34,000/X = 0.99 --> X = 34,343 lbs = Total Aircraft Weight @ 0.99 TWR
    34,343 - 20,900 = 13,443 lbs = Aircraft Load @ 0.99 TWR

    Gripen On Dry Thrust:
    12,100/X = 1.06 --> X = 11,415 lbs = NOT POSSIBLE
    To achieve a TWR of 1.06 on dry thrust would require a lighter aircraft.

    Gripen on Afterburner:
    18,100/X = 1.06 --> X = 17,075 lbs = Total Aircraft Weight @ 1.06 TWR
    17,075 - 12,600 = 4,475 lbs Aircraft Load @ 1.06 TWR

  26. In response to Anonymous on 15 March, the F-35 doesn't look so bad now. Wonder how it stacks up against the F/A-18E/F?

  27. Gripen version E:
    ?? lbs = Total Dry Thrust
    22,000 lbs = Total Thrust With Afterburner
    ?? lbs = Empty Weight
    36,400 lbs = Max. Takeoff Weight
    18,400 lbs = Load Carrying Ability (Max. Wt - Empty Wt)
    ?? = Afterburner Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    ?? = Afterburner Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio
    ?? = Dry Thrust/Max. Weight Ratio
    ?? = Dry Thrust/Empty Weight Ratio

    Just to show that the values given for the Gripen is wrong, French disinformation I guess.
    You can't mix values from different versions of the same plane, thrust from earlier version with TWR from newer version doesn't give the correct answers. It might be OK for Frenchies but not the rest of the world.

    1. I'm not French, I'm American. I thought you were telling me that I got the thrust wrong for the Gripen, but it appears you are giving me the expected thrust of a Gripen version E that doesn't even exist yet.

  28. I think a more fair evaluation of the thrust to weight ration is to use what I'm calling the "Even Match TWR".
    The Values below rank some modern aircraft by this value = A:
    A = Even Match TWR = Afterburner Thrust / (Empty Weight + 3,500lbs Fuel + 2,000lbs Load)
    B = Combat TWR = Afterburner Thrust / (Empty Weight + 50% Fuel + 2000lbs Load)
    C = Combat Wing Loading = (Empty Weight + 50% Fuel + 2000lbs Load) / Wing Area (sq feet)
    D = Total Afterburner Thrust (lbs)
    E = Maximum Takeoff Weight (lbs)
    F = Empty Weight (lbs)
    G = Max. Load Carrying Ability = E - F (lbs)
    H = Max. Internal Fuel Load (lbs)
    I = Wing Area (sq feet)

    A B C D E F G H I
    F-15E 1.559 1.435 66.5 58000 81000 31700 49300 13455 608
    F-22 1.433 1.288 64.7 70000 83500 43340 40160 18000 840
    Su-35 1.385 1.158 82.6 63800 76060 40570 35490 25014 667
    Eurofighter 1.360 1.274 57.6 40460 51800 24250 27550 11020 551
    MiG-35 1.331 1.256 77.1 39600 65500 24250 41250 10582 409
    Su-27 1.325 1.137 72.7 55120 67100 36100 31000 20724 667
    Rafale 1.288 1.211 57.1 34000 54000 20900 33100 10360 492
    Su-30 1.238 1.070 77.2 55120 76060 39021 37039 20944 667
    F-35A 1.236 1.064 87.9 43000 70000 29300 40700 18250 460
    MiG-29 1.226 1.212 73.9 36600 44100 24350 19750 7716 409
    F-16 1.172 1.174 81.2 28600 42300 18900 23400 6930 300
    F-18E 1.171 1.066 82.6 44000 66000 32081 33919 14400 500
    F-35B 1.138 1.048 89.2 43000 60000 32300 27700 13500 460
    F-35C 1.067 0.921 69.9 43000 70000 34800 35200 19750 668
    Gripen 1.000 0.994 56.4 18100 31000 12600 18400 7220 323

    Using this "Even Match TWR" puts the Gripen at the bottom of the list. If you sort this data, you'll see that the Gripen is also very poor at Combat TWR and Load Carrying Ability. The only category at which it is among the best is Combat Wing Loading. The F-35A is excellent at Load Carrying Ability, mid-pack at Even Match TWR (slightly better than a MiG-29), and bottom third of the pack for the other categories.
    This data does make the Rafale look like a very good multi-role aircraft. It's near the top of the list in more categories than the F-35A. But there are other factors to consider, like the importance of that new helmet in the F-35 that will allow the pilot to see through aircraft's structure, the electronic multi-system environment planned for the F-35, stealthiness, and the possibility that the thrust of the F-35's engine will grow as it is developed by experience.
    So, I think it's between the F-35 and the Rafale. I don't see the Gripen as a serious contender. It's not really a multi-role aircraft. It's a one-trick pony: agile, short range interceptor. That's it. I would think Canada needs something more versatile than that.

    1. So... You're comparing a Gripen with 3,500lbs of fuel against much larger, twin engined fighters with 3,500lbs of fuel?

      Monsters like the F-22, F-15, and Su-35 will burn fuel at a much higher rate. Ditto twin engine fighters like the Rafale and Super Hornet. Hell, even the F-16 uses more fuel. It's a bigger fighter with a bigger engine.

      While your "Even Match TWR" looks impressive, its based on the flawed assumption that all aircraft burn through the exact same amount of fuel at the same rate. This is like saying a Mazda Miata gets the same gas mileage as a Dodge Viper. Sure, I'd prefer to drive a Viper, but could never afford one.

      At the end of the day, its an irrelevant argument anyway. Can the Gripen E perform the same job as the current CF-18? Yes. Can it do it better? Almost in every way. Can it do it better than some of the others? Debatable. Can it do it cheaper? Absolutely.

    2. If you don't like the "Even Match TWR", sort them by "Combat TWR", which is the case when each aircraft is carrying a 2000lb load + 50% internal fuel. In that case, the F-35A still has a higher TWR than the Gripen. But, Anderanderson alerted me to something I didn't know about - the proposed Gripen E/F. But I can't fill in most of the data for it because that aircraft is just an idea at this point. He says it will have 22000lbs total thrust, but what will the empty weight be? We don't know. What will the internal fuel capacity be? We don't know. As for the cost, check out this article about the Australian F-35s:
      According to this article, the expected cost of the F-35 has dropped to $80-85 million each. Of course, keeping that cost as low as possible depends on our allies like Canada NOT backing out of the program. The existing Gripen (according to Wikipedia - someone correct me if my info is wrong here) costs $69 million. I have to expect the Gripen E will cost more than that. Wikipedia lists the Rafale at $90.5 million. In the end, I think Canada should worry more about what they need their fighter to do and less about the unit cost. Traditionally, Canada has been concerned about Russian bombers flying over their territory, and they've spend a lot of time intercepting them. You don't need a dog fighter to shoot down bombers. Maybe you don't need a stealthy aircraft, either. But I think everyone would agree long range is a big plus given the vast expanses of territory you must protect. Thinking of that, the F-15 looks pretty good. It's got lots of range. It can bomb. It can carry a lot of air-to-air missiles. It's still king of TWR. The latest in-production version (F-15K) is listed at $100 million, though.

    3. If you are unfamiliar with the Gripen E/F (aka NG) then I suggest you read more of what I have posted on this blog, as well as information available elsewhere.

      The Gripen E/F will be to the Gripen C/D as the F-18E/F Super Hornet is to the F-18C/D Hornet. Its design has pretty much been finalized, a demonstrator has flown, and production has started. I am not advocating the legacy Gripens for Canada, just the newer E/F models with increased power, range, payload, and upgraded technology.

      If you wish to critique me, that's fine, but please do some research inform yourself first. Don't come at me with guesses and assumptions.

      As far as that article goes: '"We are pretty confident we are going to get there," General Bogdan told reporters of the drop to $US80-85 million.'

      "Confidence" does not promise a price drop. Far from it. The evidence points to the F-35 increasing in price, not dropping. It's behind schedule, orders are being cut, and production is being delayed.

    4. On 10 April 2006, a Raptor stationed at Langley AFB, VA, aborted its takeoff due to a canopy unlock light. The pilot attempted to cycle the canopy open but it wouldn’t budge. The pilot was trapped in the cockpit for the next five hours as maintenance tried to extract the pilot by manually opening the canopy to no avail. (Reference Considering that this would be one of the more important things stated in the aircraft’s specification (getting the pilot out in an emergency), this would not have been a problem if it had been designed and tested properly. Oh by the way, these are the same people that are bringing us the F-35.

      Consider from the time the New USAF Fighter Aircraft award was given to Lockheed (they had two prototypes to work with), it took fourteen more years before the aircraft entered service. Lockheed has had a reputation for quoting one number and once you have been hooked, the price goes up. Personally, I am as confident in Lockheed as I am in Airbus and their software labs. Squirrely would be putting it mildly.

      I truly wish Canada would quit worrying about being the also ran when it comes to aviation. How many countries around the world build fighter aircraft? Not many and only a handful do it on their own.

      So what becomes important? Mission? Cost? Supportability? If Canada wishes to throw its hat into the ring of fighter aircraft manufacturers, it is going to have to come up with one heck of a world beater. Just look at the competition. I wouldn’t worry about being the US’s little buddy either. The relationship between military organisations on either side of the border is secure as each respects the other. What concerns me is Ottawa and the politicians. They don’t seem to care too much for the well-being of the armed services. Neglect is the watchword in so many areas.

      Since there is so much to repair with the total force structure, not just a replacement fighter, the inexpensive option would be the better one to allow additional programmes to begin procurement of new equipment to replace other aging systems. We should quit agonizing and make a decision.

    5. It is crucial to do an apple-by-apple comparison. The F-35 will always appear to be at a disadvantage when calculating internal fuel simply because it has a huge amount of it (ie. a fuel fraction 30 percent above most fighters). It was designed to do its mission without external tanks. Same applies to the Flanker family. In other words: When the F-35 enters an arial combat half-way its mission profile it has burned off much more relative internal fuel than other fighters.

      So when comparing TTW and wing loading it makes much more sense to compare this based on similar fuel fraction weight, which will tend to display similar endurance or range performances.

      In this way the F-35 is certainly not a stellar performer, but still comparable to most current fighters, in particular in MIL or unagumented thrust.

    6. You will notice that the F-35 has a fairly comparable range to the others when flying internal fuel only. While it does have a clear advantage over "4th gen" fighters like the F-18 and F-16, that advantage disappears when compared to "4+ gen" fighters like the Typhoon.

      What truly matters isn't whether an aircraft is fully fueled or not, what matters is how the aircraft performs with enough fuel to do the job. I would argue that the option to add or delete external tanks offers much more flexibility.

  29. Some data:

    Dassault Rafale C

    Length: 15,30 m
    Wing span: 10,8 m
    Height: 5,34 m
    Wing area: 45,7 m (wing only)

    Turn rates:
    32-35 deg/s max. instanteneous (32 more likely)
    24-26 deg/s sustained
    30-32 deg/s instananeous at sea level
    23,9-26,3 deg/s sustained at sea level
    28,1 deg/s sustained at 15.000 feet
    290 deg/s roll (270 deg/s with centerline tank)

    Climb rate:
    >250 m/s in air policing configuration
    305 m/s maximum

    Wing loading:
    275 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 6 MICA
    327 kg/m2 AtA takeoff

    Thrust-to-Weight ratio: (thrust: 9 952 kgf dry, 15 078 kgf afterburner)
    1,20 with 50% fuel, 6 MICA
    1,01 air-to-air takeoff weight

    Fuel fraction:
    0,33 (9 550 kg empty, 4 720 kg fuel)

    9 550 kg empty (9 850 kg operational empty)
    12 582 kg with 50% fuel, 6 MICA
    14 942 kg AtA takeoff (100% fuel, 6 MICA)
    24 500 kg maximum takeoff

    Maximum AoA: 100*
    Operational AoA: 29*
    Corner speed: 360 kt for 9 g sustained turn rate

    Mach 2,0-2,1 dash
    Mach 1,8 sustained
    Mach 1,4 supercruise w 6 AAM (M 1,6 possible with 90 kN engine)
    Mach 0,93 cruise in long-range strike configuration

    Combat radius
    1 200 km on internal fuel
    1 852 km on a penetration mission

    Snecma M88:
    Thrust: 10 971 lbf / 4 976 kgf dry, 16 620 lbf / 7 539 kgf reheat each

    RBE2 PESA:
    Range: 139 km vs 5m2 target

    RBE2 AESA:
    208 km vs 5m2 target
    278 km vs 5m2 target when coupled with SPECTRA

    IR detection range vs subsonic fighters: 80 km from front, 130 km from rear
    Laser ranging capability: 33 km
    TV camera range: 45 km

    range for firing solution with <1* precision: 200 km

    IR missile warners with 360 degree coverage
    designed to detect missiles from launch (range >50 km)

    RCS: 0,06 m2
    (with SPECTRA and AtA load: 0,06 m2)

    G load
    9 g operational (design limit load)
    11 g with override
    16,65 g structural (ultimate limid load - 185% of design limit load in Rafale's case - C is downgraded M)

    Seat angle: 29 degrees

    service ceilling 18.000 m

    Eurofighter Typhoon T2

    Length: 15,96 m
    Wing span: 10,95 m
    Height: 5,28 m
    Wing area: 50 m2 (wing only)
    Canard area: 1,2 m2

    Turn rates:*
    30-35 deg/s instanteneous
    20-25 deg/s sustained
    29,3-30,2 deg/s instantaneous at sea level
    23,4-25,1 deg/s sustained at sea level
    240 – 250 deg/s roll (200 according to some other info)

    Climb rates:
    >200 m/s in air policing configuration
    315 m/s maximum

    Wing loading:
    340,2 kg/m2 loaded (AtA)
    290,8 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM

    Fuel fraction:
    0,31 (11 285 kg empty, 4 940 kg fuel)

    11 285 kg empty
    14 538,6 kg with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder
    17 009 kg loaded
    23 500 kg maximum takeoff

    12 236 kgf dry (60 kN / 6118 kgf per engine)
    18 354 kgf afterburner (90 kN / 9177 kgf per engine)
    14 072 kgf war setting dry (69 kN / 7036 kgf per engine)
    19 374 kgf war setting afterburner (95 kN / 9687 kgf per engine)
    ("war setting" is not tested and may require new parts)

    Thrust-to-Weight ratio:
    1,08 AtA takeoff
    1,26 with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM

    Maximum AoA: 70*; 40* operational
    Corner speed: 360 kt

    Mach 2 dash
    Mach 1,8 sustained
    Mach 1,5 supercruise w 6 AAM
    Mach 1,4 supercruise w 6 AAM, 1 supersonic fuel tank

    Combat radius
    Ground attack, lo-lo-lo: 601 km
    Ground attack, hi-lo-hi: 1 389 km
    Air defence with 3-hr combat air patrol: 185 km
    Air defence with 10-min. loiter: 1 389 km (with centerline tank)
    Air defence: 1 100 km (internal fuel only)

    Thrust: 13 500 lbf dry, 20 250 lbf reheat

    Range: 185 km vs 3m2 target

    Range: 185-216 km vs 3m2 target

    IR detection range vs subsonic fighters: 90 km from front, 145 km from rear

    RCS: 0,6 m2

    G load
    9 g operational
    11 G override
    12,6 G structural (G load factor 1,4)

  30. Saab Gripen A

    Wing area: 25,54 m2; 30 m2 with canards

    6600 kg empty
    kg with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder
    kg with 100% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

    Fuel fraction: 0,29 (5700 kg empty weight, 2270 kg fuel "piece setting", 2400 kg fuel war setting)

    Wing loading (with canards):
    kg/m2 with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder
    kg/m2 with 100% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

    Wing loading (without canards):
    kg/m2 with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder
    kg/m2 with 100% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

    Saab Gripen C

    Length: 14,1 m
    Wing span: 8,4 m
    Height: 4,5 m
    Wing area: 25,54 m2; 30 m2 with canards

    Turn rates:
    30 deg/s instanteneous (possibly more ?)
    20 deg/s sustained
    >250 deg/s roll (90*/s @ 89* AoA)

    Climb rates:
    >200 m/s in air policing configuration

    Wing loading (with canards):
    333 kg/m2 with 100% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder
    293 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder
    273 kg/m2 with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

    Thrust-to-Weight ratio: (80,51 kN - 18 100 lbf (8 210 kgf) - thrust)
    0,82 with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder
    1,08 with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

    Fuel fraction:
    0,28 (6 250 kg empty, 2 400 kg fuel)

    5.488 kgf dry
    8.210 kgf wet

    6 800 kg operational empty
    8 175 kg with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder
    8 783 kg with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder
    9 375 kg with 100% fuel, 2 Sidewinder
    9 983 kg with 100% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM
    14 000 kg max takeoff

    Maximum AoA: 100 - 110 *; 50 * operational

    Mach 2,0 dash
    Mach 1,1 cruise

    Combat radius:
    Ground attack, lo-lo-lo: 650 km

    Range: 120-147 km vs 5m2 target (80 km vs 1m2 target)

    RCS: 0,6 m2 with AtA load

    G factor
    9 G operational
    12 G override
    13,5 structural

    min. takeoff distance: 650 m
    min. landing distance: 550 m

    *many data commonly used for C are based on A version


    Length: 14,9 m
    Wing area:
    28 m2 without canards
    32,46 m2 with canards

    Wing loading:


    6.820 kg empty
    7.000 kg operational empty
    10.933 kg combat takeoff (?)
    9.368 kg combat (?)

    Fuel fraction
    0,31 (7.000 kg op. empty, 3.510 kg fuel)

    6.500 kgf dry
    10.200 kgf afterburner

    Mach 1,2 supercruise w 2 IRIS-T, 4 AMRAAM, centerline tank @ 25.000 ft
    Mach 1,3 supercruise in combat configuration @ 40.000 feet

    Service ceilling: 15.250 m

  31. Since there has been no activity since the data was offered by Picard578, I'll break the ice. Sharing data sets does not an aircraft buy. Benjamin Disraeli stated there are lies, damn lies and statistics. We are still crystal balling a future that is very murky at best. The usefulness of a weapons system is measured in how effective it is. Experience in war with other aircraft and weapons has shown us that the superior weapon is not always the winner. In the case of Canada, having two engines may still be a critical factor in selection of an aircraft. That narrows it down to the Rafale, Typhoon and the Super Hornet. The F-35 and Gripen aren't even players then. Given the experience the RCAF has had with the F-18 already, transitioning to the E/F would be simple. Go ask the Australians. Additionally, compatibility with current stocks of spares could save millions. And there would not be a need to get a flying boom for tankers to accommodate the F-35. (Hallelujah!) The Super Hornet may not be a stealthy as the F-35. But is that the only concern? As much as I like the Gripen, I don't think it is right for Canada. The F-18 has a proven support record. The Brits and the French are still light years behind the Americans. From what is available on the market today, the F/A-18E/F makes more sense than anything else. Let the comments begin.

    1. Correct, data are not everything. What is important is how well an aircraft fits air force's operational realities (not requirements, since those can be "massaged" and oftentimes differ from reality). Rafale is the best air superiority fighter out there, but it wouldn't be able to use existing stocks of Sidewinders and AMRAAMs. Gripen C is a good choice since it has commonality with Hornet (RM-12 is a development of F-404) while Gripen E will use F-414, which should be similar to the F-404 in some ways at least. Gripens also use same missiles as US fighters. But while Sweden never has any serious trouble, Canada is a larger country, so twin-engined fighter might be a good idea. F-18E is quite a low performance.

  32. you are just .....american

  33. The Super Hornet is no brainer since the Canucks already operate older model Hornets. I say so because the Canucks won't spend a dime more than they have to. They have always depended on the USA to take up their slack because the country does not believe in a strong military.

    That being said, the Rafael is an airplane thats very expensive and of questionable quality. They have sold any of them to anyone but India, now they seem to be backing out. I do not think they give those planes away.

    The Gripen is a great plane but it does not come close to the capabilites of any of the other planes, so cross that one out.

    The Typhoon is an excellent plane with awesome capabilities. It's battle tested but very expensive, so the Canucks will bypass that one.

    This leaves the F-35. This is a plane that is still being developed and has not reached it's full potential yet. This is a robust platform that will prove to be an excellent, but expensive airplane plane. The advantage it has over all of these other planes is that it is a 5th generation fully stealth airplane. None of the others are 5th generation or stealth, thats why the F-35 is going to be great but expensive plane.

    With all that being said, the Canucks need to buy Super Hornets and quit bitching about price of the F-35. For the money, the Super Hornet will deliver the most capabilities and value the Canucks.

  34. I think the Rafale is a great aircraft for Canada and for any other country out there who also contributes to international missions apart from their country's own air defense. The only thing I find unsuccessful for the Rafale are its engines which at 34000 kN (accdg to your post here, and btw you forgot the units) is relatively small for a two-engine fighter. I think giving it more powerful engines will finally pitch it up in the foreign market for the requirements of other air forces.

    Another is its weapons capability which utilize almost only french made. The payload is good but I think integrating more kinds of weapons like the IRIS-T, AIM-9, AIM-120 AMRAAM etc. would do good to the future of the Rafale as a whole.

    What do you think of what I think? I would like to hear your insights on this also.

    And how about a hi-lo mix of Gripen and Rafale? Is that even feasible?

    Thanks and Peace from the Philippines...hoping to soon get our own MRF also.

    1. Paul, I think it's going to be really hard for Canada to step away from the purchase of the F35. In the media you can see the pressure that's being put on Canada and any order reductions will reduce the overall acquisition costs. I think the only alternative we will get out of this political mess is to have a mixed fleet. The US has already stated the F35 is not air superiority and will need the F22 for that role, so Canada will need a second plane. The Rafale would make a great choice to fly with the F35 and maybe Canada could even negotiate a retractable fueling arm as a modification. Other's have posted that weapons compatibility is a small issue and could be included in acquisition negotiations. The Rafale's performance, dual engines, acquisition and operation costs make it very attractable. Plus technology transfer and economic offsets look competitive.

      I think the dark horse solution wouldn't be a Gripen/Rafael fleet but a combination of Gripen, Growler and JSF. Doug had already alluded to a possible SAAB, BOEING partnership for Canada. If the Conservatives were being proactive they would announce an open competition for a fighter that would not only bridge the gap of the F35 but compliment when its ready. They could then sit back until the F35 development is complete and the overall costs come down, if ever.

  35. In response to Anonymous on 20 April, American is spelled with a capital A. And is that really the best you can do?

    With regards to Paul and Shawn’s comments as to a mixed fleet – given the admitted stinginess of Parliament, bringing on more programme offices, more bureaucracy to manage two or more type aircraft along with all the support train that goes with them, the cost would be horrendous. As for praying to heaven for divine intervention to bring the cost of the F-35 down, don’t hold your breath.

    In these posts I have harped on the importance of support. It isn’t just performance or cost. I am reminded of the quote from Stephen Ambrose’s book, "The Victors" where a German officer is watching US forces stream down the autobahn and says, “We had never seen how a rich man makes war before.” Canada is not a big country in terms of population. It has a problem in defending a huge land mass with a coastline of gigantic proportions. How can it do this and contribute to joint missions with limited resources?

    Some of the comments/posts in this blog seem to emanate from a slight sense of inferiority. I can’t imagine why. Canada does not possess the resources in terms of money and a population to even think of competing with the US. So what? Neither can Uganda with a slightly larger population than Canada. I drive a Ford and I don’t feel resentful towards the Maserati that pulls up alongside me at a stop light. So why the inferiority complex?

    The US government and the Canadian government were hoodwinked by Lockheed. The F-22 was the wrong aircraft too. (I’m not being prejudiced either, the F-23 was superior in performance.) The F-35 was supposed to be the air to mud aircraft that was to take on the strike mission while the F-22 flew cover. They stuck an “F” in front of the number instead of an “A” for attack. It is still a primarily air to mud aircraft.

    If any legislators (MP’s) are reading this stuff, they may come away with a better understanding of what it is they are buying. If you are looking to buy an air superiority fighter, the F-15 line is still open. Nobody has shot one down in air to air yet and you might get a good deal on Strike Eagles. As for bang for the buck, I’d still go to St. Louis for F/A-18E/F’s. F-15 users now number six with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the US. F-18 users number eight with Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Kuwait, Australia, Malaysia, Spain and the US. The French are still trying to peddle the Rafale to other countries. The Swedes have had more success with the Gripen but if we stick to the two engine philosophy and longer legs, sorry, it doesn’t cut it. The Typhoon? I must agree with my Anonymous detractor that it is too costly.

    They are all great machines for their designed missions. But only the Strike Eagle and the F/A-18 are truly multirole. The others have had to compromise in some fashion or another to meet both missions.

    And hey Anonymous, I’ll share a cold one with you (I’m buying) any day you want to have a serious discussion about this and many other subjects. I'll also share my credentials with you too. You will find me on the beach in Hawaii. I can’t wait for RIMPAC 2014 – the Chinese will be here. This could be interesting.

    1. Vic, I would like to respond to two of your points:

      1. Protecting Canada's huge land mass.

      I was recently reflecting on the same topic and then I realized any aggressors would have the same challenges as us. From a jet fighter perspective they would be limited to fuel range just like us. As such they would need to rely on air tankers, long range bombers or aircraft carriers etc. Aircraft carriers fleets are limited these days and would need to sail past the US, UK etc. which to me reduces the probability. The logistics of deploying a fighter fleet to Canada seems complicated which really just leaves bombers as the main threat. But, to protect us from these unlikely threats we need to patrol our skies and monitor our land masses and sea lanes. Why would we use expensive aircraft like the F35, F15, Eurofighter, or Super Hornet with higher operating costs for routine surveillance, reconnaissance missions. F16's and Gripen have low acquisition and low operating costs (I know single engine but we want the F35 already). If you run the numbers on the US Air force the F16 makes up 65% of their fighter aircraft, and they fly in Alaska. The F16 is used for more routine operations due to cost and the F15 for air superiority engagements. For Canada's purposes that would be about 42 light fighter jets.

      2. Canada affording a mixed fleet.

      Based on the previous numbers Canada buy's 42 Gripens for air patrol operations. Brazil paid 4.5 billion for 36 so I will just say 4.5 for 42 Gripens because increased sales reduces the overall acquisition costs. This also reduces the proposed 46 billion lifecycle requirements because the Gripen flight/hour costs are at least a quarter of the F35. Boeing teams up with SAAB and offers the Super Hornet as an interim solution to extend the life of Hornets and bridge until the Gripens are delivered. Say about 8 Growlers and 10 SH for another 1.8 Billion and reduces operation costs again. Then a miracle happens and the F35 is selling for $80 million in 2019 and we buy 30 for 2.4 billion. So our total costs are:

      42 Gripens @ $4.5 billion
      18 Growlers/SH @ $1.8 billion
      30 F35 @ $ 2.4 billion
      Total $8.7 billion
      I just saved ~.5billion on acquisition, reduced risks of single fighter, and increased fleet by 25 planes.

      I will call the lifecycle costs a push because the operational savings will be required to operate mixed fleets. However, Canada already operates over 20 aircraft so I think they can find shared economies between the different areas.

      So we have an economical fighter for airspace patrol, twin engine air superiority to back up Gripens and F35 and of course the F35 for Nato missions. Although the F15 might be better for Air superiority but cost a little more.

      There you have it the perfect plan that nobody can argue against.

  36. I think it's important to remember that two engines are superior than one when you're patrolling the far north hundreds of kilometers from an airfield so that excludes the F-35 and the Gripen. In my opinion the Eurofighter is the best choice. The Super hornet is barely an improvement over the current CF-188 not to mention it uses more fuel and requires more maintenance than it's competitors. The Rafale is not compatible with most weapons already used by the RCAF and it's slower an less agile than the Eurofighter. Supercruise, two engines, low maintenance, good fuel economy, quick, nimble, large payload, world class. The Eurofighter is the obvious choice. Or maybe even a high-low mix like most other countries have done, EF and SH maybe? Just my thoughts.

  37. Guys, If we as SAFFERS, with a bit of 'outside' help, managed to develop the Cheetah from a Mirage III at the time, what is the problem here? Only politicians and marketing Trolls are the big stumbling block...............

  38. While this has been fun to speculate and dream about what Canada should or could procure as a replacement to the F-18, the reality is we don’t make the decisions. There are folks in Ottawa at a higher pay grade that will make the ultimate decision. Given the current circumstances in the world’s geopolitical scene, vis-à-vis Russia and the Ukraine, that picture may be coming into better focus. What Russia has proved is that NATO, the United States or any of the European countries can’t do diddley about Mr. Putin and his intentions.

    So are we back to the same Cold War strategy? George Friedman of STRATFOR Global Intelligence offers an interesting view of the current political challenge based on the past one hundred plus years of history in European affairs. His essay can be found at:

    Russia may not be prepared to take on the West at this time but in today’s world, things happen rapidly. I’m not suggesting that Mr. Friedman’s interpretation is correct either. I would like to think that nations as a whole have grown up in the past one hundred years. However, one man in a position where he can do some damage can also follow Murphy’s Law in that if something can go wrong, it will.

    So we can continue to speculate, pass data sets back and forth and argue the attributes of various war machines. The problem remains: Old airplanes need to be replaced. If we go to war now, how long will it take to get up to rate production on a new replacement? This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Going to war can.

  39. Crikey, it's been better than two weeks since there have been any comments. I can't be the one to have the last word! Perhaps what is needed is action. I don't know what influence these sorts of blogs have but perhaps a note to your MP would be in order. They buy those things with tax dollars. Whose money is that? I'm still sticking with my choice of the F-15E or some version suitable for Canada similar to what has been done for Singapore and South Korea or the F/A-18E/F. It's got to be multi-role and two engines.

    1. F-15 well but do not landing on the ship. You can't rest on the ship. You can rest when are allowed only by country that you go.

  40. What about the advanced Super Hornet? Wouldn't that be an option since we are taking so long to pick a fighter jet?

    1. The Advanced Super Hornet is still very much a concept right now, much like the F-15SE Silent Eagle. It has yet to receive any orders and has so far been entirely funded by Boeing. There simply isn't any info to post, as it exists solely as a mock up.

      That being said, the proposed improvements to the ASM make it a much more attractive option. More power, stealth enhancements, and improved sensors and avionics are always a good thing.

  41. Advanced Super Hornet is flying.

    As for the F-15, take the Singapore model.

    With either, all roads lead to St. Louis.

  42. Hi all from the Czech republic, central Europe. The Czech Air Force is currently using 14 JAS-39C/D leasing them form the Swedish government for 10 years since 2005 and has prolonged the contract for next 12 years lately. I tried to read all the comments but it is over my capabilities. I have read many comments concerning the TWR whether or not thaving the latest TTD but let me one simple question. Has anyone of you concerned about the Air-Air Refueling system? The F-35A is the only with boom-receptacle system while the others use the drogue-probe one. I know it might not be a problem on the north america´s continent however in a multinational deployment somewhere else it might be a factor. And what´s more it is another way how armed forces are to be dependent on the U.S. (produced/operated) tanker aircraft... think it over well Canada before you err.

  43. Aloha Anonymous,

    I’m not sure what TTD or TWR are but let me answer a few of your concerns.

    SAAB, Sweden and the Gripen are also dependent on US made parts. The aviation community in the Western World is incestuous. (Even Sukhoi uses material and end items from Western suppliers.) You will find parts made in Italy on the C-17, parts made in Great Britain on the B-1B and American and Canadian parts on just about anybody’s airplanes around the world. And in today’s world, there are very few second sources so there is a huge problem with potential single point failures in supply with major end items.

    In Flight Refueling (IFR) with the F-35 could cause Canada to go out and purchase a couple of boomed aircraft that would be dedicated to the F-35 or using the option of USAF tankers which are in abundance. As NATO deployments go, the USAF has to depend on its own tankers as they are probably the only ones who use a boom system. Even the US Navy and Marine Corps use probe and drogue. If memory serves me correctly, the reason the USAF went to the boom system was due to the stability of refueling large aircraft such as the B-52. It was easier for the pilot to have the boom fly to them as opposed to attempting to fly their probe into the basket. The USAF just kept the system for all their aircraft to maintain consistency. So given NATO deployments, everybody depends on everybody else. French aircraft can be refueled by Americans, British by the Canadians, etc. The only problem children are the USAF who require a boom so they are exclusively USAF refueled.

    Your concerns are noted and worthy. Fact still remains the Gripen is a single engine aircraft. It does not have the legs some of its competitors have. It can’t haul the loads that some of its competitors can. It is a neat point defence fighter. So was the F-5. As I mentioned before, it is either the F-15SE or the F/A-18E/F. The Hornet has probe and drogue for IFR, the F-15 is a boom system. Going the probe and drogue route saves on having to depend on USAF KC’s or buying some used ones from the USAF.

  44. Hi there, I am aware of the chain of aircraft components manufacturers and the mutual dependency (long live the globalization :-((( ). I only wanted to point at a very simple thing which however plays an important role during an air battle (don´t think Canada will face one but military aircraft are dedicated to that) and I wrote it was an additional way how to become dependent on USAF operated tanker fleet. Canada may not find it a problem like European countries may. I don´t hide that I´m a great fan of the Gripen, I wish we could afford to buy the E/F variant, at least 30 of them. I am a fighter controler officer and know the current C/Ds are equal to Typhoon or Rafale in an aerial combat BVR or WVR having advantage in their size (both worse radar reflection characteristics and hard to see with eyes) If it is true what the Sweds promis and E/Fs will be superior to C/Ds nearly in everything (and maybe cheaper too), God with those who will face them.

  45. Aloha Anonymous,

    Canadian fighters have flown in harm’s way many times even in the past two decades and may in the foreseeable future. Your comment reminded me of Menachem Begin’s response at a news conference when he was questioned about the use of American made fighters to bomb the nuclear reactor in Baghdad (Operation Opera, 1981); “We didn’t buy these things for airshows.” (Rough translation but you get the idea.)

    The purpose of any military organisation is to hurt people and break things. Many other roles are assumed by the military in peace keeping missions but for the most part weapons and knowing how to use them effectively are what an air arm is all about.

    You have revealed some of your background so I will let you in on a little of mine. I have been in the aerospace industry all of my adult life in the capacity of aircraft mechanic, aircraft systems instructor, logistician, project manager and quality assurance director at three prime airframe manufacturers. I’ve been in the design phase, built them and fixed them for over forty-five years. I am retired in Hawaii now.

    Although being a half assed Canadian, I did my service in the USAF. I have been under fire (Vietnam Class of ’69) and been a military advisor in some very interesting spots where it got a little toasty.

    The key to success does not rely entirely on the weapons system. Training, motivation, esprit de corps, and a good logistics system all work to make that weapons system function. Without having those elements, you might as well paint day glow concentric circles around that great airplane to make it easier for the enemy to hit.

    Canada has had the CF-18 since 1982. (I was at the roll-out ceremony in St. Louis.) Fighters take an awful lot of abuse. You wouldn’t try to do some of the stuff a CF-18 does in a 747. It is time to replace them. What is the mission? Is stealth THAT important? Again, given the finances, what makes sense? (Pardon the pun.)

    The best candidate and the best bang for the buck still seems like the F/A-18E/F. Similar systems, very little transition training, supply system is known, etc. Going with a completely different aircraft gains what?

    Love the Gripen, love the Rafale, love the Typhoon but do they make sense for Canada? I’ve ruled out the F-35 as I think it is a huge mistake. I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong in the end but at this time, the change to the logistics system, transition training, cost of acquisition just don’t add up as a viable alternative. Almost forgot IFR. Now you’ve gotta go buy some USAF KC’s. I think there are even some re-engined ones at Davis Monthan. Could be cheap.

  46. Guess we all didn't do our homework. F-35 is already fitted with probe for probe and drogue system. See for yourself at:

    1. The F-35B and F-35C are. The F-35A, Canada's preferred option, isn't. If Canada selects the F-35, it has three options:

      1. Go without the ability to perform aerial refueling.
      2. "Canadianize" the F-35A to equip probe-and-frog (at added expense)
      3. Purchase the heavier, slower, and more expensive F-35B or F-35C.

      Which would you suggest?

    2. Go with the F/A-18E/F and throw in a couple of Growlers. The question remains is stealth that important? If you have some Growlers would that solve some of the problem? Don't know. I have my own prejudices with Lockheed. They haven't been able to keep their costs down. The price tag has risen significantly since the inception of the F-35 to now. And I still think it has some teething problems that are going to take a long time to fix and that also means money. As for your three options Doug, I would prefer Gripens over the F-35. Optimally, lets go with the Super Hornet.

  47. Doug - It appears you are busier on your other websites discussing this issue. Seems as though there is pressure to reexamine the option of the F-15SE. Not a bad choice but still leaves the in flight refueling problem to be solved. I was on the F-15 programme briefly in my time at MCAIR and I love the aircraft. It is still expensive to own and operate. Should Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama decide to head us into another Cold War then it might be time to reconsider all options including a home grown aircraft. My co-author and I came up with an alternative future to this as well in a book titled Pacific Cauldron. Be happy to send you a copy. Free. What would Canada do if the US folded?

  48. At the moment there are no takers for Silent Eagle, however the current 84 Saudi Advanced models to be built and delivered to Saudi are a good reference point for where the modern Eagle is evolving.

    The Saudi Advanced model is "real" aircraft that can be considered by Canada. Many of the improvements place the SA model in a position such that it can be upgraded as required. Having a digital fly by wire control system is a significant improvement to the F-15, making the control surfaces more responsive as well as reducing weight and maintenance on the aircraft. DEWS is also an available system. In regards to the canted tails, it may be debatable as to how much value they actually provide as the F-15SE proposal for reduced RCS is primarily from a frontal aspect.

    Boeing changed the CVTs to an option. A 15 degree CVT may assist is reducing some of the side reflection but that may be minimal in reality based on actual use of the aircraft. A large benefit is the reduction in weight ballast as the canted tails create extra lift. The conformal weapons bays are a Boeing/Korean thing, but this is also something Canadian aerospace companies can take on also. There have been comments about CWB without doors where the weapons are "tucked" in for reduced drag and RCS. So there are many possibilities here especially since the CWBs which are based on the fast pack forms can be fairly straight forward to innovate on. The APG-63(3) is currently offered on the SA model. An RCAF fighter would likely be cleared to use an APG-82 or better radar.

    The F-15SA model currently has a number of discrete LCD screens for various functions and JHMCS for the pilots. The advanced cockpit proposed for the SE is likely similar to the one proposed for the F/A-18E/F ASH, so there is not much risk in whether Boeing can really deliver. However the current SA cockpit with JHMCS may be more than enough. One problem with the F-15 for Canada is its boom tanker requirement. This is another "project" Canadian aerospace firms can take on. In fact there has been talk that the Israelis have worked on probe and drogue upgrades so that their F-15s can buddy tank as regular tankers are more exposed. Canadian aerospace firms currently and have provided a number of components to the F-15 for years, so there is an ecosystem there.

    The bottom line is Canada can simply go with a Saudi Advanced model + a few easy upgrades and the rest can happen as the plane is evolved. The great thing about an F-15 is that it's "depot aircraft" which means it will last a long time and it will be very tough. The irony I find that we always hear about how expensive an Eagle is, and they are not cheap. But expensive compared to what? An F-35? That's the farce in this debate. The F-35A is running $150-180+M? And many challenge the validity of those numbers. With the F-15 you get a large ecosystem, a plane flown by a number of the world's best air forces. A plane that has the legs to travel long distances in a vast country, a plane that has serious speed to intercept, a plane that can be configured to carry a massive amount of ordnance for strike and a plane that can still dogfight.

    Another Guest

  49. The new build Strike Eagle will be a better choice for Canada in almost every respect except cost. The F-15 is a more capable multi-role fighter with a wider user base. Its production is guaranteed until 2018 or beyond and planned upgrades will keep it relevant well into the 2030s and beyond.

    Much like the Su-27, which has been continuous upgrades to become the Su-30 and Su-35 (among other variants), the F-15 has proven to good at what it does to simply throw away. Despite its age, the F-15 will continue to receive modern, cutting edge upgrade well into the foreseeable future. Upgrades like AESA radar, IRST, helmet mounted displays, and other avionics upgrades.

    The rational behind planning so many upgrades for a 42-year old fighter design is simple: The F-15 will fly well into the 2030s and beyond. The Eagle is an incredibly rugged and durable aircraft. Whereas the F/A-18 had a planned service life of 6,000 flight hours, the F-15C is rated for 9,000. This itself may be an understatement, as the USAF is currently studying extending service life to 18,000. The F-15E in fact be good for as many 32,000. It would be prudent to replace the CF-18 fleet with new F-15E+ w/ GE-132, IRST and APG-82.

    Another Guest

  50. However, the Super Hornet may be an easier sell given its lower price tag and commonality with the RCAF's current CF-18 fleet. But the problem with this aircraft it is severely handicapped by its lower combat thrust/weight ratio, and hybrid wing planform. Again, it cannot be regarded to be “multirole” in the classical sense of the term, as it lacks the performance to be credible in air superiority/interceptor roles, and it lacks the survivability to be credible in strike roles against well defended targets etc.

    JAS-39E/F Gripen NG ? – No thank you. Single engine aircraft are designed on the basis that they are semi disposable. Unless you are short distance from the suitable runway you are going to eject and trash the plane in the event of an engine failure. In the artic that is not all that comforting of an idea, or many other places for that matter.

    The Gripen NG will use a variant of the GE F414 engine, the same engine used in the current Super Hornet. Previous Gripens used the GE F404 built under license by Volvo. Canadian CF-18s use the F404 built by GE. GE can certainly build a F404 engine just as well as Volvo can (probably better). The argument that the Gripen has better engine makes absolutely no sense.

    For those who claim the Gripen NG can fulfill both roles into this uncertain future and then I simply say, think again!

    Canada needs to look at more options on the table of acquiring some hi/lo mix, not just acquire a lot of small airframes with low capability.

    Regards Another Guest

    1. Remember dual engines is dual posibility of failure. I remember when we had a nordic joint meeting in the north of Sweden where a dual engine couldnt partisipate because of engine failure. Engine failure just inst happening with gripens, never has."Between 1988 and March 31, 2012, there were 228 precautionary engine shutdowns in CF-18 engines" Maybe you are used to it and afraid it will happend to gripens. I bet saab will guarantee you a new plane in that case. / Regards SWEguest

  51. Lay out different specifications of other aircraft on the table like the F-15.

    Three vital things the Super Hornet doesn't give its pilots is SPEED, POWER and BIG RADAR. Speed and power is important for air superiority/interception, adding energy to missile engagements, fleeing an opponent, forcing a missile to chase and run dry of fuel. Mach 2.5 and 52,000 Ibs. Of total thrust should be a minimum. Big radar is a must for patrolling our territory. The F-15 platform offers Canada everything, but the cost argument is becoming tired one. Canada is a bigger country with more financial and natural resources than the early 1980's.

    Settling for just the Super Hornets as is will mean that the ever more belligerent Russian Air Force will laugh when they fly their Sukhois near Canada's airspace.

    Fundamental problems with the Super Hornet stem from the fact that this machine has seriously Degraded Operational Gradients (FT term for which the shorthand is DOG!).

    Little doubt the Super Hornet has some impressive systems e.g. APG-79 AESA, etc. and can provide the pilot with equally impressive Situational Awareness. However, in a dog of an aircraft, all that impressive Situational Awareness is going to do is tell Super Hornet pilots how and when they are going to die. QED.

    The Super Hornet is designed for the Navy to be launched and landed on an aircraft carrier. To do that it has to be structurally strengthened to take those stresses that make it a heavy, poor performing and short range aircraft.

    According to US aviation analyst James Stevenson quoted: "If you think about all the other planes that are available as being puppies in a litter, the Super Hornet is the runt."

    Regards Another Guest


    1. F-15 well but do not landing on the ship. You can't rest on the ship. You can rest when are allowed only by country that you go.

  52. I think you will find that the F35A comes standard with boom but probe & drogue as an option, whereas with the B&C its probe & drogue standard. It is after all a 'Joint Strike Fighter' with a number of nations having input (including Canada & Australia). In the western world, only the USA has the numbers to afford 2 concurrent incompatable systems.

  53. At this point it would appear that the Harper government is more concerned with a balanced budget than a credible military. (Elections on the horizon maybe?) The life expectancy of the F-15 alone should be a huge savings in terms of life cycle costs. The F-15 still owns the air. The only place it has been shot down by another aircraft has been in novels.


  54. There's one thing both Russians and SAAB prioritize: The Safety and especially Survival of the Pilot. Hence, the robust structure of MiG's and Sukhoi planes. SAAB has traditionally taken another angle to view at this problem. Superior maneuverability of SAAB planes (just google , or ; not to mention AJ-37 Viggen footage available online..) saves both the pilot and the plane.

    Finnish AF Fighter Squadron 11 is located at Rovaniemi, my hometown and operates F-18 Hornets brutishly but beautifully :-)

    Still, though I admire the skill and the will of Finnish pilots, my mind was blown when I saw Gripen maneuvering -at any speed, or any height. Norwegian F-16's were also present at the annual Squadron 11 show, so I said to my father: "F-16 is like a Porsche, and Hornet reminds me of a Lamborghini, but Gripen is agile just like a true SAAB!" :-D

  55. F-35 could not survive in air combat.

  56. F-35 uses the technology too. If some technical failure Aircraft it may crash it all. F-35, it should be at NASA to the appropriate .