Air&Cosmos - June 2010[/FONT][/CENTER]
Since birth, both were scheduled to compete. The wrestling (commercial) which has now engaged the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale on the international scene has its roots in the early 80s, while Europe is seriously considering a joint development of a new multinational European fighter aircraft. France, United Kingdom and Germany are the main actors in a drama that will last many years. These last two countries, which have already collaborated in the Panavia consortium for the development of the Tornado are looking to replace a portion of their tactical fleet. For its part, France is trying, too, to have a fighter that can replace almost all of its combat aircraft. But from the beginning, the situation appears complex, whereas the English call for an air superiority aircraft class 11-12 tonnes, Paris argues for a device of only 9 tons. Moreover, the problems of industrial shares weigh down the prospects of cooperation including France, whose aeronautical companies ardently defend their plans to support the maintenance of their skills. In 1985, France announced it will develop alone its future combat aircraft. For their part, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain will start the Eurofighter program. While France wants to start building a really multirole aircraft, the nations in the Eurofighter consortium finance the development of a superiority aircraft, designed for air to air combat. To date yet, the 'Typhoon has only very limited air-ground capabilities compared with the Rafale.
More thrust for the Typhoon
On paper, the Typhoon has some undeniable advantages: more powerful than M88, its two reactors give it a better weight/thrust than the Rafale. According to the Eurofighter pilots, this additional power would be particularly appreciable during simulated combat below 20,000 ft, where the density of air allows the engines to be fully expressed. In the battle beyond visual range (BVR), the Typhoon also has an greater "extension" than the Rafale. This is because of the the physical characteristics of the radar, which antenna "sees" futher than the RBE2-PESA, but also because of the dynamic performance of the American missile AIM-120 AMRAAM . Designed exclusively for medium-range interception, it certainly does not have the versatility of the Mica, but it is superior in terms of range. Facing a Rafale, these theoretical advantages, however, must be nuanced.
In BVR combat, although the lengthening of the radar and missiles of the Typhoon are superior, the french Rafale fighter's radar signature is, according to many pilots, much less important than the Eurofighter's one. It is therefore an asset. Even better: the sensors fusion which enjoys the Rafale is also a crucial advantage in BVR combat, because it offers the pilots a much better understanding of the tactical situation during combat, and this, 360 degrees around the aircraft.
Once the "merge" is reached (when BVR combat turns into short-range), the Rafale has still strong chances of victory against the Typhoon. In the opinion of French pilots who have confronted the European aircraft, it's above all the quality of the electric flight controls [FBW] of the French fighter who makes the difference
. In dogfight, Rafale can quickly point its nose to the threat, while less degrading its energy than the Eurofighter does. And this partly because the maximum angle of attack of the Rafale is "clamped" around 300, which allows it to evolve in a controlled manner even at low speed.
This difference in terms of maneuverability is also illustrated by the position of the canard on the two planes: placed well in front of the fuselage on the Typhoon, they play the role of an additional control surface used to "steer" more quickly the nose of the plane to take the incidence.
Conversely, the Rafale ducks are located very near the delta wing and are used primarily to pick up the airflow to slow up the loss of lift on the wing, thus giving the pilot a full control of the aircraft at low speeds.
A first indisputable skirmish
The Armée de l' Air has been able to experience this superiority in dogfight in September 2009, during an exercise organized by the French and British headquarters, during a deployment on the Solenzara airbase in Corsica
Few days , the EC-1/7 stands next with the Royal Air Force transformation squadron on typhoons. The English have thought of everything, and introduce to the French pilots the simulated engagement patterns they wish to practice facing the Rafale. The French pilots push back a smile: the conditions of the exercice are, on paper, custom-made for the Typhoons , they plan within visual range fights , 1 vs 1, under 20,000 ft and at 350 knots. Whatever. The 'Provence' squadron takes up the gauntlet ... The 2 planes take off, then meet up at 18 000 ft to start the exercise. The aircraft are flying on the same trajectory with about 2 km of lateral separation. "Turn Away
" with this announcement, the pilots turn 45 ° outward, to move away from each other. A few seconds later, the "turn in
" and the planes turn toward each other to meet face-to-face in the sky. Once both aircraft is within visual range , its the ultimate ad: "Fight's on!
". The first skirmish is indisputable. It need less than 40 seconds and only 3 crossing for the Rafale pilot to have its gun in firing position. However, the pilots flying the two planes are far from beginners. While the English is considered a Typhoon specialist in air-to-air, the "Provence" pilot has also a solid experience in within visual range combat
Nine wins, one defeat
This initial result is not a fluke: the two next passes end also to the advantage of the Rafale.[*******Red] In total, 4 different engagements will take place in Corsica, for a total of 9 wins against 1 defeat for the french fighter[/COLOR].
A nice demonstration of force that inspires the pilots the following moral: without mastery, power is nothing ... It is however an area where the Typhoon is victorious: the one of exports. While the Rafale is still looking for a first client, the Typhoon has already been sold to Saudi Arabia and Austria, and remains opposed to the Rafale in Switzerland and India.