According to most experts as a fighter-interceptor, the EF-2000 is the superior. “Rafale” is slightly inferior to him in flight characteristics
The maneuverability at subsonic and supersonic speeds is also a slight advantage behind eurofighter. The radius of the established reversal of the “French” is a little less. The traction, maximum speed and maximum speed are higher than that of the “Eurofighter” and in these parameters it is preferable as an interceptor and aircraft to gain air superiority. The difference in traction is especially noticeable – 1.19 against 0.98.
Rafale vs Gripen vs Eurofighter BVR capabilities
For the melee air combat at Rafale, the French Air Force and Navy are armed with the R550 “Majik” II missiles, the Eurofighter uses IRIS-T, AIM-9 “Sayduinter” and AIM-132 ASRAAM (on export variants “Rafale” can also be integrated into the weapon system AIM-9 and AIM-132 ASRAAM).
The IRIS-T and AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles are more advanced than the French R550 “Majik” II.
The AIM-132 guidance system provides:
- launch outside of visual visibility (target capture mode after launch) with the capture of the target on the trajectory on the target from the inertial system. It is also possible to recapture the target at its loss. This mode ensures that a target is hit before the short-range air battle.
- Launch in the mode of capturing the target of the GSN in the suspension under the carrier.
- Launch at the corners of the target sighting more than 90 degrees (shooting “over the shoulder”). This mode is supported by the high maneuverability of the missile and makes it possible to use the AIM-132 as a means of self-defense of the carrier aircraft.
The IRIS-T missile also provides an over-the-shoulder launch mode, is capable of maneuvering with overloads of up to 60g, the IRIS-T UR can perform a 180 ° horizontal turn with a turn radius half that of the Russian R-73 missile.
The Rafale with the R550 Majik II missiles is more likely to lose. However, the Arsenal of the French fighter has a MICA missile. It was developed as a replacement for the Matra Super 530D/F medium-range missiles and the Matra R550 Magic II melee missiles. The main feature of MICA was its “versatility” – the ability to use at medium and short distances, with the ability to maneuver with overloads up to 50g. The MICA missile can be conventionally classified as short/medium-range dual-range missiles. It is superior in maximum speed (MI4) IRIS-T, but is inferior in terms of allowable congestion and the minimum range of launch (500 m at MICA vs. 300 m iris-T), which plays an important role in melee air combat.
In modern air combat, the tactics of fighter aircraft are not limited to short-range maneuverable combat as it was, for example, in World War II. With modern technical equipment, it is necessary to strive for an earlier detection of the enemy at long or medium distances. Who is faster and at a greater distance it will do and earlier will use guided armament “air-to-air” for that and victory in air combat. The detection of an aerial target is influenced by many factors: the technical capabilities of radar and optical detection, the use of EW, the amount of effective scattering area (EPR) and more.
Rafale has more technical and constructive measures to reduce EPR than other European fighter jets. It is equipped with BRLS RBE2 with PFAR, providing the possibility of launching on priority targets of 8 SDs of air-to-air class at intervals of 2 s. Spectra REB system is considered to be more advanced by Western specialists than the DASS system on Eurofighter. On this basis, the French expect to succeed in long- and medium-range combat.
The “Eurofighter” is equipped with a “classic” pulse-Doppler radar “Captor” with mechanical scanning, in terms of characteristics and noise immunity it is a modern radar with a high scanning speed (considered one of the best in the world in its class). In terms of detection range, the Captor radar surpasses RBE2.
Both aircraft have optical-electronic detection systems. On “Rafale” stands the System Thomson-CSF OSF with an infrared sensor and a heat pulse with long-focus optics, complex with a laser rangefinder with a range of detection of an air target 50 km (television channel) and 100 km (IR channel). Eurofighter has a passive thermal (infrared) system for detecting and escorting PIRATE air targets, capable of detecting a target at a distance of up to 90 km (according to other data 150 km).
MICA EM with active radar GSN and MICA IR with thermal imaging GSN are available in rafale arsenal for medium- and long-range air combat. Eurofighter is armed with a U.S.-made AIM-120 AMRAAM missile (in European countries according to the Military Balance-2019 manual in service with the AIM-120B modification) with active radar GSN. Both aircraft may use a long-range Meteor guided missile.
The MICA missile is superior to the American AIM-120B. With a lighter weight, it provides a greater range of use, has much greater maneuverability and can be used in close maneuvering combat. Now for export, the United States offers more advanced versions of the AIM-120C-5 and AIM-120C-7. In terms of range, they have already passed into the class of long-range missiles.
A positive factor in favor of Rafale in the use of medium-range missiles is the performance of MICA missiles in two variants. In a difficult jamming environment (and this is the most likely option in modern combat), the French fighter will have the advantage of using MICA IR missiles with thermal imaging GSN. High resolution and integrated algorithms allow MICA IR GSN to effectively accompany targets over long distances and screen out heat traps. The GSN has the ability to capture a target on a trajectory after a missile is launched without the use of a data line. In this mode, the missile is applied in accordance with the principle of “launched-forgotten.” The use of these missiles, the improved EW system, the theoretically greater interference of the PFAR, and the fact that the designers of “Rafale” have more in the design of the aircraft measures to reduce the EPR give a slight advantage to “Rafale” when used in air combat at long distances.
Sweden’s JAS 39C in horizontal maneuverability is not inferior to competitors, but has noticeably lower traction, speed. The air-to-air weapon used is similar to euro-air.
A significant drawback of Gripen is the lack of optical-location detection tools on it. And only on the modification JAS 39E installed infrared search and tracking system IR-OTIS.
The use of CDL39 data exchange equipment greatly expands tactical capabilities with the combat use of JAS 39C. The Swedish military believes that information superiority over the enemy plays a decisive role. The very idea they “looked” at the Russian MiG-31, only executed it at a higher technological level (it is understandable, the plane was created later than the Soviet). In active mode, four aircraft can simultaneously exchange information, and receive information in passive mode can an unlimited number of aircraft. For example, two aircraft, being in the range of their air defense can detect and issue coordinates of the target, and others at this time secretly without the inclusion of the BRLS to launch missiles on them.
It must be said that all three European aircraft are being developed with ATFAR-based radars, which will greatly enhance their capabilities.
Summing up we can say that the success in air combat will be influenced by the competent use of tactical techniques, careful planning of the air operation, the use of the advantages of the aircraft, individual training of pilots.
Most specialists prefer to be a fighter for Eurofighter. The general consensus is the stated information on the results of the competition for a new fighter for the Swiss Air Force. According to the Swiss military, Rafale surpassed the EF-2000 in air combat. They also noted that the French aircraft was less difficult to operate and capable of carrying out a wider range of tasks. The pilots noted the superiority of Eurofighter in flight characteristics and load on the pilot in flight and praised the capabilities of BRLS RBE2, Spectra REB complex and optoelectronic equipment at Rafale.