The Harrier entered in service 41 years ago. Then, the Harrier II (GR5, GR7, and GR9) took off in 1985 for the first time. The F-35 Lightning II or JSF – 5th-generation Joint Strike Fighter – should replace these V/STOL (Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing) fighter aircraft.
Sixteen RAF Harriers conducted a farewell flypast yesterday while the last four Harriers left HMS Ark Royal forever. Both the Ark Royal and the Harriers are to be decommissioned under cost-saving plans. Click on the video below:
Strange as it may seem, the French have not managed to export Rafale fighter aircraft so far… However, the Rafale has been deemed to be an excellent fighter aircraft so many times – formidable in dogfighting, awesome when it strikes, and its superb CATIA-designed streamlining turns it into a feline grace nonetheless redoubtable whenever it is to be challenged in the skies.
There have already been rumours such as:
– Rafales – thanks to its RCS (Radar Cross Section) – would have beaten F/A-18s Hornet.
– After several dogfights reported between the Rafale and the Raptor, ( Rafale vs F-22 Raptor: 1 – 1 , according to the rumours ) BVR engagement exercises would have been cancelled. Another version deems that F-22s never took part in such exercises, so what did they do there at that time? Sightseeing? Not to mention the F-22’s withdrawal at the Paris Air Show 2009…
– The Rafale was onboard American CVs (aircraft carriers) in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The rumour in forums spread about American fighter aircraft that could not stand the Rafales’ level of performance during exercises.
But who knows, actually? However, some other elements have also been reported. They do not come from forums or blogs. So, can they be called « rumours »?
For instance, I still remember an article from The New York Times dated July 16th 2006. It was reported that the Rafales could outfly F-15, F-16 and F-18 opponents in dogfights. They also won against F-15s and Eurofighter Typhoons in technical and performance evaluations . The American media paid tribute to the French jet but almost nobody knew that in France at that time. How bizarre… Well, it must be admitted that there is a curious fad in France that consists in criticizing everything that works.
Remember, according to French TF1 channel in 2008… This was the balance sheet:
FAF Rafales vs USAF F-16s : 6 – 2
Moreover, the former Red Arrows team leader – Peter Collins – stated last month that it should be done justice to this aircraft for the Rafale would be according to him – as he had just flown a standard F3 Rafale – a « war-fighter par excellence ». He added that he deemed the Rafale to be the best and most complete combat aircraft that he had ever flown. He concluded in saying that if he had to go into combat, on any mission, against anyone, he would, without question, choose the Rafale.
Last but not least, the French Rafales would have slammed – if I may put it this way – the other aircraft in an exercise in the UAE – United Arab Emirates. Even the F-22 Raptor – though 5th generation fighter – could hardly do anything to « tame » this tough challenger. According to Jean-Marc Tanguy’s information, defence journalist, the balance sheet lies in the figures hereafter:
Dogfighting (with Rafale weapons system’s performance lowered on purpose):
FAF Rafales vs RAF Typhoons : 4 – 0
Dogfighting with further Rafale weapons system reduction:
FAF Rafales vs RAF Typhoons : 3 – 1
Final balance sheet (in both scenarii the Rafales did not have full weapons systems…):
FAF Rafales vs RAF Typhoons : 7 – 1
Not to mention Rafales outperform F-16CJs in targeting while in air-to-air and ground attacks thanks to the Rafale’s FSO – Front Sector Optronic.
I read from a remarkable Swiss aviation specialist’s website: AVIA NEWS. Pascal – AVIA NEWS webmaster – let me quote his analysis according to which the Rafale obtained the best score (95%) among the fighter aircraft evaluated for choosing which will replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5 Tiger. The other two competitors were the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, and the Eurofighter / Typhoon.
Furthermore, the Dutch did compare various fighter aircraft in 2002. Who remembers? The RNLAF – the Royal Netherlands Air Force – carried out this study and the balance sheet came out in the Dutch press:
Here are the ratings reported:
F-35 = 6.97
RAFALE = 6.95
Eurofighter = 5.83
F-16 Block 60 = 5.80
Well, we must admit that the JSF / F-35 Lightning II is the best fighter among those that were assessed. However it was a close shave, wasn’t it?
You will find an excerpt below of Jean-Marc Tanguy’s post from his blog « Le Mamouth« :
La première confrontation engageant quatre Rafale contre quatre Typhoon s’est terminée par un 4-0 en faveur des Français. Malgré, explique-t-on, l’emport d’un armement air-air fictivement dégradé. Après avoir un peu dégradé encore l’armement, le Rafale l’a encore emporté, 3-1. Le Rafale a été confronté au F22 lors d’un vol, mais dans un cadre limité au combat air-air à vue. Il n’aurait été dans le collimateur du chasseur américain qu’ à une reprise, explique t-on aussi. CLIQUEZ ICI pour lire L’ARTICLE ENTIER en français