“No way an F-35 will ever match a Typhoon fighter jet in aerial combat” Eurofighter test pilot says

Feb 11 2013 - 152 Comments

In an interesting piece by Flight’s Dave Majumdar, Bill Flynn, Lockheed test pilot responsible for flight envelope expansion activities for the F-35 claimed that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter will have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon (that during last year’s Red Flag Alaska achieved several simulated kills against the F-22 Raptor) and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

“In terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates and just about every other performance metric, the F-35 variants match or considerably exceed the capabilities of every fourth-generation fighter,” Flyinn said.

According to the Lockheed pilot, (besides its stealthiness) the F-35 features better transonic acceleration and high AOA (angle-of-attack) flight performance than an armed Typhoon or Super Hornet.

RNLAF

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

As Majumdar says in his article, such claims are strongly disputed by other sources. Among them an experienced Eurofighter Typhoon industry test pilot, who tried to debunk all Flynn’s “theories” about the alleged superior F-35 performance.

Here’s what he wrote to The Aviationist:

No doubt the F-35 will be, when available, a very capable aircraft: its stealth design, extended range, internal carriage of stores and a variety of integrated sensors are definitely the ingredients for success in modern air-to-ground operations.

However, when time comes for air dominance, some other ingredients like thrust to weight ratio and wing loading tend to regulate the sky. And in that nothing comes close to a Typhoon, except an F-22 which has very similar values. The F-35 thrust to weight ratio is way lower and its energy-manoeuvrability diagrams match those of the F/A-18, which is an excellent result for a single engine aircraft loaded with several thousand pounds of fuel and significant armament.

But it also means that starting from medium altitude and above, there is no story with a similarly loaded Typhoon.

Dealing with the transonic acceleration:

Transonic acceleration is excellent in the F-35, as it is for the Typhoon and better than in an F/A-18 or F-16, but mainly due to its low drag characteristics than to its powerplant. That means that immediately after the transonic regime, the F-35 would stop accelerating and struggle forever to reach a non operationally suitable Mach 1.6.

The Typhoon will continue to accelerate supersonic with an impressive steady pull, giving more range to its BVR (Beyond Visual Range) armament.

For what concerns AOA:

Angle-of-attack is remarkably high in the F-35, as it is for all the twin tailed aircraft, but of course it can not be exploited in the supersonic regime, where the limiting load factor is achieved at low values of AoA.

Also in the subsonic regime, the angle-of-attack itself doesn’t mean that much, especially if past a modest 12° AoA you are literally going to fall of the sky! Excessive energy bleeding rates would operationally limit the F-35 well before its ultimate AoA is reached.

Eurofighter superb engine-airframe matching, in combination with it’s High Off-Bore-Sight armament supported by Helmet Cueing, has already and consistently proven winning against any angile fighter.

Last, the F-35 is capable of supersonic carriage of bombs in the bomb bay, but the fuel penalty becomes almost unaffordable, while delivery is limited to subsonic speeds by the armament itself as is for the Typhoon.

Concluding (highlight mine):

[…] it is in the facts that while the Typhoon can do most of the F-35 air-to-ground mission, vice versa the F-35 remains way far from a true swing role capability, and not even talking of regulating the skies.

Provided that the F-35 will be able to solve all its problems, and that the raising costs will not lead to a death spiral of order cuts, both the British RAF and the Italian Air Force will be equipped with both the JSF and the Typhoon.

Mock aerial combat training will tell us who’s better in aerial combat.

MM7274_Typhoon

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  • R Valencia

    F-35 is able to maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using afterburners(1)

    Source
    1. Tirpak, John A. (November 2012). “The F-35’s Race Against Time”. airforce-magazine.com. Air Force Association. Retrieved 6 November 2012.

    picard578 is using a quote from 2011.

    • Picard578

      That quote from 2011 is the only direct quote avaliable and is actually a basis for what you provided.

      http://www.defensenews.com/article/20110613/DEFFEAT04/106130302/F-35A-Testing-Moves-Into-High-Speeds

      “What we can do in our airplane is get above the Mach with afterburner, and once you get it going … you can definitely pull the throttle back quite a bit and still maintain supersonic, so technically you’re pretty much at very, very min[imum] afterburner while you’re cruising,” Griffiths said. “So it really does have very good acceleration capabilities up in the air.”

      • R Valencia

        No, it’s not based from it. O’Bryan is not Griffiths.

        From
        http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/f-35-yeah-baby-it-super-cruises.html

        The F-35, while not technically a
        “supercruising” aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.
        “Mach 1.2 is a good speed for you, according to the pilots,” O’Bryan said.

        Your not factoring time progression and engine improvements.

        Are you claiming F-35 is static? If it’s static, what’s the point for R&D?

        Might as well sell the F-35 at Block 1 instead of Block 3F and repeat F-16/79 export failures i.e. not one copy of F-16/79 was sold to export customers.

        Around year 2012, F-35 was at Block 2A state.
        Around year 2015, F-35 would be in Block 2B state.

        IF F35 reaches Block 3F and it doesn’t perform as advertised then complain like any other mad customer.

      • R Valencia

        It doesn’t serve as the basis for quote since it’s a direct quote from O’Bryan instead of Griffiths and there’s a change with time i.e. mid 2011 vs late 2012.

        From
        http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2012/November%202012/1112fighter.aspx

        The F-35, while not technically a “supercruising” aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.
        “Mach 1.2 is a good speed for you, according to the pilots,” O’Bryan said.

        “without using fuel-gulping afterburners” is a direct conflict to “min[imum] afterburner”

      • R Valencia

        It doesn’t serve as the basis for quote since it’s a direct quote from O’Bryan instead of Griffiths and there’s a change with time i.e. mid 2011 vs late 2012.

        From

        http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2012/November%202012/1112fighter.aspx

        The F-35, while not technically a “supercruising” aircraft, can maintain Mach 1.2 for a dash of 150 miles without using fuel-gulping afterburners.
        “Mach 1.2 is a good speed for you, according to the pilots,” O’Bryan said.

        “Without using fuel-gulping afterburners” is a direct conflict to “min[imum] afterburner”

  • Joe Schmoe

    You mean without the pilot on board.

  • R Valencia

    F-35 has 360 degrees ultra long range IRST.

  • R Valencia

    For point 1

    The problem with rear mounted delta wings is the lift’s center of balance. A mid-mounted wing’s lift’s center of balance is nearer to the center.

    Early LM JSF was forward canard + rear delta wing model and it lost against mid-mounted wing + quad-rear stablizers model. Your not factoring rear mounted delta wings has to also provide lift, while quad-rear stablizers can be allocated pitch controls.

    F-35 has following additional lift devices

    i. Angled twin tails for extra lift and acts like another pair of rear stablizers.

    ii. Chinned forward fuselage in place of LEX.

    iii. From http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/F-35A_three-view.PNG
    Notice F35’s wing like shaping from engine inlet to the rear.

    iv. Over size rear stablizers.

    v. Carefully shaped engine cowls in place of LEX.

    “Here is a nice comparison of the F-16, F-15 and F-35 put together by an Aerospace engineer”
    http://www.f-16.net/forum/download/file.php?id=19295

    F-35A’s effective lift area is 828 ft^2.

    3. On what basis for your calculation?

    Does your F-35 calculation factor in engine upgrades from 43,000 lbf to 49000 lbf?

    EF2000’s Mach 1.5 super cruise speed drops to Mach 1.3 with typical air-to-air weapons load while F-35 remains clean. The point here is air-to-air weapon loads impacts EF2000’s performance.

  • R Valencia

    EF2000’s Mach 1.5 super cruise speed drops to Mach 1.3 with typical air-to-air weapons load while F-35 remains clean. The point here is air-to-air weapon loads impacts EF2000’s performance.

    • Picard578

      Don’t forget that Typhoon’s “clean” configuration includes 4 AAMs. IIRC, Typhoon achieves Mach 1,3 with centerline tank, and Mach 1,4 with air-to-air loadout.