"I'd rather go to war in a Typhoon than in a F-18 (Super) Hornet" an Aussie exchange pilot says

“I’d rather go to war in a Typhoon than in a F-18 Hornet”. This alleged Australian exchange pilot’s statement is one of the most interesting outcomes (and marketing slogans) of BERSAMA LIMA 11 an exercise marking the 40th Anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Agreement (FPDA) the only multilateral defence agreement in South East Asia with an operational element commitment undertaken by five nations (UK, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Australia) to consult in the event of an attack on Singapore or Malaysia.

Image source: RAF/Crown Copyright

This year’s edition of the exercise was attended by 18 ships, two submarines, 4000 troops and 68 aircraft: among them four RAF Typhoons (three single seat and one twin seat jets, both belonging to the Tranche 2) from RAF Leuchars that undertook a 4-day 7,000 mile trip to RMAF Butterworth (including stops in Jordan, Oman and Sri Lanka).

According to an email I’ve received today from a Eurofighter pilot, the overall performance of the plane was almost faultless and much better than anybody had anticipated in spite of the limited support and spare parts available:

“There were no significant problems with the aircraft apart from a small radar issue on one aircraft during the exercise. No issues were attributed to the extreme humidity and local environment, a significant improvement on performance during the Singapore campaign.”

During Bersana Lima 11, the British Typhoons, that had their baptism of fire in the air-to-surface role during the Air War in Libya,  faced Malaysian Mig 29s, Australian F-18s (C and F) and Singaporean F16s using for the first time during an operational deployment, their electric hat (HMSS/HEA – Helmet Mounted Simbology System/Helmet Equipment Assembly the Typhoon JHMCS equivalent) and “easily came out on top in all engagements.”

To such an extent that the Aussie pilot made the notable comment (don’t forget the Royal Australian Air Force is an operator of both Legacy and Super Hornets….).

Image by Nicola Ruffino

Shortlisted in the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) tender for 126 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force with the Dassault Rafale (the recent loser of the Switzerland selection for a fighter plane to replace the ageing F-5Es), with Ex. Bersana Lima 11 the Typhoon has undertaken another operative (and marketing) campaign to prove the aircraft expeditionary capabilities and its superior technology.

About David Cenciotti 4450 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


    • Clearly Bill you haven’t flown any of the 3 aircraft, I have including all F16s and your comments are not correct

  1. As a brit, I’m going to assume that they were the only four Typhoons the RAF had that were actually airworthy that week.

  2. David, the Rafale wasn’t the only recent loser in Switzerland. It shared that honour with the Typhoon.

    • Absolutely,
      but that was a selection that saw the Rafale as favored (Swiss pilots judged the French plane as the one that suited better their requirements). Hence, since it started with an advantage, it is the real loser.

      • Err, in Switzerland, the favourite is the aircraft which costs the cheapest.

        The only folks who saw the Rafale as a favourite were internet fanboys-the rest is the usual internet-based spin about the Rafale being preferred by certain regions or the Eurofighter for its political clout. The Rafale and Eurofighter were never in with in a real chance once the Gripen was cleared for the shortlist.

        • When you read a blog, you always read someone’s opinion. In this case, being a one-man blog, you’r reading my own one. Are you reading a Typhoon marketing website? No.
          I’m not the only one to believe the Swiss selection was a Rafale loss:

          02.11.2011 – Le Monde – Les faramineux mirages du Rafale
          The astronomical mirages of the Rafale – Editorial

          Two years ago, in this newspaper, Dassault CEO Charles Edelstenne did not hide his joy: “ From now on, one can speak of Rafale without constantly adding – the aircraft never exported”. Back then, Brazil wanted to buy 36 of it, making the Americans wring their hands. But like a mirage, Brazil slipped away from this flagship of national military aviation. Similarly, hope for Switzerland just went up in smoke.
          Like the Concorde, earlier in commercial aviation, this makes Rafale the aircraft “which was never exported”. And which, as it now clearly looks like, never will be. It has undeniable qualities, demonstrated on the battlefield in Libya. But they are not enough.
          Neither its maker nor the government have created the commercial and political means to successfully confront the other two European combat aircraft, Sweden’s Gripen and the Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter, as well as Boeing’s F-18.
          Lack of European unity once again lets the Americans laugh all the way to the bank.
          Since launching Rafale at the end of the 80s and getting it in service with the French air force in 2006, Dassault only met with failures on international markets: After the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Marocco, illusions in Brazil and a very painful change of fortune in the UAE, the Swiss decision practically sounds the death bell for the strong will shown in this matter by the president (Sarkozy). Only in India there still remains a vague hope to avoid the foreseeable crash of the Rafale on the world market.

          Still, Dassault lives well. With good reason: This private company has a goose laying golden eggs as client, faithful, in for the long term – the French army and its orders funded by state budgets, which, conveniently, does away with competitive bidding.

          France wants to equip its armed forces with 180 rafales until 2021 and to bring the number to 286 thereafter. Even better: Within the law for military programming 2009-2014, Dassault obtained the assurance from the public purse to be able to produce, whatever happens in export markets, at least one aircraft per month. This intends to guarantee Dassaults production line, jobs, and price level.
          Difficult to obtain a better contract: 40,6 billion Euro (142 Million per aircraft), three quarters of which get financed with public money. But now that the government looks for millions of euro to save, one by one, it is at least unusual that the French taxpayer continues to bankroll, without counting, a private aircraft manufacturer.

          02.11.2011 – Le Monde – Le Rafale, encore et toujours trop cher
          Rafale – Still and forever too expensive

          Switzerland has preferred to buy 22 Gripen instead of combat aircraft from Dassault or Eurofighter. Mistake or wise decision?
          In September 2007, the then newly appointed defence minister Hervé Morin criticized Rafale in Toulouse as over-sophisticated and too expensive. The setting was the Summer University of Defence, in the audience was the who-is-who of French and international officers and industrialists. His remarks enraged Charles Edelstenne, Dassault CEO. With good reason: In the audience was a Swiss delegation interested in buying Rafale. Four years later, Switzerland confirmed this reasoning: “Financial arguments played a determining role in the aircraft choice” says the government. Gripen is about a quarter cheaper than EF and RF and has only one engine.
          Another argument in favour of the Swedish offer : Saab promises to engage Swiss industry in the adaptation of Gripen for its use in Switzerland. The other contenders also promises to develop some local suppliers but did not envisage a “swissified” version of their aircraft as a result.
          Faced with this failure, Eurofighter and Dassault react very differently. A Eurofighter spokesperson declares “we are of course disappointed by this decision but respect the Swiss choice”.
          For Dassault, it is not yet over. There, one insists that “the swissfied Gripen only exists on paper. Development and production would significantly increase the cost for the Swiss government. “
          Dassault knows what it is talking about: The Helvetisation of 100 Mirage III in 1961 cost the Swiss much more than forecast.
          Dassault, Thales and Snecma already hone their arguments for convincing Berne to change its choice. They claim that 12 Rafale are enough to do the same job as 22 Gripen, and that at the same price, Switzerland could buy even 16 Rafale.

          All three competing aircraft were launched at about the same time, in the middle of the 80s. But till date, the commercial success of Gripen, Rafale and EF shows wide divergence
          The top prize goes to the European consortium with 707 orders from the four partner countries plus exports to Saudi and Austria.
          Then comes Gripen, with 240 orders for Sweden, Hungary, Czech republic, South Africa, Thailand. (Norway and India were lost recently)
          Rafale is the only one never sold outside its home country. France promises to buy 180 until 2021 and intends to bring the number to 286 until 2030. In the last 10 years, this aircraft lost four tenders. Negotiations in Brazil have been called off for the time being and in the UAE they are going through a very rough phase.
          The hour of truth is nearing for Dassault in India, where it competes against EF for 126 aircraft. Delhi should decide within a month. It is the last chance for a large order.
          Dominique Gallois

          01.11.2011 – liberation.fr – Le Rafale cherche toujours preneur
          Rafale still looking for buyers – new export trouble for Dassault’s combat aircraft

          Article about the systematic failure to export before arriving at the conclusion: (…) Only India is left, where Dassault competes against EF for an enormous tender of 126. It is not sure if Rafale’s « show »in Libya is enough of a selling argument to win this one.

          Hence, the problem is one: Dassault marketing and communication policy. I’ve made several media inquiries to Dassault for two articles about the Libya air war that will be published in the next few months. Just for information, the articles are about the Lessons Learned and the Technologies that won the war in Libya. Both will feature the Rafale as a leader of the air war on two very well known aviation magazines in English language. Do you want to know how many replies I got from Dassault: 0.
          This just to prove how poor is their PR strategy if compared to the Eurofighter one. They bomb journalists with info, pictures etc and it is quite normal that media use material if it is interesting. I’d be more than willing to publish more info on the Rafale if I got it. BTW this doesn’t change my mind. If one is believed to be the best and then loses, he’s the one who suffers most for the defeat.

        • >>Are you reading a Typhoon marketing website? No.<<

          Oh really?

          You did not get an e-mail from "a Eurofighter pilot".

          You got an unsigned and unattributed 'quote' from a Eurofighter PR flack (distributed by circular e-mail) making all the unsubstantiated claims you repeated in your post without providing a single piece of independent evidence or sourcing to back it up.

          Not Typhoon marketing?? It's nothing BUT Typhoon marketing – as well you know.

          …at least your 'EF Pilot' had the good sense to attribute the made-up quote to a Hornet pilot and not a Super Hornet driver.

          • Dear Valerio (or should I say Giovanni?),
            I don’t usually approve comments from people using a fake name and email address. However a reverse-engineering process was quite easy using the IP address that is tracked for each comment. Unlike you do, I sign everything that I write and I take full responsibility on that. If you don’t sign it, this means what you’ve writte is as unsigned and unattributed as the quote from Eurofighter PR.

            As you said EF Pilot is a semi-official Typhoon marketing alias meaning that everything that they send is official. I was told by Eurofighter that the man behind it is a pilot. I don’t think it’s so important.
            Dealing with the quote, I’ve checked with Eurofighter and, unlike you have written, it was on a report both signed and attributed. Furthermore, there are not so many Aussie pilot flying on the RAF 6 Sqn so you can check yourself.
            Same for the quote about the Hornet.

            Before you can say that a quote is made-up I suggest you to check it at least once. Maybe your readers will enjoy a less biased view.

  3. Every Typhoon pilot says the following: “I’m glad that I don’t have to face an F22 Raptor in war”.

  4. “Rafale (the recent loser of the Switzerland selection for a fighter plane to replace the ageing F-5Es)”

    hmmm… Is this really serious?? Isn’t the Typhoon the biggest loser of Swizterland competition??? According to the leaked reports the Rafale clearly won the evaluation, with Typhoon second and Gripen third, winning only on price considerations.

    • I would suspect that Swedish neutrality probably helped play a role in the Swiss decision to help avoid being sucked into being a de facto NATO client.

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