Welcome to part 3 of Rafale vs Gripen vs Eurofighter Typhoon .The most “main caliber” of all three aircraft is cruise missiles (KR). Rafal and EF-2000 use the British-French KR Storm Shadow/SCALP EG (British/French designation), Eurofighter and Gripen can use the Swedish-German CD KEPD-150/350 TAURUS (the Swedish Air Force has not been supplied as of 2019). The Rafal can be used specifically to disable the Apache runway with a range of up to 140 km.
Read Previous Part :
Each aircraft can carry two CRS. They are designed to destroy highly protected military installations. The characteristics of Storm Shadow/SCALP EG and KR KEPD-350 TAURUS are roughly equal. They were executed with the use of stealth technology. It should be said that the KEPD-350 is developing a whole family of KR with different combat units:
- THE TAURUS KEPD-150 (TAURUS L) is a lightweight version with fewer fuel tanks and a lightweight BPC for lower-capacity carriers.
- TAURUS MP (Modular Payload) is an option that allows you to install an arbitrary payload as a combat part.
- TAURUS M is a variant with a cluster combat unit, designed to hit distributed small targets (positions of air defences, airfields, clusters of armoured vehicles, etc.).
- TAURUS HPM (High Power Microwave) is a missile equipped with a special combat unit with a high-power microwave emitter to disable enemy information systems and energy sources.
The main means of hitting ground targets for all European vehicles are the American-made adjustable air bombs (CAA) with laser guidance weighing up to 900 kg.
To install 227, 454, 910 calibers on conventional free-to-air bombs, France has developed a modular AASM kit (similar to the American JDAM). Rafal can carry six AASM CABs and apply them for six targets at the same time. French CAB with AASM outperforms American JDAM in terms of characteristics. The range reaches up to 60 km (up to 1 meter) against 28 km at JDAM. They are capable of hitting ground targets moving at speeds of up to 80 km/h (U.S. GBU-12 – 40 km/h). A significant drawback of French products is their extremely high cost of 300,000 dollars, which is more than 10 times more expensive than American counterparts.
Eurofighter’s arsenal includes Brimstone guided missiles to destroy mobile armoured targets with a range of 11-12 km. Such missiles can carry up to 18 units (at six suspension points three at each). During NATO’s military campaign against Libya in 2011, Brimstone missiles were used against tanks on the streets of Misrata. According to the pilots, this is an extremely effective weapon for use in urban environments.
It also has American-made CABs. When using the aircraft to directly support the troops, the “euro-fighter” will have to enter the range of the military air defence. In a similar situation, Rafal has the advantage of using AASM with a longer range.
Eurofighter and Gripen are hung from a hanging container with a Lightning II infrared front-view system, a container with a higher-performance DAMOCLES television-laser target, and sensitive elements of which allow the recognition of armoured vehicles at a distance of up to 27 km, which also increases the chances of survival of the French fighter when using precision weapons.
The arsenal of used weapons on the JAS-39C is less diverse than that of its “colleagues”. However, after the installation of the MS20 software, it was able to use small-diameter GBU-39 bombs (up to 8 pieces). The GBU-39 SBD (Small Diameter Bomb) is an American controlled high-precision air bomb with wings spread out in the air. Thus, the bomb is able to plan and its range reaches 110 km (!) when discharged from a height of 10,000 m. Its mass is only 130 kg, it has small dimensions. Thus, the problem of increasing the number of hit targets per aircraft and departure is solved. In the SBD II variant, it is capable of hitting moving mobile targets. With the use of the GBU-39, Gripen’s ability to directly support troops looks more than worthy compared to the larger European fighters.
On the JAS 39E modification, the range of weapons has increased markedly and includes KAB GBU-12, GBU-16, GBU-49, GBU-22, GBU-24, GBU-53 small diameter bombs, AGM-154 tactical guided-missile systems, AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles. The Swedish “baby” will thus surpass Eurofighter and Rafal in the strike capabilities.
Rafale, EF-2000 and JAS 39E aircraft can be suspended by up to four portable missiles (PKR), and two missiles can be fired on the JAS-39C. The U.S. AGM-84 Harpoon has higher range characteristics, but it should be noted that Eurofighter is unlikely to be able to use Harpoon’s maximum capabilities with its full-time detection capabilities.
Among the advantages of “Rafale” is its ability to conduct intelligence. To do this, it is hung with a RECO-NG container with IR and television reconnaissance equipment, capable of operating in day and night conditions at altitudes from 60 to 15,000 m. It allows you to obtain a television image of remote ground objects with high resolution. Digital processing is used to improve image quality. Information can be transmitted to a ground station in real-time at a rate of 50 Mbps. After completing 385 reconnaissance sorties, Rafali provided about 30% of the total number of images collected by the coalition’s tactical intelligence.
THE JAS 39C can also carry the SPK 39 reconnaissance container, which includes an optoelectronic sensor and digital imaging system. The downside of SPK 39 is that it is not possible to transmit intelligence in real-time.
The cost of operation is much cheaper for the Swedish JAS 39C with a flight hour cost from $4,700 to $7,000. (according to various sources, 2012 estimate). For Rafal, this figure is between $16,700 and $18,000, while EF-2000 has about $18,000. Interesting reports of the German press about the problems with the operation of their fighters. According to Deutsche Welle, with reference to Spiegel Online, the operation of combat vehicles is much more expensive than the planned level. The figure of 80,000 is named. Euro (!) for the cost of one euro-hour Eurofighter in 2013.
Summing up, I would like to say that all three fighters have a high combat potential, are equipped with modern avionics and weapons, are able to perform a wide range of tasks. Everyone has their own peculiarities, but in the complex of combat characteristics they are about equal and it is difficult to give anyone a clear preference. Developers are constantly improving their aircraft both in terms of equipment and in terms of armament. In the near future, their combat capabilities will increase significantly, which will allow them to remain in service for many years to come.
I would particularly like to note the French designers who managed to create a really good universal aircraft for both the Air Force and the Navy, whose requirements for combat vehicles are contradictory. At the same time, it was possible to achieve a high degree of unification of structures by 80% (by BREO by 95%).
The Swedish JAS 39C has a slightly smaller combat potential. Currently, a new version of JAS 39E with advanced capabilities is offered for export, which will be a good competition for Rafale and Eurofighter. However, this modification has lost its main trump card – a relatively low price. It has grown significantly and has come close to the cost of competitors.
It must be said that the price tag for European planes is quite high, even compared to American traditionally expensive aircraft, which is an undoubted disadvantage. Most countries will not be able to purchase 5th generation equipment because of the prohibitive cost and high operating costs. The “airpark” will mainly be multifunctional fighters of the “4” and “4” generations. Given that the arms market has serious rivals in the face of Russia and China, who offer their products at a much lower price, it will be quite difficult for Europeans to achieve significant achievements in the supply of their equipment for export.