I'm French but I have no problem with EU countries buying the F-35 right now (can't say the same for other military hardware when there is a competitive EU product). However I'm surprised they don't defend their purchase by simply stating the obvious, that the F-35 is more technologically advanced.
But the main horse the F-35 is betting on is stealth and the entire weapon system is a lot less effective if that stealth doesn't work. And if that's the case I'd prefer to see my pilot in the faster airplane, with longer range, and much better maneuverability. And that's the Eurofighter.
That isn't an accurate representation of the respective aircraft.
The F-35 likely has the same or greater range than the Eurofighter in both A2G and A2A configurations. For range figures you can read the following reference which takes data provided by manufacturers on a number of western fighter aircraft, https://www.reddit.com/r/F35Lightning/c ... _fighters/
Even with the fuel degradation and the reduced thrust the F-35 achieved a similar range. Remove those limitations, and add the PW F135 Growth Option One available by the time Belgium gets their jets, which promises 6-10% thrust increase as well as a 5-6% fuel burn reduction, and the range of the jet increases. Add in Growth Option Two (currently not funded) which is expected to provide similar thrust and fuel burn improvements to the engine. Beyond that the US is planning for a new engine to power the F-35 in the 2025-30 timeframe that will being a 30% range increase on top of the existing aircraft.
The Eurofighter may have a slightly higher top speed but the reality is that figure is reasonably meaningless. A higher top speed is probably beneficial for a very small select number of missions but to achieve those higher top speeds the Eurofighter has to use and subsequently release its drop tanks (or carry them and suffer an aerodynamic penalty and how many drop tanks do you expect Belgium to acquire) or be limited with fuel load by not carrying the tanks. The F-35A carries 7,000lbs more internal fuel than the Eurofighter, approximately 65% more while preserving a clean configuration and not being penalized by the external carriage of weapons. That additional fuel translates into being able to stay at a higher speed for a longer period of time which in high speed intercepts is the deciding factor.
The Eurofighter and F-35 are both 9G+ aircraft. The F-35 has the ability to pull more AoA , up to 50 degrees compared to the Eurofighter which is limited to 24 degrees unless the respective Air Force takes up the AMK modification (which no one has), which increases it to 34 degrees. http://gnanavelaviator.blogspot.com/201 ... n.html?m=1
Increased AoA significantly improves WVR combat performance.
The sensors on the F-35 are generally superior to the Eurofighter
- the APG-81 is a larger and more powerful radar and will remain so even when the CAPTOR-E enters service. At this point the expected TRM count on the CAPTOR-E is 1500 while the F-35 has 1600+ in a more mature system with more refined software algorithms. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/EuroRADAR_CAPTOR
The CAPTOR-E will have a swashplate to move the radar head which provides some advantages but also introduces additional mechanical complexity to a system that is trying to remove it.
- The Eurofighter has no EODAS equivalent system except for an active radar for missile warning. Obviously an active radar for missile warning is likely to provide adversaries with the location of the aircraft via ESM.
- The EOTS is an impressive system that will only get better on Belgian aircraft becuase by the time they order EOTS the Advanced verison will likely be implemented which incoprorates significant improvements.
- The HMD on the F-35 is comparable to the Eurofighter only if the Eurofighter pilot uses the STRYKER II helmet.
- The sensor fusion on the F-35 is better than the Eurofighter in all aspects with the system able to automatically assign sensors to conduct scanning of respective threats and areas.
- The datalink on the F-35 is significantly more capable, higher data rate and much lower probability of detection, compared to the Eurofighter which is restricted to Link 16.
The F-35 exceeds the Eurofighter on the ability to carry A2G weapons. The Eurofighter is limited by its pylons to carrying either fuel or a large 2000lb series weapon meaning the jet either requires targets to be closer or must use tankers to reach distant targets. The F-35 also has two pylons rated for 5000lb weapons if required. If both jets are loaded with as many A2A weapons as they can carry the F-35 has a total load out exceeding the Eurofighter while still maintaining that fuel load advantage.
For Belgium, we know the F-35 is cheaper to acquire and we also know the F-35 is cheaper to operate. The F-35 already has almost 2/3 the operating number of aircraft globally of the Eurofighter and will likely exceed the Eurofighter for aircraft deployed in two years’ time, doubling four years later and then again four years after that. This creates a massive sustainment and upgrade path that Beligum can plug into in exactly the same way they did with the F-16.
Finally, while the F-35 has the ability to use stealth as an advantage when it desires, the Eurofighter does not. It will always be limited in its ability to detect stealth aircraft, its inability to reduce its RCS due to external weapons and fuel tanks, and will struggle to reach first look first shot opportunity against current and future 5th generation platforms.