F-35 Lightning II vs Dassault Rafale

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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rheonomic

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Unread post14 Feb 2018, 05:12

I remember hearing rumors of the "J-XX" program since the late 90s/early 2000s. J-10 indicates they can at least make a semi-decent 4th gen (probably comparable to an early F-16, although that's a WAG). Having access to the F-117 shot down during Allied Force doesn't hurt either.

Don't know how it'll compare to a Eurocanard (and if I had to pick one, I'd pick Rafale), but I also wouldn't dismiss it. They're making progress, and odds are we're going to have to engage them sooner or later, so let's neither under nor overestimate them.
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Unread post14 Feb 2018, 11:29

ricnunes wrote:So according to what you say, in order to develop a 5th gen fighter aircraft there's the need of:
1- Lots of resources - Check for China!
2- Advanced R&D - Also check for China!


Problem for China is that it still lacks in many basic technological areas that are required to make true 5th gen fighter. Engine technology is clearly one as they have really struggled to make decently modern jet engines. Then they are still quite far behind in manufacturing high-tech electronics components, although they do produce large amounts of low- and medium-tech components. They have some decent designs that have been manufactured in Taiwan or USA or Europe as Chinese don't have capabilities to produce those themselves. I know there are things like Intel and AMD fabs in China, but Chinese can't just use those to make advanced military grade electronics components.

One major problem is their lack of experience in developing modern fighter jets. They have copied Su-27 in different flavours and have previous indigenous designs about equal to 1970s Western designs at best. Aircraft like JF-17, J-10, J-8 or JH-7 are not exactly spectacular designs for their time. So they have a lot to catch up and learn in technologies for 5th gen fighter design. USA for example had F-117 and B-2 before getting to F-22 and then F-35 and they already had F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 as starting point. France got from Mirage 2000 to Rafale and have then continually upgraded their aircraft.

I do agree that China has all a lot of resources and advanced R&D going on and are going to get better and better. I'm also sure they will have real 5th gen fighter really operational in really meaningful numbers at some point in the future. IMO, that will take a lot of time still, like 15 years or so. My bet is that current J-20 is kind of pseudo-5th gen fighter with mostly 4th gen level avionics and systems. Of course that's impossible to know for sure with current public information, but I really doubt they can go from operational less-than-impressive operational 4th gen technology in J-11/15 and JF-17 directly to 5th gen technology given their background. I bet Rafale has avionics that is technologically superior to what J-20 is going to bring to table in near future.
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Unread post14 Feb 2018, 15:16

hornetfinn wrote:I do agree that China has all a lot of resources and advanced R&D going on and are going to get better and better. I'm also sure they will have real 5th gen fighter really operational in really meaningful numbers at some point in the future. IMO, that will take a lot of time still, like 15 years or so. My bet is that current J-20 is kind of pseudo-5th gen fighter with mostly 4th gen level avionics and systems. Of course that's impossible to know for sure with current public information, but I really doubt they can go from operational less-than-impressive operational 4th gen technology in J-11/15 and JF-17 directly to 5th gen technology given their background. I bet Rafale has avionics that is technologically superior to what J-20 is going to bring to table in near future.


This.
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Unread post14 Feb 2018, 21:17

Apologies if posted earlier but did viewers catch this gem today?
"...bare-bones price of $115 million for each Rafale fighter (with India-specific enhancements, spares, logistics and
weapons all extra)..." 14 Feb 2018 http://www.business-standard.com/articl ... 246_1.html
RAN FAA A4G Skyhawk 1970s: https://www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ AND https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/
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Unread post14 Feb 2018, 21:50

That number came up too during the initial buy and it was poo-pooed by the Rafale-baters club...

Wonder what they will say now?
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ricnunes

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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 01:36

hornetfinn wrote:Problem for China is that it still lacks in many basic technological areas that are required to make true 5th gen fighter. Engine technology is clearly one as they have really struggled to make decently modern jet engines. Then they are still quite far behind in manufacturing high-tech electronics components, although they do produce large amounts of low- and medium-tech components. They have some decent designs that have been manufactured in Taiwan or USA or Europe as Chinese don't have capabilities to produce those themselves. I know there are things like Intel and AMD fabs in China, but Chinese can't just use those to make advanced military grade electronics components.


Absolutely, I agree with what you said above and I've hinted at this in past posts of mine I believe.

However one has to note that the J-20 is a very large aircraft, much larger than the Rafale which means that the J-20 can mount much bigger radars (and other sensors/avionics) compared with the Rafale.
This could (IMO at least) somehow compensate the technological edge in electronics that the Europeans might have over the Chinese. And again also note that the technological gap in terms of electronics between China and Europe is much smaller than the same gap between China and the USA.
But getting of the subject of big size, remember the Mig-31. The Soviets were (and the Russians are) way behind the USA in terms of electronics but still they managed to manufacture a revolutionary PESA radar (the first of its kind, if I'm not mistaken) for the Mig-31, the Zaslon. And how was this possible when the Soviets lacked in the technological field (namely in electronics)? Because they were manufactured a very large radar for a very large aircraft so the lack of technological advancements in electronics, namely miniaturization was somehow offset when obviously compared to smaller US/Western radars.

The same I believe, may happen with when comparing the J-20 versus the Rafale.
If someone told the Chinese to build an AESA radar which would have the same or similar size as the RBE2 AESA then I would say and fully agree with you that this Chinese radar would definitely be inferior to the French RBE2 AESA radar for example.
But for all the good or bad, the fact is that the J-20 is a much bigger plane than the Rafale which can mount a much larger radar (again than the Rafale) and as such I believe that the Chinese could manage to build a larger AESA radar (which fits in the J-20) which would or could have a similar performance as the French RBE2 AESA or who knows even a better performance?

I don't know if my point is making some sense to you or not?

Oh and I fully agree with you about the Chinese engine technology. This is were IMO the Chinese lacks the most - but if they can import the technology this lack or gap could somehow be offset, couldn't it? Afterall we live in the age of globalization, don't we :wink:


hornetfinn wrote:One major problem is their lack of experience in developing modern fighter jets. They have copied Su-27 in different flavours and have previous indigenous designs about equal to 1970s Western designs at best. Aircraft like JF-17, J-10, J-8 or JH-7 are not exactly spectacular designs for their time. So they have a lot to catch up and learn in technologies for 5th gen fighter design. USA for example had F-117 and B-2 before getting to F-22 and then F-35 and they already had F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 as starting point. France got from Mirage 2000 to Rafale and have then continually upgraded their aircraft.


Well I understand what you mean. However one can also argument that in terms of aircraft design the Europeans seem to have stopped in the 1990's with their Eurocanards (the Rafales, Typhoons and Gripens) and currently the Europeans only seem to be dedicated to update electronically their "old" 4th gen designs while the Chinese kept moving on, not stopping at the 4th gen designs like the J-10 (which seem to be a rather interesting design but I admit that I don't know how effective this is) but kept moving towards 5th gen solutions, even if they are "half-baked 5th gen solutions" compared to the US but then again who's not "half-baked" compared to the US fighter/combat aircraft technology?


hornetfinn wrote:I do agree that China has all a lot of resources and advanced R&D going on and are going to get better and better. I'm also sure they will have real 5th gen fighter really operational in really meaningful numbers at some point in the future. IMO, that will take a lot of time still, like 15 years or so. My bet is that current J-20 is kind of pseudo-5th gen fighter with mostly 4th gen level avionics and systems. Of course that's impossible to know for sure with current public information, but I really doubt they can go from operational less-than-impressive operational 4th gen technology in J-11/15 and JF-17 directly to 5th gen technology given their background. I bet Rafale has avionics that is technologically superior to what J-20 is going to bring to table in near future.


I don't think that we'll see anything new from the Chinese in something like 15 years or so.
I do believe that the J-20 will be their 5th gen fighter aircraft. I also believe that period of time that you mentioned is probably the time that will take the Chinese to make the J-20 a full capable aircraft like they (Chinese) originally intend to. Well who knows, perhaps not 15 years but 10 years I would certainly bet on that (just look how long it took to develop both the F-22 and F-35).
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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 09:06

I strongly doubt the larger radar of J-20 is going to compensate for all the other shortcomings it will have compared to the latest and most advanced from the US.


Look at F-15 vs. F-16 -- they have in general been at the same technology level, and the F-15 has a much bigger radar; still in exercises it has been demonstrated that all the benefits of having a larger a/c does not mean complete superiority over the F-16; that is having the same technology level. As clearly stated by Hornetfinn, the IAF, and several other experts the Chinese are still far behind the (military) technology level in the West. A larger a/c is not going to compensate fully for that.

Furthermore, modern radars are 20% hardware and 80% SW; The Rafale AESA is becoming very mature now. The Chinese are far behind with their radar technology. Having a large and powerful radar is actually going to hurt not help you if you don't have LPI techniques implemented properly!

Also, as I have stated repeatedly RCS cannot be eyeballed. Even if they have managed to steal drawings from the US to build what looks like a 5. gen, it is not there yet. However it does give a big boost to the Chinese development of course; and if they get the the shape right then they can focus on all the other bits over the next 15-20 years; materials science, engines, sensors, sensor fusion, datalinks, missiles, ECM, ECCM, etc. etc.

Also keep in min that 5. gen means more than RCS and sensor fusion; it also means IR stealth -- they are still far behind also there.
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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 12:35

Ricnunes, I pretty much agree with you here. J-20 might well make up lower tech level with larger size in some cases like radar (to some point). Rafale has pretty good systems for 4th gen fighter and good weapons in Meteor and MICA. I'd say Rafale will remain much better A-G fighter than anything China has now or in foreseeable future. It remains to be seen how successful aircraft J-20 will be. I think it will be produced in rather small numbers (my bet is less than 100) and will be a learning experience for the Chinese and then going to something else in the future. But of course Rafale is also produced in small numbers and is pretty expensive.
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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 13:04

I also agree with loke that in most avionics systems size will not help that much. France has access to better technology in many areas regarding sensors and avionics components. They have pretty advanced industry themselves and can buy many things from other Western countries like UK, Germany and most of all USA. That's really not possible for China to do in many cases and have to rely on homegrown technologies and manufacturing capabilties. Of course there are limits what will be sold to France as well, but they can access much more than China can.
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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 19:20

Look at F-15 vs. F-16 -- they have in general been at the same technology level, and the F-15 has a much bigger radar; still in exercises it has been demonstrated that all the benefits of having a larger a/c does not mean complete superiority over the F-16


During dissimilar exercises, F-15 AMRAAM dominated early M2000. Things reversed completely with the advent of MICA and RDI/RDY radars. F-15 countermeasures weren't able to "see" they were locked. Results were... Well ... worrisome. Things reverted again with new AESA radar and longer range AMRAAM versions that gave F-15 the edge again. So size can be a quality in itself, but not without drawbacks.

Agree with you o low probable number of J-20 Hornetfinn, they are meant to be the "tip of the spear" (aimed at killing force multipliers and open the door to hordes of other fighters)
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Unread post15 Feb 2018, 20:46

Iranian F-14s only admitted to losing one long range air battle against Iraqi fighters, the last, against French technology.

‘We were aware of the Super 530Fs and well informed about them. We had no problems staying out of their envelope, as on 9 July, when Maj Zooghi shot down a Mirage escorting a group of Su-22s over Abadan. But the Super 530D, with its longer range, Mach 5+ speed and better snap-down capability, was a nasty surprise.

‘On 19 July 1988, four Mirage F 1EQ-6s approached a pair of our F-14s. They converged on them from different directions, jamming our fighters so as to deny them the opportunity to use their AIM-54s. They then engaged with Super 530D missiles. Both Tomcats were downed.
Some 20 minutes later the Mirages came back and shot down an F-4E that we had sent out to locate the downed crews. Our HQs then told us that the missiles used by the Mirages had homed on radar emissions from our AWG-9s. Only later did we learn that the French had supplied a trial batch of their Super 530Ds to Iraq.’

And so the IrAF, after suffering immense losses to Iranian F-14s during the long and bloody war, ended the conflict on a high note. And the tired IRIAF F-14 pilots were denied an opportunity to respond in kind.
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Unread post16 Feb 2018, 14:23

Helo Marsavian.

I was not trying to emphasize the quality of french weapons. Just saying those "versus" topics are swinging with time and that size can be a quality, but also a problem.
Interesting story about Super530F. Thank you.
Last edited by monkeypilot on 16 Feb 2018, 21:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post16 Feb 2018, 17:01

marsavian wrote:Iranian F-14s only admitted to losing one long range air battle against Iraqi fighters, the last, against French technology.

‘We were aware of the Super 530Fs and well informed about them. We had no problems staying out of their envelope, as on 9 July, when Maj Zooghi shot down a Mirage escorting a group of Su-22s over Abadan. But the Super 530D, with its longer range, Mach 5+ speed and better snap-down capability, was a nasty surprise.

‘On 19 July 1988, four Mirage F 1EQ-6s approached a pair of our F-14s. They converged on them from different directions, jamming our fighters so as to deny them the opportunity to use their AIM-54s. They then engaged with Super 530D missiles. Both Tomcats were downed.
Some 20 minutes later the Mirages came back and shot down an F-4E that we had sent out to locate the downed crews. Our HQs then told us that the missiles used by the Mirages had homed on radar emissions from our AWG-9s. Only later did we learn that the French had supplied a trial batch of their Super 530Ds to Iraq.’

And so the IrAF, after suffering immense losses to Iranian F-14s during the long and bloody war, ended the conflict on a high note. And the tired IRIAF F-14 pilots were denied an opportunity to respond in kind.


Great story. Thanks for sharing!
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Unread post16 Feb 2018, 22:01

loke wrote:Look at F-15 vs. F-16 -- they have in general been at the same technology level, and the F-15 has a much bigger radar; still in exercises it has been demonstrated that all the benefits of having a larger a/c does not mean complete superiority over the F-16; that is having the same technology level.


What the heck are you saying here? The F-15 with its larger radar is clearly superior to the F-16 in detection ad tracking range or more precisely the F-15 is clearly superior in BVR to the F-16.
What "exercises have demonstrated" is that the F-16 is more agile than the F-15 and as such have an edge in WVR combat something in where the radar plays a smaller and less important part.
The "same exercises" also demonstrated that in certain situations that the F-16 was able to surprise "electronically" the F-15 due to the F-16's lower RCS (while the F-15 has a much larger RCS).

So what you have with the F-15 versus F-16 scenario is:
- F-15 has a bigger and more powerful radar
- F-16 has a lower RCS.
And this can at sometimes level the things between the F-15 and F-16 (but not always and neither most of the times it seems)

But what the J-20 versus Rafale you'll have:
- J-20 has a bigger and more powerful radar
- J-20 has a lower RCS.
So if your example of the F-15 versus F-16 proves anything extrapolated to the J-20 versus Rafale is that once again the J-20 seems to be superior and not otherwise and you tried to prove.



loke wrote:Also, as I have stated repeatedly RCS cannot be eyeballed.


Like others already told you in the "F-35 vs Gripen" thread, YES "RCS can be eyeballed" in comparative terms when there's significant differences between the aircraft, like and again happens with the J-20 vs Rafale where the J-20 "can be eyeballed" as having a lower RCS than the Rafale due to the reasons which I specified above in which one of the most important is the ability for the J-20 to carry its weapons internally while the Rafale can only carry them externally, yada yada yada...
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Unread post16 Feb 2018, 23:20

SpudmanWP wrote:That number came up too during the initial buy and it was poo-pooed by the Rafale-baters club...

Wonder what they will say now?

They might say. Pixie dust is expensive.

Re: RCS, you can't tell by looking. All you can do is see what LO features the platform uses that can reduce RCS and speculate. There are some commonly known features, that are obviously missing from some platforms. You could make a long list of things that the rafale doesn't use, like having a non retractable fuel probe and an external canopy bow, etc, etc.
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