Eurofighter boasts Typhoon reign over F-35

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Eurofighter has launched a new campaign to assert the supremacy of the Typhoon against the Lockheed Martin F-35 in air-to-air combat, describing internal simulations giving the former an advantage over a numerically superior F-35 attack force.

The campaign is aimed at challenging Lockheed's claims that the F-35 enjoys a 6:1 exchange ratio over modern fighters.

Eurofighter also hopes to dispel creeping global acceptance of Lockeed's description of the F-35 as a fifth-generation fighter that is implicitly superior to so-called fourth-generation fighters, such as the Typhoon. The challenge appears as several countries face decisions over buying both aircraft. On 20 July, Italy announced a decision to cancel a planned Tranche 3B contract for 25 Typhoons.

 © Geoffrey Lee/Eurofighter

In Eurofighter's view, buying F-35s at the expense of fewer Typhoons reduces the air force's overall capability. Eurofighter respects the F-35 as a world-class fighter for the air-to-ground mission, but not as a fighter in the traditional role as an air-to-air machine, says Craig Penrice, a Typhoon pilot and marketing adviser.

Lockheed and programme officials have claimed that the days of traditional dogfighting are over. A promotional video released last year by F-35 supplier Northrop Grumman claims, for example, that "manoeuvrability is irrelevant" to a modern fighter. The video shows the F-35 can defeat opponents not with dogfighting skill, but by firing missiles agile enough to turn 180º.

Eurofighter, however, claims the F-35 lacks all-aspect, very low observable stealth, and is vulnerable to detection and defeat by non-stealthy opponents.

In an internal simulation series, Eurofighter found that four Typhoons supported by an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) defeated 85% of attacks by eight F-35s carrying an internal load of two joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) and two air-to-air missiles, Penrice says.

According to Laurie Hilditch, Eurofighter's head of the future requirements capture, the F-35's frontal-aspect stealth can be defeated by stationing interceptors and AWACS at a 25º to 30º angle to the F-35's most likely approach path to a target.