Monday, February 14, 2011

Naval Eurofighter Typhoon vs F/A-18 for the Indian Navy

Eurofighter GmBh has announced  in Aero India 2011 that it is in talks with India to jointly develop a naval version of the Eurofighter Typhoon, especially for the Indian Navy.
   In its flyer issued on 11 Feb, Eurofighter GmBh has outlined the potential advantages of the Naval variant, as compared to the American F/A-18 Hornet , which it describes as " heavy,slow and not capable of facing advanced threats "     ( talk about offensive advertising :-P ).

See it here:

The Eurofighter Typhoon

How the proposed Naval  Eurofighter Typhoon  measures up with the F/A-18 :- 

Engine modifications : The naval variant is offering helmet mounted cueing system (HMCS) and thrust vectoring as its two core technologies... This would enable the aircraft to land more safely on aircraft carriers, negating the use of  arrestor cables. The arrestor frame caused unnecessary aerodynamic drag to the aircraft, coupled with increased landing difficulty , such as the F/A -18.

It must be noted that Thrust Vectoring is a capability which even the F/A-18 doesn`t have. Currently the NASA experimental version of the F/A-18 uses thrust vectoring , though it has not been used by any section of the military as yet.

Avionics : The naval typhoon offers AESA ( Active Electronically Scanned Array ) radar , whereas the F/A-18 has the old AN/APG-65 radar. obviously here, the AESA radar offers much better protection to the Fighter by transmitting powerful signals without remaining much visible to enemy radars.
Incidentally, the AESA radar is used in advanced 5th generation fighters like the F-22 raptor and the F-35 Lightening II.

Performance : As far as performance is concerned , the Typhoon is admittedly much more superior to the F/A-18 in terms of maneuverability , agility , fuel burn and overall handling. Further, the Typhoon can accelerate to Mach 1.5, without afterburners !  This would be a great capability any navy would want to have.

Radar Signature : Typhoon has great measures taken to reduce its radar signature - less than 1 sq. metre. Although not a stealth fighter, radar detection is significantly more difficult  compared to other fighters in its class. The F-18 has significantly more cross section and hence a greater radar signature.

Other Factors :  The Indian Navy may be interested in this offer from another politico-management point of view.

On any day, Typhoon`s maintenance and spare parts would be more reliable, compared to what the US can offer, due to its ever changing domineering foreign policy, sanctions , export restrictions etc.

Also,Eurofighter GmBh is seriously pursuing India for joint development programs and technology transfer for the naval typhoon, which means that soon, Indian companies will be churning out future typhoons the same way HAL manufactures Sukhoi 30-MKIs.

A note to add : The current comparison is with the classic F/A- 18 which is currently in use by many nations world over.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet, is the latest variant by Boeing which has better avionics and features compared to the F/A-18, like the AESA radar, and is more or less at par with the Typhoon.

Avionics have been the major thrust in this variant, in addition to airframe changes which have resulted it in being 20 % larger and heavier by 3200 Kg. On the other hand, there is a 40% increase in range.

But again, in an aircraft carrier, range is not as important a criterion than the weight and takeoff/landing capabilities are.Here , the Typhoon still scores over.

Anyhow, lets not forget that the naval typhoon is still in the design stage and no prototype has been flown yet.Compare this to the F/A-18`s impressive naval track record.
There is some real thinking to do on the part of the Indian Navy.

On the whole, it will be interesting to see India`s response to this proposal.
AirborneGeeks will keep you updated.


Gary Carter said...

India will go with F18 because much cheaper, not much different in performance and by the time theve built naval Typhoon cost will have gone up even more! And will be deliverd late, no dought. Also F18 has proven record.

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