Of the MRCA candidates which has the best air superiority role? I think the strike can be handled by the many planes in IAF inventory.
The way TSP is in downward spiral India needs to ensure air strike from TSP is negated. The DRDO efforts(PAD/AAD/etc) in ABM show that the TSP mizziles will be fizzles.
So while the requirement is for multi-role, what is needed is an air superiority fighter.
just my thoughts.
not an easy question to answer.
I would rate only EF, rafale and shornet since the others are inadmissible IMHO due to various reasons. (mig-35 and F-16 old and little future, gripen, not quite what we should spend on. buying gripen would be being 'penny wise pound foolish' when we can get much better platforms for some more money)
for sheer aerodynamic performance nothing beats the typhoon with its superlative TWR, rafale comes second while the shornet is considered a brick. all 3 have good slow speed handling but shornet will find it harder to recover from an energy bleeding maneuver.
A) Aerodynamic Performance
Radar and overall sensor suite
shornet = rafale>~EF
not much to choose between the 3. shornet leads at the moment because US is much more experienced especially when it comes to AESA radars. that advantage will however erode with time. however it is unlikely we will get the real APG-79 from US. also, the fact that US depends on specialised stand-off jamming aircraft like the growlers(and hence not everything needs to be done by the vanilla platform) possibly counts against the shornet. rafale edges ahead of EF due to SPECTRA. shornet and rafale both lose points due to problems with IRST -- shornet doesn't have an internally mounted one and jugaads with one mounted on a drop tank, which comes with its own restrictions (unless they have changed this recently) while rafale has had major problems with its IR channel of OSF.
C) Weapons (only A2A)
one word, meteor. pushes both euro-canards far ahead of shornet.
in WVRAAMs all 3 are comparable but rafale's mica's come in both IR and EM varieties, and have BVR-ish ranges. that offers more flexibility than either EF's asraam/iris-T or shornet's aim-9x.
final numbers, out of 10 for A2A performance.
Aero Sensors Weapons Total
EF 9/10 7.5/10 8.5/10 25/30
Raf 8.5/10 8/10 9/10 25.5/30
F/A-18 6/10 8/10 7/10 21/30
personally, I think the A2G qualities are more important but not by much, about 55-45 should be the weightage. what IAF has right now is enough to destroy PAF's air power and stall PLAAF in a defensive war. what we need is enough quality for a possible counter force strike option to be on the PM's table.
admiral koshy sahab, I am not sure I agree with the size ~1/WVR capability thing.
what matters is the agility and those massive al-31's put out enough to keep the su's nimble. its superb nose pointing authority is very handy in any WVR situation. you need to look no further than No. 20 sqdn's deployment to nellis AFB for red flag.
before red flag started the su's practiced 1v1 (which makes it almost certainly WVR exercise. doesn't make much sense to have 1v1 BVR exercise) with USAF F-15 and F-16 aggressor squadrons at mountain home. after the 'youtube terry' incident pushpinder singh commented via flightglobal that the kill ratio was 21:1 in favour of the MKI's. this was confirmed by vishnu som(and also by shiv ji) on BR who was on the ground during red flag.
even that '1' in 21:1 was a draw, no MKI was 'shot down' in those 1v1 exercises.