indranilroy wrote:^^^ George I don't like to bash the F-35 or Mr. Shukla.
I agree with you when you say F-35 was not designed with ground attack role, as I have not read anything related to the same. Also, avionics wise, stealthwise, engine wise, and weapons wise F-35 is 0.5 gen ahead of the 4++ gen fighters, as far as I know. However as far as air dominance against the flankers (Su-35) goes, it would not hold much ground. The point is that the Su-35s won't stay this way for long. Tech from PAK-FA will percolate to it within the next decade. It would not disappear from the radar all of a sudden but there is a lot of scope for it grow smaller. For example I am sure they would have a kind of radar blocker for the engine blades. May not be the exact one as the Pak-FA owing to intake lengths, shape etc., but certainly a derivatives. Things like filling in the gap between the engines with an internal bay, etc.
Would the Russians still persist with the Su-35 (apart from plug in upgrades) once the PAK-FA nears production? That apart, I can see the Su-35's RCS dropping to EF/Rafale levels at best but no lower. The Eurocanards would still show up on the Su-35's radar well before the F-35 does.
Having said that, Mr. Shukla doesn't make a lot of sense to me when he asks for F-35s. Posters above me have given very valid points. Basically it beats me when he fits F-35 into MMRCA role. He is from the forces. I am sure he knows the value of different roles. F-35 is an overkill by a long measure for the role of the MMRCA. Why would we want to maintain a VLO plane for that role. Where's the need? And in multirole the F-35 will have to go for external tanks and external weapons. VLO goes for a toss there. Even a kid enthusiastic in planes can say that a plane of that stature will have enormous maintenance costs. It might be justified for the top-of-line fighter of an AF. Not for the middle tier!
We've got plenty of strike options in the Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000, Tejas and Jaguar aircraft. The MKI in particular with its huge payload and range comfortably outperforms all MRCA contenders at long range strike. With 270 of them to be in service, is the EF/SH/Rafale's relative advantage at strike vis-a-vis the F-35, all that critical? Also, even with a external payload, the F-35 will be stealthier than the Euros or SV/SH.
With regard to maintenance, I'm less sceptical than others on the forum. The F-35 is single engined, designed with an emphasis on easy maintenance, has a variants for (maint. intensive) carrier operations and doesn't feature F-22-like absolute stealth. Also, when it came to exercises simulating wartime conditions, even the F-22 was able to produce mission availability rates in excess of 95%. Given that the F-35 is to replace the F-15, F-16, F-18, AV-2B and A-10, one can be fairly certain that the final product will be fairly maintenance friendly.