The New Air Superiority Benchmark
Thursday the 19th of February 2004 will mark the day when the undisputed king of air superiority had to surrender its thirty-year crown to a newcomer. It happened over the skies of Windermere, in the scenic English Lake District. Two Eurofighter Typhoon twin-seaters were on the first RAF formation training flight from Warton Aerodrome when they were bounced from the eight o'clock by a couple of F-15Es belonging to the USAFE's 48th TFW, probably the most formidable and experienced combat unit in the European theatre. The Typhoon crew did not seem to be intimidated and with two rapid counters ended up on the F-15 tail, comfortably gunning the trailing one, who was in full afterburner, wings rocking and wondering what had happened.
It is fair to expect that the most surprised by this first encounter result would be the F15 crew, used to dominate the skies since the mid-seventies and with an exchange ratio record of 101 wins to zero losses, and a bunch of die-hard Eurofighter critics without much knowledge of the new fighter air combat capabilities. It is understandable if the RAF rookies would also show their surprise at the outcome, as one does not expect to win an air engagement on the first training sortie with a brand new machine against one of the best combat units in the world, riding what up to now has been the best fighter in history.
But that is history now!
Those definitely not surprised by what the events over the Lake District skies signify are the top echelon in the Air Combat Command, the Chief of Staff and the RAND Corp. analysts and boffins. They have been saying for years that the F-15 is no match to the new generation of European fighters and even to the Su-35 Flanker. They know what they say: their operational analyses studies and other simulated evaluations-as indeed have ours, both at the industry and government level-have shown that the F-15 is unable to gain air superiority against Eurofighter Typhoon. Now they have the first real indication that their worries were not unjustified and that the F/A-22 was the right choice, if they want to maintain the air superiority also in the future.
All i can say on the part of the F-15 crew is, Whoops:)