Rafale Vs F-18 Vs F-35: The Best Aircraft Carrier Fighter Jets Compared
Examining the three most advanced and capable aircraft carrier fighters of 2021.
There are only a few navies that operate aircraft carriers in the 21st century. The U.S. Navy is at the top of the list as it deploys the most advanced aircraft carriers that ever existed. Except for the U.S., two powerful Queen Elizabeth-class carriers serve in the Royal Navy since 2017. But what makes an aircraft carrier so important and dangerous in the seas?
Of course, the ability of the vessel to carry and launch military fighters, aircraft, and helicopters from its deck. So, the fighters of the carrier must be capable and effective. The Dassault Rafale, the F-35B Lightning II, and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet are the best of its kind, but which one of these three is the best carrier fighter?
The French Masterpiece
The Dassault Rafale is, for real, one of a kind. The aircraft is doing impressively well in the skies, with great maneuverability and excellent agility.
The Rafale can perform successfully in both fighter and bomber roles and can operate in different types of missions. Its control systems are one of the most advanced and precise of the world, a feature really decisive for a carrier based aircraft. Its combination of agility, deadly weᴀponѕ and perfect systems make it almost unbeatable.
Plus, many believe that SPECTRA, the defensive aids suit used in the Rafale, is the most powerful of its kind right now and that gives the aircraft a big advantage against its competitors.
F-35B: The Best Version So Far?
The Lockheed Martin F-35B is the version of the F-35 Lightning II meant to perform on aircraft carriers, as it has Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) capabilities. The greatest feature of the aircraft, its stealth profile, makes it almost invisible to most enemy radars.
The modern systems of the F-35B in a combination with its lethal weᴀponѕ and its stealth technology makes the 5th-gen fighter a key weᴀpon for any aircraft carrier. Imagine the offensive potential of a fleet that can deploy stealthy missions with the capable F-35B jet. But sadly, the F-35s have encountered a lot of issues during their short lifetime. Without those issues and technical problems, the aircraft would have been much more successful.
The Cheap But Reliable Super Hornet
The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is undoubtedly an aircraft that will stay in US history for a long time. The trustworthy multi-fighter was one of the first that performed both in fighter and bomber roles. The aircraft has some designs characteristics that help in reducing its cross-radar section, furthermore make it a bit stealthier. Although it’s a very reliable and inexpensive option, it’s inferior at high altitudes comparing to its competitors in this list. Its top speed is another disadvantage of the Super Hornet. Although, the weᴀpon options of the aircraft is in another level with a huge variety of missiles available. The Super Hornet has proved itself many times in both fighter and bomber roles and have become the most classic carrier based aircraft of the modern times for the US Navy.
Which Carrier Fighter Is The Best?
Before pointing out the winner, let’s have a look at other honorable mentions, like the promising Shenyang J-15. The Chinese long range fighter is yet to prove its self on the battlefield, and it’s very possible that it will compete with the other three aircraft of our list in the near future. We shouldn’t forget the F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft, the based version of the Super Hornet, which is still one of the great carrier based aircraft built. Last but not least, the Russian great aircraft with carrier capabilities, the Mikoyan MiG-29K, is a versatile option with effective weapons and radars. If the issues that the Indian Navy face weren’t a thing, the MiG-29 would sure rank higher.
But the three most advanced and capable aircraft carrier fighters of 2021 are the Rafale, the F-35B and the F-18 Super Hornet. Out of these three aircraft, the most advanced carrier based fighter is the Dassault Rafale, mainly because of its amazing weᴀponѕ, systems and its flexibility in the sky. In the second place, the F-35B is an excellent choice for any navy and could consider a very decisive weᴀpon due to its stealth capabilities. In the third place, the Super Hornet is the most successful of this list, as it has more time in battle than Rafale and F-35B have combined. The F-18 is a fantastic aircraft that can do almost anything at a logical cost.