My analysis of all six fighters-- first , the F-16...... what are its pros ?? its a proven combat aircraft , has a great record in both air to air and strike missions in real combat. has AESA radar which is proven , unlike the european aircrafts' AESA radars which are not yet ready . the block 70 version has really long range , longer even than the larger-sized sukhoi 30 that india has . like the block 60 for UAE , it has all internally fitted pods for targetting , so weapon stations are free. what are its cons ?? its an old , outdated airframe now ; other nations are moving towards newer aircraft . pakistan has it , so it knows the aircraft inside out , and knows how to counter it . US itself is going to replace it's own fleet of F-16s with F-35 , so no mid-life upgrades will be available 15 years down the line when india wants to upgrade it . lastly , the US has a propensity of slapping sanctions on a country at any given time , which may ground the entire fleet for lack of spares , so the US remains a notoriously unreliable supplier . the F-18...... First ,the pros..... its has a proven AESA radar , like that of the F-16. as a strike aircraft , it is great . it can fire a range of sophisticated air to surface weapons . india may opt for an aircraft more suited for the strike role , as it already possesses an air dominance aircraft ( sukhoi 30 MKI ) , but does not have an advanced strike aircraft , its jaguars and mig 27s being too obsolete . it can fight BVR air-to-air engagements as well , with its AESA radar and active BVR missiles, and this is important , as more of air-to-air engagements may occur at BVR range in future ( though not all ). its F414 engines have been selected for powering the LCA Tejas mark 2 indigenous aircraft of the indian air force , and commonality of engines could see the f-18 get ahead of other competitors . price is lower . cons...... its not exactly a new airframe , and america has stopped buying it , except for the electronic warfare version ( growler ). like the F-16 , it comes from america , and americans are prone to slap sanctions that can put the entire fleet in jeopardy . it is not so good in dogfights , and can be shot down if the adversary gets too close .. its combat radius ( 1100 km ) is not so great , and its weapon carrying tonnage is not great either , especially if you consider that it is a large aircraft . P.S.-- Boeing ( the aircraft's manufacturer ) has offered india a more advanced version of F-18 with conformal fuel tanks and internal targetting pods like the f-16 block 70 , which will give more combat radius . the rafale...... the pros..... its a nimble aircraft , good in dogfights . it has advanced cockpit , and the formidable SPECTRA electronic countermeasures system which gives virtual stealth......the rafale promoters prefer to call it discreet , not stealthy , but it remains the aircraft hardest to detect among the 6 MRCA contenders . SPECTRA also has an advanced IRST ( infra red search and track ) . has the longest combat radius among the 6 contenders --no less than 1850 km , due to its internal fuel capacity of 5700 liters ,and external carrying capacity ( on three external fuel tanks ) of 9000 liters . france is offering a full range of air to air and air to surface guided weapons , with full transfer of technology . its a formidable strike aircraft with advanced guided weapons , with true deep strike capacity . cons...... its real problem is that it has a radar ( RBE-2 ) with a low ( by the standards of today , at least ) air to air detection range of 100 km , which is only half of the range of the radar of the F-16 block 52s that pakistan has . the range is low because france depends on AWACS , which it has in large numbers , for air to air detection , which will give the co-ordinates of incoming enemy aircraft to the rafale by data-link. but other nations like india , which have a much larger space to defend , and less AWACS in numbers ,are hardly going to accept this . this is the primary reason why the rafale has failed to win even a single export contract , and remains its biggest bane . reportedly , france has offered a AESA radar with 40 percent increase in range , but indian air force officers were not impressed by it . reportedly , france wanted an aircraft which was more tilted to the strike role , as its earlier mirage 2000s were more suited for air to air combat ( though they had strike potential too , as india discovered in kargil war ) , but the decision was obviously wrong as the mirage 2000 had better export success due to this very factor ( of air to air capability ), while the rafale has not succeded ( so far ) due to its poor BVR capability . its also expensive , though less than the eurofighter . The Eurofighter Typhoon-- pros-- Its a great dogfighter , and eurofighter pilots are trained to withstand upto 12 g maneuvers as compared to pilots of other aircraft , who are trained to withstand 9 g maneuvers . It has supercruise , that is , it can fly at supersonic speeds without switching on its afterburners , and thus can fly supersonic for extended periods than other fighters , thus outrunning other fighters. ( afterburners use up a lot of fuel ) It is a formidable beyond visual range fighter , and its combination with the meteor long range missile is truely lethal . Next to Rafale , its not so easy to detect on radar . It can fly at 65,000 feet , 8,000 feet above the highest height that other fighters can climb , so it can simply fly above the other fighters where their missiles will find it hard to reach it . cons-- all these goodies come at an expensive price . if india decides to buy it , it may find it hard to fit the eurofighter in its budget.....and even harder to increase the number of its ordered planes , as it may do if other fighters are selected. it has less ground attack potential than rafale or f-18. p.s.-- eurofighter is doubtlessly the best of the contenders , but its only real problem is its price . can india afford it.....is the big question . Mig 35-- This is nothing but an extensively redesigned mig 29 aircraft , but the redesign has given it capabilities that take it to a totally different league than the earlier aircraft . pros-- let me remind that the russians are to aircraft what germans are to motorcars , and the hallmark of russian planes is power , performance and ruggedness . coming to the main topic , mig 35 has the ZHUK-ME AESA radar , and along with that a unique optical locator system ( OLS ) . The OLS , which was developed from the russian space programme combines infra-red search and track with TV guidance , and thus can detect air and ground targets without opening the radar . as radar is likely to be detected by RWR ( radar warning receivers ) of enemy aircraft , the OLS makes it possible to detect enemy targets without informing him of the aircraft's approach . this data is fed into the helmet-mounted sighting system of the pilot. it has overcome the deficiencies of the mig 29 , and has longer range , and its engines dont have to be overhauled regularly like the mig 29s engines , and are smokeless . it can carry out complex missions like air combat and reconnaisance and ground strike in the same mission , and has complete multi-role ability . it has multi-axis thrust vector controls on its engines , and can carry out astonishing manuevers with ease, stupefying those who watch them--terrific dogfighting ability . cons -- if we buy it ,nearly our entire fleet will be based on russian aircraft , and no sane country buy everything from the same buyer . what if something happens ( like a revolution in russia ) and russia cant supply spares for example ?? our entire fleet will be grounded . its like its old rival ,the f-16--based on an old airframe . the mig 29 didnt give india a great experience , and the fleet was grounded for long periods for lack of spares and constant engine overhauling . though the engine has rectified the problems , its still an uprated version of the old engine--india doesn't know whether to trust it . its AESA radar is not mature like the american's radars . it has less ground attack potential than rafale or f-18. JAS 39 Gripen -- pros -- its a lightweight fighter , yet it's capable of multirole warfare . The Gripen NG version that SAAB company is offering has a combat radius of 1300 km --thats good for a lightweight aircraft . Its capable of network -centric warfare with multidimensional datalinks . it has a superb and advanced cockpit with 3 multi-function displays and wide angle head up display . it's role can be changed form air combat to ground strike to reconnaissance by just changing the software of its computers . it can take off from roads , and does not require runways or much support personell . it is powered by the same F 414 engine that has been selected for tejas , and commonality of engine could tilt the balance in its favour . all this comes at a lower price as far as money is concerned......so we can buy more gripens if LCA fails , we could buy more Gripens too . cons -- its engine is american , so sanctions slapped by america could effectively ground the fleet. compared to eurofighter it is less capable . has only seven weapon points .