Is the Eurofighter Typhoon the Best Fighter?

RAF Eurofighter Tycoon. Photo: Chris Lofting.

In his 2021 book, Typhoon, Wing Commander Mike Sutton, OBE, RAF (Ret), who became a fighter pilot at a Royal Canadian Air Force base, where “The course had a fearsome reputation and a massive failure rate,” (p. 64) discussed the renowned Colonel John Boyd, USAF and his contribution to the design of fighters. “As a result of the invention of the missile, Cold War procurement had been myopically focussed on speed and nuclear weapons. Colonel Boyd’s vision challenged that concept. He knew that for a fighter to be truly successful it had to be highly agile and able to out-manoeuvre other aircraft. In his words, able to pull enough Gs at 30,000 feet to ‘roll down your goddamn socks’. The RAF had followed the traditional Cold War doctrine with the Jaguar and Tornado. Nukes and speed. John Boyd had fought his way through the endless layers of bureaucracy to finally convince the Pentagon to procure the F-15 and F-16, the most successful and agile fighters on the planet… With the Typhoon, the [Royal Air Force] had found itself with a world-class jet that even Colonel Boyd would have approved of. We were back in the game.” (p. 139)

As proof of the RAF’s Typhoon superiority he offered the following: “It had totally carefree handling. This meant you could snap the control column back as hard as you liked at any speed and it would be impossible to overstress the airframe. Once, when intercepting a formation of Tornados at low level, I merged head to head with them at 520 knots. As they raced down to the right, I turned the Typhoon onto its side and pulled fully back on the stick to slow. That allowed me to turn in a shorter distance and get behind them quickly. With the jet in full afterburner, I could feel my chest tightening. My legs became painfully heavy and my eyeballs pressed deep into their sockets as the aircraft maintained nine G and continued to accelerate like a spaceship. Unlike any competing jet in the world, it was impossible to stall, spin or lose control. If you slowed down too much, a warning voice that sounded like Judi Dench playing M in the Bond films would rebuke you through the headset: ‘… slow speed, recover … slow speed, recover …’ Judi always had the last word.” (pp. 136-137)

Sutton also opined that during the campaign against ISIS, “With the Typhoons, we had, in my opinion, the best multi-role fast jet in the world…”  (p. 193) and that “the Typhoon had performed superbly overall and the Paveways [precision guided bombs] had been incredibly accurate. By this stage, we had conducted hundreds of strikes. Every single one had been a DH [Direct Hit]. Crucially, this meant there had not been a single report of civilian casualties”, (p.330) At the same time, American aircraft like the F-35 were subjected to withering criticism, as I have detailed in two articles for CounterPunch, one piece featuring derisive comments by the founder of the USN’s Top Gun course. Even the legendary aircraft designer the late Pierre Sprey said the F-35 could not hold its own against aircraft like the Typhoon.

Would Colonel Boyd have approved of the Typhoon? Many would say yes. At least there is evidence from this RAF pilot that it is possibly the best fighter in the world today, and certainly better than the F-35. An article from 2013 reported that Typhoons had shot down “stealthy” F-22s in mock air combat, and that says something important in favor of the Typhoon. Finally, a retired USAF general who flew both the F-22 and the Eurofighter Typhoon said in a 2020 article that “the Eurofighter is certainly, as far as smoothness of controls and the ability to pull (and sustain high G forces), very impressive… That is what it was designed to do, especially the version I flew, with the avionics, the color moving map displays, etc.—all absolutely top notch. The maneuverability of the airplane in close-in combat was also very impressive.” That’s high praise indeed!


Mike Sutton. Typhoon: The Inside Story of an RAF Fighter Squadron at War. Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Roger Thompson “US Navy Top Gun Founder Thinks the F-35 is a Mistake” CounterPunch, April 7, 2023.

Thompson, “The F-35: Sales to Allied Countries Don’t Mean It’s A Great Airplane” CounterPunch, December 19, 2022.

David Cenciotti “There’s No Way The F-35 Will Ever Match The Eurofighter In Aerial Combat”, Business Insider, February 14, 2013.

Caleb Larson “The Eurofighter Typhoon Isn’t Stealthy – But F-22 Pilots Like It” The National Interest, April 22, 2020.

Roger Thompson is a research fellow at Dalhousie University’s Centre for the Study of Security and Development, the author of Lessons Not Learned: The US Navy’s Status Quo Culture, a former researcher at Canada’s National Defence Headquarters and Korea’s first Star Trek professor.