Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweden = Switzerland

A lot of people around the world (mostly in the big country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean) has big problems in knowing the difference between Sweden and Switzerland. Well, to be honest, it is easy to mix the two countries up.

Both are democratic, neutral countries that avoided both the first and the second world war. Both are outside of NATO (even though Sweden is getting closer and closer and Switzerland takes part in NATO PfP).

During the Cold War, Switzerland was a buffer zone between East and West, much in the same way as Sweden. As a result Switzerland together with Sweden still are considered to be neutral enough to supervise the armistice line between North and South Korea.

But there are also differences.

Switzerland is not an member of EU and therefore does not take part in the plans for a common European defence. Sweden on the other hand is very active in EU since the lack of a NATO-membership has resulted in the need to seek protection from another organisation. Much in the same way as Finland and Ireland, Sweden is instead very active in the EU Battlegroup koncept.

Switzerland is a new member of the UN (Sweden has since Dag Hammarskjöld been very close to the UN), but has like Sweden taken part in peace keeping operations. So far Switzerland has stayed out of peace enforcing operations such as Afghanistan or Libya. Sweden on the other side is planning to use its professional corps in a more aggressive way in the future. Libya might just be the start of it.

Switzerland has build its defence capability on a large conscript force numbering some 600.000 men. Sweden has recently changed its armed forces structure from a conscript system of about 800.000 men to a professional soldier force of full and part-time soldiers together with full time officers and NCO. There are some ideas about doing the same in Switzerland, but I think it will take a long time to switch the system since it has been a part of the Swiss tradition for many years. On the other hand, never say never. It took the Swedish government just a few years to change the system in Sweden. Only the future will show if it is successful or not.

Now the close connection between Sweden and Switzerland are about to get even closer. Switzerland has announced that Sweden and Saab is the favourite in the process of buing the replacement aircraft for the F-5 Tiger. 22 aircraft is planned. No contract has been signed yet and it is not even clear if it is the C/D-version of the Gripen or the future E/F-version.

Why Gripen? How could Gripen beat the Rafale (Switzerland has close ties to France) or the Eurofighter? The Rafale and the Eurofighter are both twin-engine aircraft with a lot of power and a capability to carry a lot of ordnance.

The minister of defence in Switzerland, Mr Ueli Maurer stated that Gripen was maybe not the best aircraft, but that it was good enough for Switzerland and the price was about 33% less than the competitors. The maintenance cost per flight hour is about 1/10 of that of Rafale or Eurofighter.

But the low prize and high bang-per-buck factor might not be all.

Switzerland might get more cooperation from Sweden than from France or UK. There will most likely be a lot of industrial cooperation or off-set affairs. I would guess that the assembly of the aircraft will be done in Switzerland. Companies like Ruag and Zeiss will be sub-contractors. There are also rumors about Sweden buying Pilatus PC-21 as the future lead-in trainer for the Swedish Air Force to replace the ageing Saab 105 (SK 60) fleet. Since Saab is providing training by the hour to the Air Force this might be a very fast transition into new aircraft without the need of Swedish Government approval or a need to follow EU regulations regarding keeping the bidding process open for everyone.

Gripen is also ideal for the Swiss tactics.

The A/B-version of the Gripen was designed for specific Swedish tactics. The C/D-version has been re-designed for NATO-tactics with among other things Link-16, Have Quick, Air-to-Air refueling etc.

Since Switzerland is not an NATO-member, the later capability might not be on top of the wish-list. Surprisingly the previous capability might be so.

Switzerland has a tactic of using road-bases for aircraft operations in war-time. It is a tactic that was developed by German Luftwaffe during WWII when the fixed airbases was bombed and instead the Autobahn was used for aircraft operations. The Gripen is designed in a similar way to take-off and land on 800 m short strips that was part of the Swedish dispersed base system BAS-90.

The F-5 is today mainly used by the Swiss Air Force Reserve. Pilots and maintenance personnel that on a day-to-day basis work in civilian airline companies but during parts of the year fly and operate the F-5. The Gripen is designed to be very easy to fly and maintain. In the Swedish Air Force the aircraft usually were maintained by conscripts with some 6 months of training. All aircraft equipment have self-diagnostics and can easily be replaced on the flight line. Replacing the engine can be done within a few hours on the flight line or in maintenance tents.

From a training point of view Sweden has one very unique capability. That is the vast and sparsely populated areas in the northern part of Sweden. The training ranges are among the biggest in the world. Here low-level flying can be trained without any complaints from the locals. At the Vidsel firing range all type of AA/AG-weapons can be used (including AIM-120 AMRAAM). Switzerland has previously deployed to Sweden with their Mirage fighters for this type of training. My guess is that Swiss aircraft will be a frequent flyer to Sweden in the future. When Switzerland use the same aircraft as Sweden it will also be much easier since a lot of the needed infrastructure (ground support units, generators, fuel, spare-parts, consumables etc) are already in place at the Vidsel Airbase.

But first of all the contract need to be signed. My guess is that the Dassault and Eurofighter consortium will do their best to interrupt the negotiations. There are talks about a national vote in Switzerland. But this will not be to select a more expensive aircraft instead of Gripen. It will be a choice between buying a new fighter or cutting down on the Swiss Air Force to only F/A-18 and in the future nothing at all. But the Swiss people still remembers WWII when they were very close to be annected by Germany. Therefore I doubt they will cut down on their defences.

Ny Teknik 1, Ny Teknik 2

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New orders?

What will the future for the Swedish Armed Forces look like? Well, a lot depends on the success of the current international operations that Sweden has taken or takes part in.

The Air Force has recently pulled out of Libya. The military part of the operation has been a success. Gadaffi is dead an the rebels are in control of most of Libya. However there are a lot of weapons that has not been accounted for. There is a huge risk for a civil war in Libya if the National Transitional Counsil does not take control of the country and disarm the rebel forces. The "Arab Spring" has resulted in the removal of tyrants, but can very well result in the installation of new ones. In Tunisia the islamic party Ennahda has won the election. Hopefully it will not enforce religious laws on the population. In Egypt there are still riots on the streets even after Mubarak was forced to resign. And these were the "peaceful" rebellions. What will happen with Libya?

In Afghanistan the future looks very unclear. ISAF will pull out in 2014. The Swedish troops in Mazar-i Sharif will start to pull out during 2012. This is a decision by the Swedish government supported by he Social Democrats and the Green party. 150 soldiers will leave during 2012 and in May/April 2014 the unit will leave the country. During 2012, three of the provinces will be transferred to ANSF control. The Swedish helicopter unit will stay. Unclear for how long. They have today two HKP 10 Super Puma and will after 2013 replace them with HKP 16 Blackhawk. After 2014 about 200 Swedish personnel will be in the country training Afghan units. But who will ensure their safety? If the security situation in Afghanistan will not be good enough in 2014 I seriously doubt that any Swede will stay in he country. Unfortunately the violence has increased in he northern provinces. If this is due to increased activity in the south and a change of operations in the north is hard to tell.

If the result of these Peace Enforcing missions will be countries left in chaos, then I believe that the Swedish government will change its policy and return to Peace Keeping missions.

But what do the Swedish politicians have to say about the future?

In a recent article in the Swedish paper "Svenska Dagbladet", Peter Hultquist (Socialdemocrat) and chairman of the Defence board of the Swedish national assembly (Riksdagens försvarsutskott) said that the opposition will not see Sweden lead another EU Battlegroup in the future. He also criticize the new logistical organisation and most of all the professional soldier system that last year replaced the conscript system. He stress the importance of supporting the Swedish military industry and in the near future the new A26 submarine.

I agree on the need to cancel Swedish involvement into EU Battlegroups. There is no future in building up the EU military capability as an alternative to NATO. The only countries that realy want this are those outside of NATO, such as Sweden and Finland. The other can not afford even a NATO-membership, even less extra cost for an alternative force structure. If Sweden want to take part in Rapid Reaction Units, then it should be NATO QRF. The Sedish Air Force squadrons are very adapted to this, which clearly the Unified Protector campaign showed. The Gripen Aircraft has NATO IFF, Link 16 and Have Quick radio. The pilots are trained in NATO-tactics and the staff units are used to NATO ATO - Air Task Orders.

I also agree on the need to investigate alternate solutions to the professional army. The recruitment basis for officers and soldiers will be too small. I also fear that the Swedish civilian population will have less understanding of what the Armed Forces are used for. My suggestion is to return to the conscript system, but have a three month training, much like the three month "boot camp", GMU - "Grundläggande Militär Utbildning"/Basic Military Training that is used today. Volunteers can the go on with the rest of the training to become soldiers, NCO:s or officers.

The development of the A26 submarine is also good in order to keep the knowledge of submarines development at Kockums. However Kockums is no longer a Swedish company, but owned by German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. To say that Swedish military industrial knowledge is preserved is not accurate. The socialdemocrat politicians has also historically has a close connection to the industry. In some cases this has resulted in just developing military material rather than developing military capability.

Well, what is the governmental response on the Socialdemocrat critique?

Ceciilia Wennerström and Hans Wallmark of the Moderat-party response by saying that future Battlegroups will be pulled from regular army and air force units. They also say that the reason that the air force unit could be sent to Libya was due to tha fact that it was part of the Nordic Battlegroup NBG11 in standby alert. They also focus on the need to support EU military capability.

Well, what to say?

There is a big discrepancy. In the same article they say that the reason to why Sweden succeeded in sending the Air Force unit to Libya was because it was on high alert, but also that in 2014 any unit could be sent abroad without being specifically put on high alert.

Both statements are wrong!

The Swedish Air Force has always been on high alert and taking part in around the clock Combat Patrols over Sweden as part of the Swedish QRA - Quick Readiness Alert. The only difference today is hat the squadrons are trained in NATO-tactics and that the aircraft are NATO-compatible. That the Air Force can respond quickly without being part of a Battlegroup is shown by the change of the uit down in Libya when F17 Wing (that was part of NBG11) was replaced during the summer by F21 Wing that was on ordinary Air Force alert.

To say that any unit could be send abroad as is after 2014 is also not correct. There are no Swedish units that look exactly as needed for international missions. It must be put together specifically. And then it is also a need to train the unit for the mission in order for them to up and running. As best individual platoons or even maybe companies can be sent as is. The rest including civilian doctors, nurses etc has to be recruited. The army units hat are planned to be sent to Afghanistan know exactly what they are preparing for and can be sent for pre-deployment training about half a year in advance. But to say that all units will have this capability at the same ime will never be possible. It is too costly for the Armed Forces. It all depends on the level of training they have received to say that they are on high alert. In the Air Force there are four combat squadrons. One will be on alert. One will be on rest after an alert period. One will perform basic training of new personnel and one will be preparing to be on high alert the next period.

This kind of articles are unfortunately only propaganda. The Swedish minister of defence has not earned his nick-name "Baghdad Bob" for nothing. He and his followers has not changed their opinion even though a lot of officers are complaining that the planned future for the Armed Forces has not received a balanced budget. To have a complete Armed Forces in alert cost a lot of money. Professional soldiers are more expensive than setting up units for international missions when needed.

The focus on EU is also catastrophic. Sweden is today in need of an international ally. EU will never be this ally. The only available ally is NATO. Do Sweden want to continue in this direction which will sooner or later result in he need to join NATO?

The problem with both the Socialdemocrat and the Moderat defence polisy is hat the budget is too small to handle all ideas. The Moderat future will end in that the Armed Forces will strive to keep their personnel due to lack of training and lack of money to pay decent wages to the professional soldiers and NCO. The Socialdemorat future will end in that the Armed Forces can not rain due to much of the economy is lost to "sponsor" the Swedish military industry.

It is fortunate for the Moderate party that I agree on their economical politics that has steered Sweden clear from the economical disasters that has affected the rest of Europe, because I do not agree on much of the current military politics! Unfortunately the Socialdemocrat ideas are not much better financed. And since the rest of their politics is not financed as well I will stay away from voting on them.

SvD1, SvD2, SvD3, SvD4, SvD5

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The end is near

The next few years are very decisive for Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab AB. The Gripen assembly line will soon be closed due to lack of customers. The only aircraft left to build is Thai Air Force batch 2 (6 aircraft), a few of the South African (most of the 26 on order has been delivered) and a few of the Swedish A2C updated Gripen (31 on order). Most likely this will finished in a few years time. This lack of future sales is however a common problem for all three major European military aircraft manufacturers.

What will happen after this?

- Thai Air Force will most likely buy some more aircraft. 12 Gripen is not a lot to build the future of their air defence capability on. At least 6 to complete one squadron of strength. If the introduction of the Gripen goes well it is likely that they will order another 18 to replace all their F-5. Somewhere in the future it will be a need to replace their F-16. But who knows what the political situation in Thailand will be then? The old king Bhumibol will not live forever and there is no heir that is as accepted as the king. The new prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will most probably give her brother Thaksin amnesty in the future. What kind of political unrest this ould lead to is hard to predict, but it will not make it easier to sell any more aircraft to Thailand.

- Two of the existing customers have troubles. Tho global financial problems have affected South Africa and Hungary and resulted in lack of money to operate their new aircraft. Of course this will be used by other companies to market their products. But it will be very difficult for them to show that their products are less costly to operate than the Gripen. The choice is between Gripen aor no fighter at all in the future. The outcome of such an campaign could be that there will be no fast jets at all operated in the future in these countries. Rumours say that USA is trying to convince Hungary to focus on helicopters instead of fighters.

- The Czech Air Force leasing contract ends in 2015. What will happen after this is still unknown. The pilots are very happy with their existing aircraft, but pilots don´t decide the future of their air forces, politicians do. Most likely USA and Lockheed Martin are doing their best to offer a "cheap" F-16 solutions in a similar way as for Poland. The F-16 is an older and less capable aircraft than the Gripen, but maybe closer ties to USA and NATO are more important for Czech politicians than the aircraft initself?

The new contracts are still to be decided. But new development in some countries might lead to fast decisions.

- The Swedish minister of defence is publicly stating thet if Brazil buys the Gripen E/F, then the Swedish Air Force will also by at least 10 Gripen E/F. Why he goes out with this message is unclear, but most likely it indicates that the Brazilian government is close to making a deal. The previous president Lula had close ties to France (Rafale), but president Dilma seems it is more important to have close ies to USA (F-18). Unfortunately Sweden is a small player on the global political arena and this might result in a second place in the competition.

- In India the Gripen is not in the MMRCA-competition any more. But there are other business deals in India that might be more attractive to Saab. The MRMR competitin is still ongoing.

Swedish defense and aerospace company SAAB is planning to offer its SAAB 2000 aircraft to the Indian Navy when it issues a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft in the next few months.

While the SAAB 2000 is being offered with the RBS-15 Anti Ship Missile and a fifth generation Selex AESA radar, what is also interesting is that SAAB is offering re-manufactured aircraft, since the company ceased production of the aircraft in 1999.

“We will take an existing SAAB 2000. We will re-manufacture it and build it up. So it will be ground zero flying hours. We will have all the warranties. We will have 35,000 flying hours. It will have 25 years of support,” said Tommy Hultin, SAAB’s Business Development Director for the program.

That is one reason to why Saab still focusing on India.

This centre is a part of Saab's future offer for the world market. The aim of the research and development centre is to transfer to India continuously, already identified concrete programmes and technologies. The centre will form a bridge between India and Sweden, and together with an initial base of 100-300 skilled Indian engineers, form the backbone of the centre. It will stimulate innovation all around India, said Saab president and CEO Hekan Bushke.

The areas of focus would cover aerospace, defence and urban innovation, including civil security. The centre will be established in cooperation with Indian partners and universities, and will create new innovations, new technology and exporting opportunities for Indian governmental, academic and industry entities.

There are also other interesting Saab products for India. The RBS 70 NG has lately been offered.

The Swedish defense company, Saab, has offered the RBS 70 NG for the Indian tri-service tender for Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) systems. The tender is for an initial order estimated to be worth INR 27,000 crore (USD 5.4 billion) for over 800 launchers and over 5,000 missiles. Saab says it has sold more than 1600 systems and 17,000 missiles to 18 countries. This could be its single largest order if it works out for them.

- Switzerland has been evaluating fighters for many years to replace their F-5. The evaluation has been stopped more than once in order for the government to find political approval from the the voters. But now they have decided to go ahead with the evaluation again.

Parliament has approved an annual budget of SFr5 billion ($5.6 billion) for Switzerland’s armed forces, including the purchase of fighter jets.

The Senate on Wednesday followed the House of Representatives in agreeing to pay for the new aircraft, despite opposition by the centre-left which is concerned about costs in other areas. Critics also pointed out that the bill could not be challenged to a referendum.

It is not clear if the Suiss Air Force will go for the Gripen E/F or if the budget will only allow them to focus on the Gripen C/D. After all Switzerland is not a big country and the extra range of the Gripen E/F might not be a decisive capability.

I personally believe that Saab´s main focus should be to sell the cost effective Gripen C/D to countries with a low budget instead of competing with the Gripen E/F against the more expensive Rafale, Eurofighter, F-35 and PAK-FA T-50. Unfortunately the countries interested in an inexpensive capable fighter as the Gripen C/D (Croatia, Bulgaria, Rumania etc.) has almost no money at all. There is a need for a deal that gives something in return for these countries. But EU rules today forbid so called offset affairs (if you buy something from me, then I buy something from you).

What will the Swedish government do? They have officially declared that Gripen will be the backbone of he Swedish Air Force until at least 2040. But in order to do so Saab must survive as a manufacturer of aircraft to be able to support the future operational usage of Gripen. Maybe the Swedish government must support Saab in the same way as France supports Rafale? This was the way it was done during the development of the earlier Saab Viggen. A very close cooperation between the Swedish Defence Material Administration, FMV and Saab. In this way the price of export Gripen could further be lowered on the global market. The only thing that might stop this is EU rules, forbidding governments to support and favor their local industry. But when it comes to national security these rules can always be overruled.

Maybe this is a reason to why Sweden has started a governmental organisation FXM to coordinate the government and industry when it comes to large sales on the international market. After all the Swedish government can offer financial support connected to the state bank, offset affairs when it comes to buy military equipment from this specific country instead of others and the Swedish industry can offer offset affairs when it comes to development of sub-systems in the Gripen and maybe in some cases local assembly of the complete aircraft.

Dassault and Lockheed Martin has a lot of support from their governments. It would be very naive of the Swedish government to believe that Saab could survive on the international market without their support. It would also be very naive of Saab to believe that they can do this on their own and that they do not need their Swedish customer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Czech Republic going strong

The Czech Air Force has been leasing their JAS 39C/D Gripen since 2005. And the pilots and technicians has truly shown that they have mastered their new aircraft. During these years they have been transforming from old Mig-21 to a 4:th generation aircraft with datalinks and swingrole capability (possible to change mission type from air-to-air to air-to-ground while airborne.

If you ask a Czech pilot or technician they are very proud of what they have achieved during these six years. This is clearly shown in the popular yearly 211 squadron Gripen calendar. In Sweden the Gripen PR-staff is blushing, these type of pictures are not allowed in Sweden any more. But who cares, everyone else likes these calendars!

- During 2009 they took part in NATO QRA - Quick Readiness Alert over the Baltic countries. With only 14 Gripen aircraft in the Air Force they managed not only to have two aircraft plus one spare in high alert over the Baltic Sea. At the same time they had two more aircraft plus one spare in NATO QRA over the Czech Republic! The aircraft in the Baltic QRA performed more Aplha Alerts than any other NATO country that has taken part in the Baltic QRA. This is good example of the availablility and easy maintenance of the Gripen. The German Air Force took over after the Czech Republic with their new Eurofighters. They could however not get their aircraft working after landing so they asked the Czech to keep their Gripen at the base for another day. A few days later the Eurofighters were replaced with old F-4 Phantoms!

- In 2010 the 211 squadron won the Tiger Meet Trophy as best squadron. This clearly show that the squadron know how to use their aircraft and that they and their aircraft are fully NATO-compatible.

The Gripen squadron has been very busy "painting" their aircraft!

- In 2010 the Czech Air Force also reached 10.000 flying hours produced in their Gripen aircraft. This indicates that they are producing more than 2000 flying hour per year or more than 145 flying hours per aircraft. Since they currently not use Air to Air refuelling this indicates many sorties per year for each aircraft. Also a good indication of the availability of the Gripen.

The Czech Air Force have only 14 Gripen (2xJAS39D two-seater and 14xJAS39C one-seater), but they are producing a lot of flying hours each year. As a fact when it comes to producing flying hours per air craft they are the top-producing Gripen user in the world. One result is that Major Otokar Prickner recently became the first non-swedish Gripen pilot that reached 1000 flying hours in the Gripen!

As a complement to the Gripen, the Czech Air Force have one squadron with Aero Vodochny L-59 "Elka" or "Super Albatros" as they are known in the west.

The Czech Air Force focus on air-to-air missions and thay are very good at it. Armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9M Sidewinder and 27mm Mauser guns the Gripen is a very potent fighter. The Czech government has decided that the air force shall focus on homeland defence and NATO QRA.

The existing Gripen leasing contract ends in 2015. Lockheed Martin is doing their best to sell updated F-16 aircraft to the Czech politicians. But I believe that if the pilots have anything to say about it, they would like to go on using their Gripen. After all, why change aircraft when you have invested a lot of years and money to learn about how to use the existing Gripen aircraft and when the one you have is working very well?

Read more at the 211 squadron homepage.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lundin Oil, Swedish bad boy

Two Swedish journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, are facing long prison sentences in Ethiopia. They were caught 1 July 2011 together with members of the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) guerrilla. But what were they doing in Ethiopia? In a letter to a friend they say they were investigating the Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum business in the Ogaden Province. Lundin Petroleum used to be involved i a project to find Natural Gas and most likely they are working closely with the government. Today Lundin Oil is no longer present in the area, but Africa Oil is and they are part of the Lundin Petroleum business group. In Sweden Africa Oil is recommended by financial experts (E24, Privata Affärer) to be a good company to invest money into. Money is always money, blood money or not.

Lundin Petroleum (previously Lundin Oil) has been involved in many shady projects around the world. In Sudan they have been accused to be part in the genocide in the area. Not actively of course, but they have been working together with groups that were involved in the civil wars. Anyway, Lundin Petroleum was last year investigated by the Swedish court if the were involved in crimes against humanity.

Mohammed Hussein has written an article on the Swedish Newsmill. His theory is the the Ethiopian government want to cover up all evidence regarding crimes against humanity and genocide in the area. A New York Times journalist, Geffrey Gettleman, wrote an article about Ogaden in 2007. Here is a video from his visit in the area.

Even so, the State Department, the European Parliament and many human rights groups, mostly outside Ethiopia, have cited thousands of cases of torture, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings — enough to raise questions in Congress about American support of the Ethiopian government.

“This is a country that is abusing its own people and has no respect for democracy,” said Representative Donald M. Payne, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and global health.

“We’ve not only looked the other way but we’ve pushed them to intrude in other sovereign nations,” he added, referring to the satellite images and other strategic help the American military gave Ethiopia in December, when thousands of Ethiopian troops poured into Somalia and overthrew the Islamist leadership.

The violence in areas like Ogaden risk to turn the locals to more radical groups with connections to Islamist terrorist organisations. This is the official reason to why USA is working together with the Ethiopian government. But maybe this campaign is what causing the Islamist groups to grow? The real reasons behind the US involvement might not only be to stop terror, but also to get access to the oil? In Sweden a lot of people accuse USA to focus their military campaigns in regions where there are money to be made on natural resources. But maybe Sweden is not much better than USA?

The journalists were writing a report that were going to be published in Swedish papers. The Magazine "Filter" was maybe one potential client, but refuses to acknowledge this. Mattias Göransson, the publisher of "Filter" say that they were contacted by the journalists before they went to Ethiopia, but warned them against travelling there since the risks simply were to big.

The Committee to Protect Journalists does not think he Swedish journalists will face a fair trial. Without diplomatic help from Sweden they will be sent to prison, guilty or not.

However, the Swedish foreign ministry are not doing very much in the case to free the journalists. It just so happens that the Swedish minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Carl Bildt, previously was a member of the board in Lundin Oil between 2000-2006! Maybe this is one reason to why the Swedish diplomats are using their world famous "silent" diplomacy. In this case very silent. If there are questions raised regarding how Lundin Petroleum act in he area, this might very well be sensitive to the Swedish government since Mr Bildt was part of the board when Lundin Petroleum was active in Ethiopia. There are many questions in his case and very few answers.

P.S: There is another very similar case. The swedish/eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak has been in a Eritrean prison for 3643 days and counting. Lundin Oil also have interests in Eritrea and the Swedish department of foreign affairs does not do very much to free Dawit. "Silent diplomacy" again according to their press releases. Just a coincidence? More questions and no answers...

Read more: The Swedish journalist Kerstin Lundell received the Swedish press award "The Golden Shovel" in 2010 for her book "Affärer i blod och olja" (business in blood and oil) about Lundin Oil.

HD, ETC, SvD1, SvD2, SvD3, Fokus, DN1, DN2, DN3

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Israel, soon without friends?

The conflict between Turkey and Israel regarding the Isreali atack on the Gaza convoy last year goes on. The UN has in a report stated that it was OK to stop the convoy, but that they used too much force in their attack.

Last year’s Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla was “excessive and unreasonable” according to a U.N. panel that also blamed Turkey and flotilla organizers for contributing to the deaths of nine activists.

And it is not only the Gaza incident that is discussed between Turkey and Israel. They used to have a lot of cooperation when it comes to aircraft modifications. But this cooperation seem also to at an end.

"Israel has shown disloyalty in our bilateral agreements in the defense industry area," Erdogan told reporters, referring to a military agreement on the purchase of Israeli drones by Turkey.

"For example, unmanned aerial vehicles were purchased and they were sent back for further maintenance. They (the Israelis) are still delaying the delivery. Is this moral ?", Erdogan asked.

The result of all this is that Israel has almost lost all of their hard to find allies in he region. In Egypt the attack on the Israeli embassy was condemned by the UN, but anyway it also indicate a more harsh climate between Israel and Egypt in he future. The new government is by the people and will probably listen more closely on what the people say in order to not meet the same fate as the previous government.

But the troubles in a second diplomatic mission in a week following a fallout in relations with Turkey underscores Israel's precarious position as ties with its two key regional allies are recast.

Against the backdrop of tense relations with the White House, the shift heightens the stakes for Israel as it braces for a diplomatic onslaught at the United Nations next week. That is when Palestinians plan to mount a statehood bid, raising the possibility of an outbreak of mass protests on Israel's borders.

Some Israeli experts suggested that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who is set to visit Cairo on Monday, and Egypt's military rulers could overcome their historic rivalry and cooperate to on further isolating Israel.
"This should be very disturbing to us…there is a question about our place in the Middle East,'' said Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel's Shin Bet Intelligence Service, in an interview with Israel Radio. "The Egypt that was the bedrock on which we founded our strategy has disappeared.'

Two lost allies in one year! And the relationship with USA can also be questioned. US military is looking more and more into using Turkey as their strong haven in the Middle East. Turkey has a lot of interests in northern Iraq and when US forces leave Iraq, someone need to take more responsibility in the area. This someone might very well be Turkey. Also the situation in Syria might result in the next Libya-alike operation for USA and NATO. If so then Turkey would be the ideal base of operations.

This might explain the ongoing discussions to base US Predator UAV:s in Turkey. They will of course be used to monitor the situation in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

The US military has flown unarmed Predators from Iraqi bases since 2007, sharing their surveillance video with Turkey as part of a secretive crackdown against fighters from the Kurdistan Workers? Party (PKK), the report said.

But the counterterrorism partnership could end by December 31, when all US forces are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq.
Previously undisclosed diplomatic cables show Turkey has become highly dependent on the Predators, U-2 spy aircraft and other US intelligence sources in its military campaign against the PKK, The Post said.

Turkey need US support in the fight against PKK and to monitor the situation in Iraq and Syria. US need Turkish bases to continue with their presence in the Middle East and to make it possible to leave Iraq as Obama has promised his voters (remember the US presidential election next year). Israel might have a very strong lobbying organisation in the US Senate, but right now USA does not need Israel as much as they used to do during the Cold War when the neighboring countries were supported by the Soviet Union. If I were the Israeli leaders I would do a lot to make the relation with Turkey work again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

South African Future

In Swedish press there has been many critical articles regarding the sales of Gripen to South Africa, a nation that need all its money to develop the country. But, who are we to decide what is best for other countries?

Of course there is a need for development in South Africa. There are a lot of poor people, many of them refugees from Zimbabwe, and the criminal activity is very high. When you drive your car around the neighborhoods of Pretoria you can´t avoid to notice the palisades and the barbed wire around every house together with signs stating that intruders will be shot. But at the same time there has also been many improvements. In Soweto the government has built new houses to reduce the "Shanty Town". Unfortunately as soon as one South African moves out of his barrack to a house a family from Zimbabwe moves in.

There are still internal conflicts in South Africa even after the removal of Apartheid. The racial problems are not yet fully solved. Today the white population feels threatened by new laws. The government has introduced new guidelines for accepting students to higher educations. Each ethnical group (white, black etc.) has a number of available spots at the Universities proportional to the percentage of the population. But since white students by tradition and due to the fact that they are more often from richer families, have better grades from the basic schools, they feel cheated since students with lesser grades get accepted when they are not. The South African president Jacob Zuma has also ideas about transferring the ownership of farms from the white to the black population. But the situation in Zimbabwe may have made him change his mind about this. Many whites, also in the armed forces, are leaving South Africa since they feel they have no future in South Africa.

ANC starting with Nelson Madela has done their best to make the different ethnical groups feel like one. Football and Rugby has done a lot to achieve this goal, but there is still a long way to go.

Maybe it should be enough for South Africa to focus on the domestic problems. But, one reason to why the criminal activity is high and to why Soweto still is expanding is the refugees from Zimbabwe. Africa is a turbulent region with many border conflicts. South Africa therefore need to stabilize its borders and maybe even the surrounding countries as well as stabilize the internal conflicts.

This is also the reason to why South Africa a few years ago decided to modernize its armed forces including buying the Gripen. However, lack of money in the defence budget has resulted in that the South African Air Force has not yet reached the number of yearly flying hours and trained pilots that was planned. But maybe this will be changed with the new South African Defence Review?

South Africa is carrying out its first defence policy review in 13 years in a bid to address new security threats such as shipping piracy, the defence minister said Tuesday.
Threats like piracy and border security were not included in the last review, in 1998, and significant portions of that report were "completely outdated", she said.
South Africa's annual defence budget currently stands at 38.4 billion rand ($5.4 billion, 3.8 billion euros), and Sisulu has been vocal in calling for an increase.
"I think all of what is happening today on the continent, in the north of Africa and in the Middle East, have to be part of what we need to take notice of as far as the forecast is concerned."
The new review, which has a 6.2-million-rand budget for the year, will be presented to President Jacob Zuma's cabinet and parliament.

I believe that the Armed Forces of South Africa are very frustrated to have all this new equipment and not being able to take part in the removal of Ghadaffi in Libya or the hunt for pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The South African Air Force has a long tradition and has taken part in many wars. Their experience in electronic warfare and Infra-Red technology are world class. Since South Africa was locked out from international cooperation (with the exception of Israel and France) during the Apartheid years, they needed to develop technology of their own. Very much in the same way as Sweden during the Cold War, but for other reasons. The South African/Brazilian A-Darter IR-missile is very closely related to the Israeli Python 5 since they both share their "ancestors". Unfortunately the new focus on the bribes involved in the armor deals may change all this to the worse.

South Africa want to be a local power south of the equatorial line. The African Union - AU has sent a lot of troops to different hot zones in Africa, but historically the will to remove dictators has been since many African leaders are dictators themselves. But Ghadaffi seems to have lost all his powerful friends in Africa. His family has fled to Algeria, but are not welcome.

Maybe the conflic in Libya will result in a more active AU? If so, then South Africa will most likely take active part. Maybe the mission in Libya will not be the last for Gripen fighters?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Change of plans?

The Turkish Air Force have for long been a user of US aircraft and has been very close to NATO, since entering NATO in 1952.

But this cooperation has not been without problems. Although both Greece and Turkey are part of NATO, the relationship between them have been very tense. In 1974 the Turkish Armed Forces occupied northern Cyprus in a move to stop the Greece military junta to do the same. Cyprus was then for many years Sweden:s largest international military mission. Approximately 25.000 Swedish soldiers and police officers have taken part in the UN-led mission between 1964 and 1993. The ongoing dispute regarding the territorial borders with Greece in the Aegean Sea has not been solved. The financial problems in Greece could have to possible futures. 1 - Greece will reduce the military budget OR 2 - A new military coup could occur with support from the population that has lost trust in their government and in EU.

Turkey is also since 1984 engaged in a low-intensity war against the Kurdish guerrilla, PKK. In 2008 Turkish troops entered Iraq in a campaign to eliminate the Kurdish guerrilla camps located in the Kurd-dominated northern parts of Iraq. Most probably this move was not sanctioned by USA due to the fact that it could destabilize the Kurdish Iraq. This part of Iraq has been a close ally to USA during the Iraq war 2003 onward.

USA and NATO only tolerates the military actions in Iraq due to the importance of Turkey. Turkey is a cultural bridge between the western and the Muslim world, which is very important in the war against terror. The conflicts in northern Africa has made it even more important to have an ally in the region. Turkey also has a geographical strategic position between Europe and the Middle East. But Turkey have a carte blanche from USA/NATO in choosing their methods for how to "win" the war against PKK?

EU also put pressure on Turkey. Before Turkey become a member of EU, the border problems between Turkey and Greece as well as the Kurdish situation must be solved.

Turkey is today very dependent on buying weapons from USA and Europe to fight their war against PKK and at the same time be ready for any possible attacks from Greece (however unlikely they are).

But maybe Turkey has decided to leave the USA-only strategy when it comes to buying fighters for their Air Force? There are ongoing discussions with South Korea as well as Sweden regarding future cooperation in aircraft development.

Turkey has held separate talks with aeronautical officials from South Korea and Sweden for possible cooperation in the design, development and production of a new fighter aircraft in the next decade, a senior procurement official said.

"The companies are South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, and Sweden's Saab," the official said.

KAI is the manufacturer of several military and civilian aircraft and satellites and is planning to produce the KF-X fighter aircraft. Saab makes the multirole fighter JAS 39 Gripen.
But Turkish officials privately say they want to develop another future jet fighter with a country other than the United States to reduce Turkey's overdependence on Washington. Most of Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighters, being modernized by Lockheed Martin, and the planned future F-35s are open to U.S. technological influence. Only its older F-4 aircraft, modernized by Israel, and its oldest F-16s, being modernized by Turkey itself, are free from this influence, the officials said. But these older aircraft are expected to be decommissioned around 2020. As part of efforts to select a new fighter, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been tasked to determine the specifications of the new fighter by the end of 2012.">But Turkish officials privately say they want to develop another future jet fighter with a country other than the United States to reduce Turkey's overdependence on Washington. Most of Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighters, being modernized by Lockheed Martin, and the planned future F-35s are open to U.S. technological influence. Only its older F-4 aircraft, modernized by Israel, and its oldest F-16s, being modernized by Turkey itself, are free from this influence, the officials said. But these older aircraft are expected to be decommissioned around 2020.

As part of efforts to select a new fighter, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been tasked to determine the specifications of the new fighter by the end of 2012.

Turkey late last year held an initial round of talks with KAI on this matter, but the South Koreans offered to share only 20 percent of the project with Turkey, with another 20 percent going to Indonesia while keeping the remaining 60 percent for themselves. Turkey wants an equal share in the development and was quick to reject this offer.

For now the possible cooperation between Korea/Sweden and Turkey will not replace the F-35. But can Turkey afford operating the F-35 at the same time as anything else? Maybe Turkey have to decide between continue to buy american aircraft or have a local aircraft industry?

Turkey has for many years upgraded their aircraft with help from Israel. But after last years incident during the Israeli attack on the Gaza convoy, the diplomatic climate is sub-zero and the Turkish government most probably seek other partners. Since USA is very close to Israel, this could be another explanation to why Turkey want to be more independent from US technology.

What will the Swedish lawmakers say about exporting weapons to Turkey? Is the war against PKK sanctioned by Sweden? EU did put PKK on the terrorist list after 9-11, but what about today? In many Swedish newspapers there are articles regarding the Turkish treatment of the Kurdish people. In Sweden it is by law forbidden to export weapons to a country involved in war. But is the campaign against PKK a "war"? What will he Swedish Anti-War movement say? Any sales of Gripen to Turkey could result in protests in Sweden. These protests could be escalated due to the number of Turkish immigrants living in Sweden.

If Turkey buy the Gripen it could also result in a interesting situation with Swedish-built Saab Gripen in Turkey vs Swedish-built Saab Erieye Command & Control aircraft in Greece. In case of a future conflict between Turkey and Greece it could become a very political sensitive situation for Sweden and Saab to solve.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guerilla Tactics

The Swedish Anti-War organisation Svenska Freds (Swedish Peace) has lost a case in court against the Governmental organisation Försvarsexportmyndigheten FXM (Defence Export Agency).

In a protest against the fact that the Swedish government support export of military weapon and equipment, Svenska Freds has hijacked the Internet domain namne "". On this Internet site Svenska Freds has protested against the export of weapon and the support from FXM.

I hink that this was a brilliant move by Svenska Freds. In a very non-violent way they have made their agenda shown to the public. Thay have focused on the agency and not the people working at the agency. This in contrast to another Swedish Anti-War movement OFOG. OFOG attacked Swedish Homosexual officers attending the Stockholm Pride Festival. In this way they also attacked the individual persons and their right to attend a parade to show to the society that "gay is OK" in the Swedish Defence Forces. Last year OFOG did their best to stop a NATO exercise in northern Sweden. But they invited a russion officer to a anti-war meeting in Scotland. What is OFOG:s true agenda and where do they get their financial support? OFOG has shown that they have a very long way o go until they reach the same level of sophistication as Svenska Freds.

Unfortunately most Swedish peace organisations focus on the industry in Sweden. According to Swedish law all export of weapon are prohibited. In each case the Swedish Defence Industry must seek permission from the Swedish Governmental Agency ISP. Is it not logical that one governmental organisation Inspection for Strategic Products, ISP, do their best to limit the defence export and another, FXM, supports it? Since the export of weapon is of strategic importance to Sweden I believe that it is best done by supervision of the government. Otherwise the industry has to close down and the Swedish Defence Forces will need to import all weapons and in this way also supporting the weapon industry in countries that are not limited in the same way as the Swedish weapon industry. Guess which companies that has the biggest possibility to export to countries that will use their weapons against their own population or in aggressive attacks against their neighbors? By stopping the possibility for Swedish export the Swedish peace organisations in reality makes life easier for Defence companies in other countries. They will make money by selling weapons to both Syria AND Sweden.

The day I see OFOG or Svenska Freds in Syria protesting against the use of weapons against the civilian population they will have all my respect. Until then it is a lot of talk but no action.

Maybe Svenska Freds is even barking at the wrong tree? More worrying than the close connections between FXM and the Swedish Defence Industri is the close connections between ISP and the Defence Industry. There must always exist a balance between the controlling and the supporting agencies in Sweden.

I do not agree with Svenska Freds agenda, but I believe that they have a right to say what they believe in. However, the Swedish court does not agree with me. Svenska Freds are no longer allowed to use the domain "". But that will not stop Svenska Freds. The Internet is big and a slight change of domain name will do the trick. If you want to continue to visit Svenska Freds version of FXM, then you can go to their mirror domain "".

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where is the money?

The last few days there has been a public debate in the press regarding how the Swedish Armed Forces bought their eighteen HKP 14, Swedish designation for Eurocopter NH-90. One thing is for sure. There has been a lot of delays in the delivery of the helicopters resulting in:

- A lack of trained helicopter pilots in Sweden. During the last few years there has been many accidents involving helicopters. A lot of airmen has lost their lives. The investigations of these accidents has found two common cause. That is the lack of leadership and many organisational changes in the helicopter forces. This in combination with a lack of flying experience too often results in accidents.

- Three HKP 10 - Super Puma had to be rebuilt for MEDEVAC operations in order to support Swedish units in Afghanistan. (This business case was also not handled very well, but it is another story). The HKP 10 are today in Marmal in northern Afghanistan and will be there until 2013.

- A lack of helicopters for sea operations. Sweden no longer has any airborne anti-submarine capability. Having the submarine incidents during the 1980-90:s in fresh mind this is very serious lack of capability in the Swedish Armed Forces. The old HKP 4 - Boeing Vertol had this capability, but there were no political interests to prolong the service life of these helicopters. When Sweden sent the HMS Carlskrona to the Gulf of Aden the smaller HKP 15 - Augusta A109 had to be used. This helicopter is not designed for continuous operations at sea and afterwards it has been found out that the helicopters has been seriously damaged by corrosion from salt water. Even when the HKP 14 become operational it will take a long time before the Swedish Armed Forces has any anti-submarine capability, since this is last on the list of planned capabilities of the HKP 14.

- A lack of helicopters for training of new pilots. The Swedish Armed Forces has been forced to rent civilian helicopters and also start sending their pilots for basic training in Germany.

- A lack of helicopters for transport of troops. During the NBG 08 - Nordic Battlegroup 08 readiness period the Armed Forces had to upgrade a few of the remaining HKP 4 for this type of operations. After the readiness period, the HKP 4 were all scrapped. During the Nordic Battlegroup 11 readiness period it was planed that the HKP 15 were to be used for troop transport. But since a lot of the pilots were busy with the Gulf of Aden operations, the HKP 15 is also a bit to small for transporting troops and the HKP 10 were busy in Afghanistan, it was decided to cooperate with a Croatian helicopter unit using the Mi-17. This gave the NBG 11 MEDEVAC capability as well as troop transport capability. Even when he HKP 14 is being delivered there are big unsolved problems. The interior of the NH-90 has been found out to be very sensitive. In other countries using the NH-90, a wooden floor has been put into the troop compartment to protect the structure from heavy boots and equipment.

- Sweden has now ordered sixteen Blackhwak UH-60M with Swedish designation HKP 16 in order to have troop transport and MEDEVAC capability no matter what happens with the NH-90. These helicopters will be used in Afghanistan starting 2013. But Sweden will start to reduce the number of units in Afghanistan (starting this year?). In 2013 there will be very little use for the helicopters in Afghanistan. The first Blackhawks will be delivered in December 2011 and the pilots and technicians are undergoing their training as of now in the USA. I personally believe this will be a good solution to quickly enhance Sweden´s helicopter capability. But in the future the Swedish Armed Forces will operate three different types of helicopters (A109, NH-90 and UH-60M) instead of he planned two. This will increase the logistic and maintenance cost in the future. My recommendation is to sell the A109 when the NH-90 become operational. The UH-60M is unfortunately a bit to small to be used for anti-submarine operations. The A109 is bought to be a basic cost effective tactical trainer. But maybe buing a few extra UH-60M instead of the A109 would be the solution today when the basic training anyway is being done in Germany?

In addition to all the technical problems with the HKP 14, the Swedish Armed Forces has lost many of their trained maintenance personnel. Due to the new contract that all Swedish officers had to sign, many technicians applied for jobs at Saab AB. They are now working at Saab as part of Saab maintenance contract of the Swedish HKP 14. Some of them increased their salary with 30%.

In the Swedish press he focus is on how the helicopters was ordered. The Swedish Defence Material Administration, FMV, wanted to buy the Sikorsky S-92 since it fulfilled all requirements better than the other helicopters that were studied. But the Minister of Defence at the time, Björn von Sydow of the Social Democrat party, decided to overrule the experts and to buy the NH-90 as a joint Nordic project involving Denmark, Norway and Finland. Swedish Saab were to build the tactical planning system for the NH-90 and Finnish Patria to assemble part of the helicopters. But later on the Nordic countries went their separate ways. Denmark bought the Augusta Westland AW-101. But the Danish Air Force had a lot of problems with the first delivered helicopters and decided to postpone the project. The AW-101 were instead sold to the UK and modified to RAF Merlin standards. Today the AW-101 is in operational use in Denmark. In Finland and Norway the NH-90 is in limited operational use today. Norway and Sweden has a joint logistical program. But Sweden decided to buy a version of he NH-90 with a higher cabin. Why this was required has not been found out. It was not in the original helicopter specification, but has been modified during the time of the project. The result is that Sweden is the last of the Nordic countries to receive their helicopters.

But if the decision to over-rule the experts was bad enough there are other very serious aspects in how the business case was handled.

A Swedish Air Force colonel has been investigated for leaking information about the project to Eurocopter. The information included what the other companies offered and how FMV would perform their evaluation of the different helicopters. Eurocopter could of course have used this information to make sure that heir bid was the most favourable. The Swedish Military Intelligence, MUST, has stated that no important information was leaked and there has been no damage done. After that nothing happened with the investigation. But damage or no damage, why did the colonel leak information and what did he gain by doing so? Did the Swedish Department of Defence know about this? Was the colonel more or less ordered to leak the information in order to make sure that the Minister of Defence, Björn von Sydow, got what he wanted?

Swedish reporters very often focus their articles on other countries lack of transparency when it comes to buying military equipment. But maybe Sweden is no better then most other countries? Sweden is at least no more effective. But, has all these problems occurred due to only lack of political leadership or is there money involved? If so, who were to gain from this affair? There is a saying in cases like this, "Always follow the money".


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Erieye in combat

FAB, the Brazilian Air Force is involved in a low intensity war with drug cartels hiding in the Amazonas djungle. To be able to fight these well armed criminals the Air Force has bought Embraer A-29 "Super Tucano", a COIN - CointerInsurgency capable aircraft.

These aircraft are not only for show, they are operational. Due to the nature of these small wars, there are not many articles in the papers. But now FAB has released a video (se below) and information on a attack on a small airfield in the djungle that FAB suspected was used for smuggling.

Four Super Tucanos attacked the clandestine airstrip, near the border with Colombia, on August 10, dropping eight 230kg bombs, the defense ministry says. Cut from the jungle, the runway was detected from satellite imagery by Brazil's Sivam Amazon surveillance system.

The attacking aircraft were controlled by Embraer R-99 with the Erieye Airborne Command&Control radar. This radar is manufactured by Saab Microwave Mölndal outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. It has been sold to a number of other countries involved in small scale wars.

- Mexico. Erieye is most probably used in the same type of campaigns as in Brazil to detect smuggling across the US-Mexico border.

- Greece. Eriey is used to monitor the border with Turkey and to detect any respassing aircraft. Greeca and Turkey has for for many years been involved in dogfighs with deadly results due to the Aegean conflict.

- Pakistan. Erieye is used to monitor the Kashmir region and stop all border violations by Indian aircraft.

- Thailand. In the south of Thailand there is an ungoing conflict with the muslim minority. In the north of Thailand there is an ongoing fight against the drug smuggling in he same way as for Brazil and Mexico.

Sweden has a policy of not selling weapons to countries involved in war. But what is the definition of "war" today? The classic definition is a war between two countries, but today most wars are internal or against international terrorist organisations.

If Brazil buys the Gripen, maybe it will also be used in the war against the drug smuggling? can Sweden be against these kind of operations? Stopping the drug smuggling must be on every country agenda. But sometimes the methods are rough. In Thailand he former president Thaksin Shinawatra has been accused of murdering many innocent people in the campaign to stop drug smuggling. But in the end, Thaksin also got very good results. Maybe it is in the nature of all wars that innocent people will get killed? In Afghanistan NATO does their best to minimize civilian losses, but still there are mistakes resulting in many afghans getting killed.

The video was released, not only to show that the Brazilian government means business, but also to show USA the capability of the A-29 pending US decision to buy a new LSA - Light Support Aircraft.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Last Aircraft Built in Europe?

Today there are five major military aircraft manufacturers in Europe. Dassault with the Rafale, Eurofighter consortium (EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems) with the Eurofighter and Saab with the Gripen. One or maybe two of these will win the ongoing competitions in Brazil and India. But what about tomorrow? Who will be the survivor of the aircraft "deal of the century"? As of now there is no 5:th generation aircraft planned in Europe. USA has the F-35, Russia/India has the Sukhoi PAK-FA T-50 and China has the J-20, but there is no successor planned for the Eurofighter, Rafale or Gripen.

The lack of money in the European countries has resulted in cut down of the armed forces. The focus on international Afghanistan look-alike missions has resulted in low need for future updated aircraft. What exist today is good enough for most Air Forces. There is no high tech enemy that forces continuous development of the Air Forces. War with Russia, China or India is unlikely. But what countries will in he future but 5:th generation aircraft? What will the threat scenario look like in Africa or Asia in the future? What many politicians often forgets is hat developing a new aircraft takes many years and the next European aircraft will not be designed for the threat scenario of today, but of 2040+

There are also four ongoing major military jet-engine projects in Europe. The Eurofighter EJ200, The Rafale Snecma M88 and the Gripen RM12 (updated F404 license built engine) are built for local aircraft production.

The last engine partly built in Europe is the GE/Rolls Royce F136. It has been questioned in USA due to budget constraints in the F-35 project. But so far it is in production. USA normally want two different engines to an aircraft in order to have some backup if there are technical problems with one type. One extra consideration is of course that USA want the UK defence industry to be happy. I personally do not believe it will be technically possible to swap engines from one type to the other in an aircraft without heavy modification. Rolls Royce also produces the lift-fan for the STOVL F-35B. But since UK has dropped out of this part of the F-35 project and there are still some serious weigh problems with the F-35B, my guess is that the F-35B will be cancelled and the RR lift-fan with it. If both the F136 and he F-35B are cancelled, then Rolls Royce are out of the F-35 project.

The Eurofighter project have serious financial problems. Tranche 3B has been put on hold. The industry has stated that they will continue with he development of Tranche 3B on their own money, but I doubt that this can continue for very long. By this the Eurofighter has no air to ground capability except for the Royal Air Force Tranche 1 Block 5 - FGR4. There is however an ongoing modification of all Eurofighters. All Tranche 1 will be of Block 5 status and Tranche 2 of Block 8. This will give the Eurofighter air to ground capability. In the Libyan campaign the RAF has mainly used Tornado for air to ground missions. The Italian Air Force were initially using he Eurofighers for CAP - Combat Air Patrol to enforce the NFZ - No Fly Zone, but the Italian Eurofighers have now been withdrawn from the Libyan mission. Germany is not involved in Libya, but has not used the Eurofighters on any international missions. Spain has send F-18 to Libya, but no Eurofighters.

Even though the Eurofighter has been exported to Saudi Arabia (72) and Austria (15), these aircraft were not actually sold by the Eurofigher consortium. The Austrian aircaft were Tranche 1 aircraft from the Luftwaffe. The Saudi Arabia aircraft were Tranche 2B aircraft from the Royal Air Force. As an compensation for the Saudi Arabia deal, the RAF will order 40 Tranche 3A aircraft.

One big problem for Eurofighter is that there are a number of countries involved, which makes it very hard to develop the aircraft.

Read more here about the different Eurofighter Tranche and Blocks.

Dassault has yet to find an export customer for the Rafale. In the Indian MMRCA competition, Dassault is together with Eurofighter the last teams left in the competition. In he next phase the Indians will focus on economy and on technology transfer. Even though the Rafale has shown very good results in the Liban campaign compared to the Eurofighter, this should not be used as an decisive factor in the next part of the evaluation.

In the Brazilian evaluation it looked like Sarkozy had a signed contract with former president Lula. But then this evaluation was put on hold, due to bad economy. It will start again next year. The US have stated that they will offer the F-35 together with F-18E/F. Russia will offer the Su-35 and maybe also the PAK-FA T-50. I seriously doubt that the Brazilian economy can handle the F-35 or the PAK-FA, but who knows in these days? Maybe Embraer will get an offer they can not refuse?

In the UAE competition it was earlier stated hat UAE had decided for he F-18E/F, but now Rafale seem to be back in business again.

Even though there has yet been no international business for Rafale, it looks very likely that they will sell some aircraft very soon.

Dassault has very good backup from the French government. In the Brazilian competition there has been rumors that France will support a Brazilian dream of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Even if there will be no Rafale sold on the international market I believe hat the french pride will make it possible for Dassault to continue to build military aircraft in the future. The French government also has a very good reputation of exporting weapon to any who needs it. Unlike the UK, the french will not buy american fighter aircraft in the first place. But the french economy is like the rest of Europe bleeding. Anything can happen.

Saab is as of now under delivery of the last Gripen C/D aircraft to South Africa (26 ordered, xx delivered), Thailand (12 ordered, 6 delivered) and update of A/B to C/D aircraft to Sweden (31 ordered, xx delivered). Depending on the yearly production rate this indicate that after approximately 2014 there will be no aircraft built in Linköping unless a new order arrives.

As part of the campaign to sell aircraft to Norway, Saab presented the Gripen NG. This is an update of the existing Gripen C/D with new engine (F414), new avionics, AESA radar, bigger fuselage to allow more internal fuel and two additional weapon pylons under he main fuselage. The Gripen Demo has flown for a number of years with the new engine and has recently been upgraded with hew avionics and AESA radar. But so far no custsomer has bought the aircraft. India has cut Gripen from their competition, Brazil has delayed their campaign with at least one year and the Swedish armed forces has delayed their decision to upgrade the existing Gripen C/D fleet with Gripen E/F based upon the Gripen NG to 2012.

Since the Swedish Air Force and the Swedish politicians has stated that Sweden will operate Gripen to 2040 there is a need to keep the workers at Saab occupied. Otherwise Saab will not have the knowledge and personell to continue to support the Gripen C/D. Most probably this will result in that the Swedish Air Force will 2012 order a slow but continuous update of their existing Gripen C/D to E/F standard.

One reason for the delay with ordering the Gripen NG is that Volvo is lobbying for an updated RM12+ (F404) instead of the F414 engine. This has resulted in that the Swedish politicians want to study what can be done by updating the existing C/D aircraft to C/D+ instead of E/F. In practicality this will result in keeping the existing airframe and updating the avionics. It is unclear if the C/D can carry an AESA radar since this radar requires a larger nose section, more power and cooling.

The new CEO of Saab has however made two major errors during the last six months:

- He has acknowledged that there has been illegal money transacted during the sales of Gripen to South Africa, but he has put all the blame on then-partner BAE. This will result in three problems for Saab. 1 - South Africa has a need to show their voters hat they take this type of accusations very seriously. In the worst case scenario, the deal could be off. In he best case scenario Saab will have very frosty discussions with the South African poiliticians when it comes to future upgrades and continuous operations with Gripen. Since the South African economy is very bad, there is a need for South Africa to decrease the payments to Saab. 2 - Future customers of Gripen might be afraid that their business will be exposed since Saab did not keep their business secrets for themselves. 3 - Future cooperations with other European aircraft manufacturers will be affected. Who wants to work with a partner who sells you out when hings go sour? At this time when there is a need for European cooperation it could be disastrous for Saabs future. The bribes in themselves are not the big problem in this case. In the weapon industry bribes are common. E.g. BAE are accused of bribing Saudi Arabia during the sales of Eurofighter and EADS are accused for bribing South Africa during the sales of A-400M.

- He has ordered a new design bureau to be started in London. The aim of this bureau is to design a carrier version of Gripen, the "Sea Gripen". This is probably a result of the lost deal in India. The Indian deal said nothing about carrier capability, but India has carriers and in the future it migh be the case that they want a replacement for the existing Mig-29. Rafale has already a carrier version and Eurofigher has started up design works for a carrier version. (Maybe the Eurofigher will also be used on the new Queen Elisabeth carrier since it has been redesigned to be used with F-35C instead of F-35B?). In the case of the Gripen I think this will just be wasted money. To qualify an aircraft for carrier operations means more than just a tail-hook and stronger under-carriage.

What should Saab do?

The Gripen has one very big advantage considering the bad economy in the world. It is cheaper to buy and much cheaper to operate compared to the competitors. But in he same way as for Rafale, Eurofighter and F-35 there has been a gradual change in requirements from a lightweight fighter to a multi-role fighter capable of everything. Instead of trying to compete with the others, which will probably result in a better but also more expensive version of the Gripen, do the other way around. Make it cheaper! Be the F-5/F-16 of the 21:st century instead of the F-35. Focus on what Saab always has done well and that is indigenous solutions. I would for example want to see close integration of he Gripen with UAV. Use UAV as remote sensors for the Gripen. What about a clustered radar or electronic warfare system using a number of small UAV? Send in a UAV to identify argets at long distance and then fire precision weapons lead by the UAV. Use he backseat of a Gripen D to control the UAV. Saab has in their business portfolio the Skeldar UAV which is a very good solution for future CAS operations. Use the Skeldar as a tool for the FAC to lead attacks with the Gripen.

Saabs weakness is the lack of support from the Swedish government. The buzzword when it comes to military equipment is to buy COTS from the international market to reduce the cost. Local development should be avoided unless there are no other alternatives. The Swedish press is also very negative to weapon manufacturing in Sweden, which of course affects the political will. In Sweden export of military equipment is by law forbidden. Each business case has to be approved by the Swedish government export control office. This might stop some customers since they fear the Swedish politicians will stop supporting the Gripen if they are used in a conflict that Sweden does not agree with. During the international sales of the Gripen there has for many years been very low involvement by the politicians. But lately in the Brazilian campaign the interest has increased. Maybe the Swedish politicians has understood the need for political backup. Unless Saab finds some more international sales, the Swedish Air Force has to finance all future development of the Gripen by themselves.

The future
EDA - European Defence Agency has started FAS4Europe, a study to list key aircraft technology companies in Europe 3035+.

The objective of the study is to identify the key industrial capabilities together with a proposed implementation plan.

Most European countries of course want that their local aircraft manufacturer will be among the selected ones 2035+. The tricky part of assembling the list of possible manufacturers in 2035 is to decide who will not be on the list any more.

Is there a European budget big enough to continue with five major (and a number of smaller) aircraft manufacturers in he future? I believe not. But it will be a big fight to see which country that stop supporting their local aircraft manufacturer first. Probably the next European joint project will be a UAV. The Neuron project is a starting point. BAE (Taranis), EADS (Talarion), Saab (Skeldar) all have their own UAV projects ongoing, but in order to prepare the way for a future aircraft I believe the best way to start is with the UAV.

However Europe has already started to use American UAV system. Sweden just bought the Shadow 200, Germany the Euro Hawk (a European version of the US Global Hawk) and Raptor and UK and Italy bought the Reaper. The competition in the UAV market is tough. And there are a lot of smaller industries that do not build aircraft that see business opportunities. A big drawback for the aircraft manufacturers is that they are mostly to expensive to buy from.

The next step is to arrange with a consortium as for the Eurofighter, including Saab and Dassault. It is not an easy solution. The Tornado and the Eurofighter projects have not always been smooth rides. The local industries will manufacture their own specialties to all buyers and the also do final assembly of whatever number of aircraft each country order.

The alternative is of course to buy a American, Russian or Chinese aircraft and then let the local industries deliver parts of the aircraft and do final assembly. Much in the same way as for the F-16/F-18 today. The F-35 will have major parts built in UK, but all final assembly will be done in the US.

Lockheed Martin is the F-35 prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are principal partners in the project.

Final assembly of the F-35 takes place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas. Northrop Grumman Corporation in Palmdale and El Segundo, California will manufacture the center-fuselage, and the aft fuselage and tails will be manufactured by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, England. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth will manufacture the forward fuselage and wings.

What is best for the European aircraft manufacturers. To build parts of many aircraft or the whole of just a few?

There are many questions. But one thing is clear. If the European defence industries does not cooperate very soon, there will be very little left of them in 2035+.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Canada and Denmark at War!

What!? Two of the worlds most peace-loving countries fighting. Can this be true? Well, in a few years this might very well happen. A Falkland War look alike scenario is at this very moment developing.

What is the cause of the hurt feelings between these countries?

The US Geological Survey estimate that the Arctic region can have up to 22% of the worlds total oil and gas resources. So far these resources has been out of reach due to the harsh environment. But according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climat Changes the Global Warming will affect the Artcic region resulting in less ice. This will change the geopolitical strategic value of the Arctic region. The surrounding countries (Canada, USA, Russia, Iceland, Denmark and Norway) of course want to have their share of the money.

Less ice will also change the possible transit routes between Europe, USA and Asia. The Norteast and the Northwest passage will be possible to use. Ships will no longer need to use the southern routes through the Panama canal, the Suez canal or south of he Cape of Good hope. Russian ships have already started to use the Norteast passage, but will other countries be allowed to pass free of charge? In Canada there has been proposals to change the name of the Northwest passage to the Canadian Nortwest passage to indicate who owns this transit line.

There has already been many incidents in this region between fishermen from mainly the UK and Iceland. In the 1970:s there was the famous Cod Wars and today they are fighting about Mackerel. If fish can result in fighting between civilized countries, what then can oil and gas?

But what about the conflict between Denmark and Canada?

The Northern Research Forum has issued a report analyzing the countries that have legal claims in the Arctic region.

The priority areas of Canada’s Northern Strategy are: 1) Exercising our Arctic sovereignty; 2) Promoting social and economic development; 3) Protecting the North’s environmental heritage; and 4) Improving and devolving northern governance (Government of Canada 2009 and 2010).

The joint draft strategy of Denmark and Greenland “contains a series of objectives, which is twofold: 1) Supporting and strengthening Greenland's development towards increased autonomy; and 2) Maintaining the Commonwealth's position as a major player in the Arctic” (Namminersornerullutik Oqartussat, Udenrigsministeriet, 2008)

Denmark is a small country in the Scandinavian region. But what many people forget is that Denmark has large territories (Greenland and the Faroe Islands) in the Arctic region.

In order to protect the Danish interests in the Arctic region, Denmark has military presence on Greenland. All units are led by the Island Command Greenland.

The Thule Airbase was for many years used by US fighters and bombers during he cold war as an forward operating base in the defence against the Soviet Union. This since the shortest route between these countries was crossing the North Pole. The airbase is still used today, but the nuclear bombers are no more.

The Royal Danish Navy has a number of ocean going vessels to patrol the Arctic region. Most interesting is the three Iver Huitfeldt class corvettes. Together with the two Absalon command and support ships and ice hardened patrol ships of Knud Rasmussen class, Denmark has a very good capability to operate in the Arctic region all around the year in all weather conditions.

The Danish army has the Sirius Sledge Patrol (Slædepatruljen Sirius) a dog sledge unit that patrols the border of Greenland. This unit is considered to be one of the best trained special forces units in the world.

The piece of land that Denmark and Canada is arguing about is the small "Hans Ö" island located in the Nares Strait between Danish Greenland and Canadian Ellesmere Island.

Visa större karta

This island is small and seemingly worthless, but the owner of the island also controls the Nares Strait and the shortest route between the Atlantic and the Pacific that is not part of Canadian territory. All other routes through the Northwest passage go well inside the Canadian territories.

The island was discovered by Hans Hendrikssen (a danish native from Greenland) that took part in the american polar expedition of 1871-73 led by Charles Francis Halls.

In 1984 the danish minister of Greenland, Tom Höyem, flew with a helicopter to Hans Ö and raised the Danish flag. He also put up a sign "Welcome to the danish island". In 1988 the danish patrol ship HMDS Tulugaq visited the island and raised a new flag, In 1995 soldiers from Thule flew to the island and raised another flag.

June 13, 2005 Canadian soldiers raised the Canadian flag and built a inushuk. A week later the Canadian minister of defence, Stephen Harper, visited the island. Stephen Harper has stated that if needed Canada will patrol the area with armed ice breakers to protect "their territorial integrity". He has repeated his message after becoming Prime Minister.

"With immense natural wealth and the growing potential for new global trade routes, the strategic importance of Canada's Arctic is heightened as never before," Harper told reporters and military personnel aboard the frigate.

Harper repeated his oft-quoted line about Arctic sovereignty — "use it or lose it" — saying a national government's foremost responsibility is to protect the integrity of its country's borders.

The Canadian navy is however not very impressed by the idea, since here is a lack of budget and he ships in themselves are not of much use for the navy.

The Tories initially started out in 2006 insisting that three heavily armed icebreakers be constructed, but the estimated cost of $1 billion per ship and the fact they could be used only in the Arctic forced a retreat.

They eventually settled on a proposal for six to eight patrol ships capable of operating in first-year ice. That was quietly changed last year to six ships, according to documents and interviews with officials.

I don´t believe it will go as far as a full scale war between Canada and Denmark. But the Falklands War clearly shows that interest in regions of strategic value and where there might be oil or gas can lead to war. There is however a clear risk of a low level conflict with incidents involving Canadian and Danish patrol ships in the area, much like during the Cod War of the 1970:s. I don´t think it will go as far as the conflict between Greece and Turkey about the small islands in the Aegean Sea.

Read the Canadian American Strategic Review Part 1 and Part 2.

The strategic importance of he Arctic region will of course affect even Sweden. Sweden has for long had interests in this area with a lot of polar expeditions. Most famous is maybe the fatal André polar expedition of 1897, but for many years Swedish ice breakers has been used to explore the North Pole. Sweden has also signed a one-sided declaration of solidarity stating that Sweden will support he other Nordic countries if needed. There has been discussions with Iceland and Norway to perform air defence missions over the North Sea. Swedish fighter squadrons regularly perform air combat exercises cross the Norwegian and Finnish border and Swedish troops yearly train in Norway during exercises such as "Cold Challenge", "Cold Response" and "Joint Winter".

Read this FOI report about oil and gas in the Arctic region (in Swedish, but English summary) and listen to this "Vetandets Värld" radio documentary about the Northwest passage (in Swedish).