Friday, February 17, 2012

The gloves are off

I recently commented the hot competition between European military aircraft manufactures Dassaul, Eurofighter consortium and Saab. But now it has got beyond hot. The gloves are off and all methods are allowed!

In Swizz papers for the last week and now even in Swedish papers a classified report is circulating. To sum it up it says that Gripen ended up dead last in the Swizz evaluation compared to the Rafale, the Eurofighter and even the existing F 18.

First of all one can ask, who has leaked this report? Obviously there are two (three) candidates:

- A Swizz air force employee, that are not happy with the selection. The Swizz air force have for many years been very close to France. Major parts of Switzerland has natural close cooperation with France. One should not forget that about 20% of Switzerlands population are french speaking.

- Dassault, that want to spread as much negative press as possible on their competitors. Rumors are that French security organizations are supporting Dassault. There are indications that the air port police in Geneva have orders to search through Saab employees computers. It so happens that parts of the air port police and customs personnel in Geneva are French! This also goes for Basel where the airport partly is located in France. It wouldn´t be very surprising if these methods are used. They have so before. Remember Rainbow Warrior in 1985.

- Of course it could also be a tactical leak by the Swizz government to be able to negotiate an even better deal. It has according to rumors already worked on Dassault.

There are however many facts that the Swizz or Swedish papers do not grasp.

Many Swizz pilots are happy with the selection. The Gripen is affordable (both in buying and operating), easy to maintain and has a very quick turn around. This will give a high sortie per day capability (note the quote is run through Google translate).

- Can you stand as an expert in the Air Force after the final round for the Gripen, Type E/F?

- Yes, 100 percent. It meet all three tested types identified by the military requirements of Switzerland. It depends on what you need and how much you are willing to pay. There are Ferraris, who can not drive off-road, and trucks that are just too slow. The Audi quattro is fast and affordable. And in this case even more money for the army, which indeed still waiting on new purchases. The Gripen can be for the air policing and air defense used in all weather conditions. He can fight ground targets and be used as a scout. The Gripen C / D is robust, is for relatively low operating costs and has proven itself in the Swedish Air Force and the best international standards.
- Can you understand that there is now a media circus is coming?

- Partly. There are some who doubt whether everything is up politically and technically correct. Since I can only say that I am fully committed, even though I am no longer responsible. I put my hand into the fire, that's what I'm headed and what we did, was made possible. The three candidate countries have confirmed that we have the most challenging but also a fair evaluation conducted. The more it is now a mess, that recently reached an interim report to the public. This interim report is taken out of context and does not show the context of the overall evaluation. Finally, we were obliged to discretion. As someone has acted criminally. The report is subject to military Vertaulichkeit.

The evaluation in 2008 was done with the C/D version of Gripen. The E/F version of Gripen has a 30% more powerful F414 engine, more fuel capacity, more stores to carry external load, updated avionics, updated electronic warning system etc.

The Swizz air force has not officially decided which version they are going to buy, but there are a number of options.

- Buy Gripen E/F. This version is not yet finalized. The test aircraft "Gripen Demo" has been flying for a number of years and was also sent to India during their evaluation. Compared to Rafale, Eurofighter or F 18E/F the Swizz air force will have much more impact on the design on the Gripen E/F. This due to the fact that they together with the Swedish Air Force will be the first customers. Most likely there will be a lot of cooperation between Switzerland and Sweden in the development. The Swedish Air Force is also looking for a new trainer aircraft and Pilatus PC-21 is a likely candidate.

- Buy Gripen C/D and then upgrade to E/F. This is exactly what the Swedish Air Force has done. Their first Gripen A/B are now being converted to C/D standard and if there is a new international customer on the E/F version the Swedish Government has already decided to upgrade at least 10 Gripen C/D to E/F standard. Most likely there will be more aircraft upgraded in the future since Gripen C/D today is planned to be used until 2040.

- If the financial budget is not big enough there is an option to buy a slightly upgraded version of the Gripen C/D. Note that if the Swizz Air Force cannot afford to buy the Gripen they will not be able to buy the Rafale. Even though Dassault has offered the Rafale at a prize well below what it will cost them to produce the aircraft it will in the end be more costly. Nothing is free and a aircraft with two engines are always at least twice as expensive to operate than an aircraft with only one engine.

When evaluating aircraft and only taking into consideration thrust-to-weight ratio and maximum speed a two engine aircraft will in most cases win over a single engine aircraft. If one should ask the basic squadron pilot he will of course want the most powerful aircraft that is available. In this case, why not the F 22? What one should ask is what can the Swizz air force afford?

The Rafale and Eurofighter won (in the 2008 evaluation) against Gripen C/D when comparing climb performance and maximum speed. At first this would indicate that they are more optimal for defending Swizz airspace, since they would react quicker and reach a target at high altitude in shorter time. But even if an aircraft is on high alert it is not only climb performance and speed that is the factor. Quick power up and short turnarounds are also very important. As I have described earlier the Gripen is designed to be handled by conscripts (very much as i Switzerland), to start on road bases (very much as in Switzerland) and has a turnaround time (time between landing and taking off again at around 10-15 minutes with a minimum of support personnel.

The Swizz minister of defence is publicly stating that Gripen is the optimal choice for the Swizz Air Force. He has earlier stated that Gripen fulfill all requirements (maybe not being the best) and this to a prize well below the French bid. Most likely the industrial cooperation was also part of the evaluation and to Gripens advantage. The Swedish minister of Defence Mr Tolgfors is supporting Saab in this business case since it will be of great importance to the Swedish Air Force. The rumors in the press has lead to two official statements saying that Switzerland is still going for Gripen (here and here).

Well, the fight is on. Unfortunately the Swedish press is (willingly or not) part of the propaganda organization that is controlled by Dassault.

Read the press release from the Swizz Minister of Defence. Read also a report from the press conference with the Swizz Minister of Defence.

DI, Defence Talk


  1. Dear Sir, strongly suggest a spell and syntax check.
    Kind regards,
    Eric A.

  2. Dear Erik. I do use a spell and syntax check. But I use US English instead of the more (in Sweden) commonly used UK English.

    There is a part, which is a quote from a German article, that is heavily misspelled. This is due to the fact that i put it through Google translate (my German is worse than my English). I have added a note stating this for everyone to understand.

    One interesting thing, that I have noted, is that many more Swedish readers are upset with the spelling than foreign ones. I am deeply sorry for my lack of language skills, but I had hoped for a debate on the contents of the articles, not the spelling. But maybe I am wrong about this?

  3. The language skills, or lack thereof, detract from the message you're trying to get across, hence the minimal debate IMO. Unfortunately, more often than not, style and form wins over function or content.

    The fact that you receive comments mainly from Swedish readers suggests that you have mainly Swedish readers.

    Your effort is commendable and important, so please regard my comment as a very minor one.
    Kind regards,
    Eric A.

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