11/30/2011 – The news broke today : The Swiss Air Force is to acquire 22 Sweedish SAAB GRIPEN fighter aircraft. The Swiss government had warned that they were compelled to squeeze their budget for this $3.36 billion bid as they could not afford to purchase the 33 fighter aircraft planned for the replacement of their F-5 Tiger fleet.
In spite of its outstanding performance during the tests as well as over the battlefields in Afghanistan, and in Libya, the Dassault Rafale was not chosen. Moreover, like the EADS Eurofighter/Typhoon, it was deemed too expensive for Switzerland could not buy as many aircraft within the budget allocated.
The Gripen is a good option for Switzerland since it is the cheapest one. The version to be delivered – JAS 39E/F or Gripen Demo/NG – is believed to be an excellent one – IRST (InfraRed Search and Track); ES-05 Raven AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar & SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar); Electronic Warfare (EW) systems; Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD)…
However, this new-generation Gripen NG is a single engine fighter aircraft. It was tactically outperformed by its opponents, and last but not least, it has not yet been produced. As a matter of fact, the Swiss should be involved in the R&D works.
RAPID 3D MAPPING is a superior awareness system able to generate three dimensional maps. It processes pictures shot by digital and thermal sensors added to live georeferenced data onboard aircraft; drones; and helicopters.
It was chosen by the SDMA – Swedish Defence Materiel Administration – in order to provide 3D imagery to Gripen simulators last year.
The images can be compared several hours apart to establish whether threats can be considered in the latest analysis. As you can see in this video, the result looks quite accurate and useful for network centric warfare (NCW) purposes:
The Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) should be a European fighter jet. India shortlisted the Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Rafale for a $12 billion fighter jet deal. 126 fighter aircraft are to be ordered! As controversial rumours have spread for months through the Internet and the Indian channels, nobody could be certain of the sort of decision that could be made. For instance, remember this idea of purchasing two different combat aircraft that was issued a few months ago. Then, the news came right out of the blue yesterday April 28, 2011. Indeed the American, Russian, and Swedish jetfighters have been discarded.
According to the video hereafter,
The high-flying American campaign to win the $10 billion multirole combat aircraft tender has crashed.
The Indian Defence Ministry confirmed that the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the latest F-16IN were out of the race. Neither of these U.S. fighters would have met the Indian Air Force’s technical requirements during the trials that were also submitted to the JAS-39 Gripen; the MiG-35; the Rafale; and the Typhoon.
One may wonder why the Gripen was not selected in this competition. Well, this excellent aircraft is not equipped with any arrestor hook, and that is probably why it has not been kept in the race for this tender.
It is important to notice that the Rafale purchase is a rather expensive option. However, it should also be noted that, in spite of the modest political clout of France in India, as well as its price tag – $90 million – the Dassault Rafale remains in the final competition. A transfer-of-technology amendment might be added to the contract.
As the Super Hornet and the Super Viper have been rejected, this is a deep disapointment for Lockheed Martin; McDonnell Douglas; Boeing; General Dynamics; as well as a real watershed in the geopolitical approach in Asia.
As far as the Swiss Air Force is concerned, there has been two options so far – the choice of new fighter aircraft or postponement thereof, the second alternative has been chosen. You will find hereafter the Avianews webmaster’s analysis:
This is the Swiss Federal Council Message:
« However, given the current state of federal finances and priorities taken as a whole, the time of acquisition is postponed to no later than 2015. The Federal Council decided on the proposal of DDPS (Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports) to postpone the replacement of 54 obsolete combat aircraft F-5 Tiger Air Force. The Head of the DDPS, Ueli Maurer held a news conference on the postponement which is expected to last at most until 2015. The Federal Department of Finance and the DDPS together confirm by the end of 2011 the conditions for an acquisition during the second half of the decade. »
The reasons for non selection:
First, this is an organizational problem from the financial organization of Armée XXI. Remember, the people had voted for the new military organization with a comfortable 70% « yes »! id est a military downsized with a budget of only 4.3 billion Swiss Francs now. However, the parliament has never put forward this budget that painfully reaches 3.6 billion. The Swiss People is reportedly disappointed by such loss of income, and deception as well.
No F-5 replacement:
Replacing the F-5 is out of the question anymore but to get prepared for the next generation of F/A-18 from 2025. Consequently, there is more urgency to acquire a large number of aircraft as a whole block but split into several ones.
The losers in this case are the Swiss industry and jobs. Indeed, if the cost of a fighter plane is expensive, the returns on partnerships to « Offsets » were significantly higher and would have revitalized both the Swiss manufacturing industry and employment.
The three companies will meet in a few years for a new offer and therefore cannot comment on this « no choice »!
Dassault must be disappointed for they would certainly have won the contract with his Rafale. The version of the Rafale-04T was proposed with more powerful engines, the wiring for the METEOR missile, the new targeting pod Damocles XF and the brand new IDM (Improved Data Modem).
It bodes well for Saab because they now may complete the Swedish version of the Gripen E / F (NG), whose development is not completed yet and find a buyer with the Swedish Air Force (SwAF). Indeed, it must order the Gripen E / F by 2015.
EADS Eurofighter will be able to finalize its AESA E-scan radar and they are likely to reduce maintenance costs of the aircraft as promised this summer to the Switzerland Economy Minister Doris Leuthard at the ILA Berlin Airshow.