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.
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.
(Article adapted from AVIANEWS) According to Pascal – you can read herein French – the Rafale has numerous assets, and might become the winner in the NAC competition to replace the F-5 fleet, id est: Switzerland might buy Dassault’s fighters.
The industrial consortium Rafale International – Dassault Aviation, Snecma (Safran Group), and Thales – MBDA, and their subcontractors are able to offer Switzerland an industrial and scientific cooperation for the benefit of the townships . This offer concerns the whole range of suppliers ie: the military, but also the civilian sector which includes programs for Falcon business jets, the civilian CFM56 engines, and Aircraft and helicopters avionics.
Some elements of the Rafale have already been produced in Switzerland – cockpit, fuel tank and more recently additional elements of the Thales radar RBE2.
The offer includes the outsourcing of many structural components, final assembly andmaintenance in Switzerland for all of the Rafale program, and research and development. The manufacture of weapons (MICA missiles) is also proposed and the development of helmet-mounted sight GERFAUT are also concerned, as well as systems such as the system of self-protection SPECTRA and OSF (Front Sector Optronic).
France would have confirmed the Swiss access to all technologies used in the aircraft including development tools, source codes, and to the most sensitive data.
Optimized for Switzerland:
According to Dassault, the Rafale would suit Switzerland, because as a neighbor, the military and industrial collaboration can be eased considerably. Moreover, the latest block (F3+) which was tested in Switzerland responded to 95% in specifications and offers the following possibilities:
flight capability in supercruise mode .
Short take-off distance.
Range and flight capacity extended, enabling long surveillance missions.
Swiss militia could carry out fast preflight checks.
Ease of integration into the structures already built.
Multisensor system proposed:
The proposed version of the Rafale in Switzerland is the most recent available, that is to say the block F3+ (sometimes identified F4). This version is not in service yet. However, 60 Rafales of this kind were ordered by the French Air Force and Navy in late December 2009. The F3+ features:
Thales AESA Radar RBE-2AA .
SPECTRA self-protection system.
New-generation OSF (Optronic Front Sector).
Latest data link 16 (Link16 – MIDS).
NCW (Net Centric Warfare) data fusion system.
In terms of propulsion, it is not excluded that a more powerful version of the SNECMA M-88 jet engine might be available
(to be confirmed).
Military training cooperation:
Switzerland is already training with the French Air Force (air-to-air refueling, and EPERVIER exercise). In case of Rafale acquisition, pilots would also have flight simulators at their disposal as well as several training sectors in France. De plus, la base aérienne 113 de Saint-Dizier serait ouverte pour nos pilotes. Moreover, the air base 113 at Saint-Dizier – already equipped with Rafale facilities – would welcome the Swiss pilots.
Although not a favorite in early trials, the F3 + version has demonstrated its excellent capabilities and respond in exemplary fashion to the specifications. In addition, Dassault personnel were able to conduct a remarkable campaign thanks to both technical and interpersonal skills. The Rafale now has many assets that could very well do to win the Helvetian market!