Cruise Missiles Flying over your Head

As I was quite vocal in questioning the decision of Saab to opt for the Taurus KEPD 350 as their heavy cruise missile, I was not overly surprised when Saab contacted me and asked if I wanted to discuss the choice as well as their bid more generally. It turned into a rather interesting brief, with representatives from both Saab and TAURUS Systems GmbH (owned to 67% by MBDA Deutschland GmbH and 33% by Saab Dynamics AB).

Saab further discussed the extent to which Finnish-Swedish cooperation and possible synergies play into the bid. Saab has not only run all company simulations of scenarios based on the FDF requirements to find the best setup for Finland, but in a step further they have also run the same simulations with Finland and Sweden being allied to see how this setup would work if Finland wouldn’t have to go at it alone. The BAFO includes not only Saab’s offer, but also drafts for a number of political agreements for closer defence cooperation, such as for a shared situational air picture benefiting from both countries operating not only the same aircraft types, but similar versions of these aircraft. With the Finnish requirement to align the configuration of the eventual HX-winner with the main user, this include not only the earlier announced Swedish political decision to align their 39E configurations with the Finnish requests (including long-range precision strike and “enhanced electronic attack capability”), but also operating similar GlobalEye-configurations. In a change compared to earlier announcements, Bombardier keeping the Global 6000 in production allow Saab to use the same platform for both Finland and Sweden as is currently in service with the UAE. This opportunity saves quite a bit of certification and R&D costs compared to the earlier indicated change to Global 6500 as the basic platform for the GlobalEye, which frankly wouldn’t give too much of an improvement. An improved wing and new Rolls-Royce BR710 Pearl gives better hot and high performance as well as better range and endurance for the newer Global 6500, but for a Finnish scenario the Global 6000 should provide plenty enough of performance and the up-front savings can be better spent elsewhere.

Saab is very much in agreement with Lockheed Martin that having a single-configuration fighter fleet is preferable due to the flexibility it offers when it comes to for example fleet management and readiness. The required capability to be able to pull it off is in Saab’s case based on the brand new integral electronic warfare system – which carries on the tradition of the highly respected JAS 39C/D EW-system – as well as the EAJP offering the wider frequencies and high output power needed to counter not only fire control radars but also other parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum. This goes hand in hand with Saab’s (and Sweden’s) long history of advanced datalinks, which means that Swedish fast jet tactics place a very high emphasis on the four-ship formation as a tactical unit as opposed to the traditional focus on the lead-wingman pair, and allowing e.g. for passive triangulation (another area where Saab and Lockheed Martin is in agreement is that this is a very cool and useful feature).

But none if this is really earth-shattering news. What about that cruise missile?

A Taurus KEPD 350 impacting a concrete target. Picture courtesy of Taurus Systems

The reason behind the Taurus KEPD 350 losing out to AGM-158A JASSM for integration on the Finnish Hornet-fleet was discussed, and Saab responded in rather general terms.

Many factors were behind the original JASSM choice, how flexible were the US authorities in allowing integration of Taurus on Hornet? I don’t know.

Having said that, Saab wasn’t interested in commenting on how flexible the US might be in integrating JASSM on the 39E Gripen. They did however (correctly) point out that the Finnish JASSM inventory is set for either retirement or a mid-life update by the time the Hornets retire, and that technically there are no issues with integrating the weapon.

Still, there’s no tears shed by Saab over the (forced?) choice of Taurus KEPD 350, as they are quick to point out that the weapon is extremely potent, and offering a rather different design philosophy compared to the US offering. Interestingly many of the design choices actually do mirror the design choices of the Gripen-platform itself, lending some credibility to Saab’s argument that it is the superior weapon for a Gripen-fleet in Finnish service.

The basic idea is that radars evolve, and as such the value of stealth will diminish over time. Physics, however, remain surprisingly constant, and as such flying at very low level under the radar horizon is bound to work equally well in 2060 as it does today. This is then coupled with a highly redundant navigation system based on INS, GPS, a radar altimeter, and an IIR-sensor that together open up for image- and terrain-based navigation. This is couple with an advanced mission planning software to ensure that the weapon will get where it needs to be, which take into consideration the overall situation including threats, terrain, friendly forces, and weather.

The mission planning is actually a really interesting feature, as not only is it reportedly very precise (a requirement for being able to fly at extremely low altitude), but by simulating the entire strike it is able to run detailed Monte Carlo-simulations which take into account for example changes in the weather conditions or how the situation for the later missiles released changes with earlier missiles in the strike hitting their targets. The idea is to ensure economy in weapons use, and avoid wasting missiles in saturation attacks. This is a common theme for the marketing of the weapon, promising “low acquisition costs combined with low run-time costs”.

At the heart of this capability is the 480 kg warhead that sport a dual-charge layout with a pre-charge and a penetrator, resulting in what Taurus claim is “unmatched concrete penetration capability” and crucially allows the missile to stay low and attack also hardened targets at shallow dive angles instead of the more classic pop-up profile. But while the bunker-busting features is what the warhead is best known for, specialised fuzes allow additional flexibility such as overflight airburst modes. And again, flexibility further adds to the cost-efficiency.

In short Taurus claims that several factors add up to ensure that more enemy stuff will go boom for the same amount of money compared to JASSM (and yes, continuing the trend after the BAFOs both Taurus and Saab are naming their competitors as opposed to talking about hypothetical comparable systems). In addition, the weapon reportedly outranges the current AGM-158A JASSM in having approximately 600 km range if released at altitude (usual caveats apply).

Interlude: The saga of the JASSM-ER continues

Back in February it seemed the JASSM-version offered to Finland was the weapon originally designated AGM-158D JASSM-XR. However, turns out there’s another twist in USAF weapons procurement that came to light a while ago, as there are in fact a number of different JASSM-ER and -XR versions. The ‘original’ JASSM-XR apparently is still in development though it is now designated AGM-158D JASSM-ER, but it is pushed back as a version of the -ER designated the AGM-158B-2 is entering production. This weapon which is offered to Finland feature the more advanced datalink of the -XR but lack the improved wing (and hence not reaching the same range). At the same time, the US Navy scrapped the JSOW-ER and is focusing on an JASSM-ER version that will feature some components of the AGM-158C LRASM allowing it to also be used as an anti-ship missile, meaning that in total there seems to be at least six different versions of the JASSM either having reached production status or in different stages of development, four of which are designated JASSM-ER (AGM-158B, AGM-158B-2, AGM-158 ‘Navy-version’, and AGM-158D, with the other two being the AGM-158A and the anti-shipping AGM-158C LRASM). Range numbers of the AGM-158B-2 are somewhat obscure, but likely close to the original AGM-158B at around 930 km.

In any case, both the AGM-158B and Taurus KEPD 350 would offer significant increases to the ranges of Finnish air-launched weapons, and while cutting the Jaroslavl-Vologda railroad might be easier with the AGM-158D, a conflict would see no shortage of potential targets within 500 km of the border.

Render of Taurus KEPD 350 showing what is by now a the standard layout of weapons in its class with a boxy fuselage, pop-out wings and rear-mounted fins and engine. Picture courtesy of Taurus Systems

Back to Gripen, the aircraft has been in the headlines recently in Sweden due to budgetary discussions. Saab played down these, noting that none of the reported cost overruns are directly tied to the development of the 39E, but rather they stem from political infighting, earlier overly-optimistic Swedish Armed Forces budgets, and so forth. Not having seen the original documents behind the headlines it’s hard to comment further, though it arguably wouldn’t be the first time there has been a refusal from Swedish politicians to recognise what defence capabilities actually cost.

However, for HX the question is largely moot, as Saab is very much in agreement with Boeing in that now the best and final offers really are the final offers, and that by now everything is set if not in stone then at least ink. The Swedish proposal is firm with regards to contents, price, as well as delivery, and as such it is somewhat different from the FMS framework. And there won’t be any major changes or ‘up to’-wordings.

We have been puzzled by some of the reactions or comments swallowed by the media, there is not ‘later’

We’ll have to see what Lockheed Martin has to say about that.

Saab also confirmed that there are further weapon types in the offer that haven’t been disclosed. While there certainly are some who would like to believe this to be the RBS 15, in reality it is likely to be about gravity bombs.

A more cut-throat statement was that not only is Saab certain that the robustness and availability of the Gripen ensure that “with margin there will always be more than 50 Gripens available in peacetime”, their business intelligence based on open sources gives that for “the competition” the corresponding number would be about 35 fighters available. And that is before including the fact that Gripen would be flying less due to the GlobalEyes providing a better situational picture.

We’ll have to see what “the competition” has to say about that.

41 thoughts on “Cruise Missiles Flying over your Head

  1. Martin

    It seems that Finland choosing Gripen would mean that Sweden would improve their capabilities as well. Which in turn is good for Finland.

    Great article!

    1. Mike

      In 2012 (one year before the vote), one of the argument of swiss federal counsil for choice of the Gripen-E was just exatly that: a cooperation ensuring both countries further development of capabilities. (as actually both countries would have profited by it).

      Adding the little knowledge I have about the brasilian Gripen-Deal, I guess it’s an integral part of Saabs strategy: with every export-partner, there shall/can be an improvement for Swedens capabilities, too..?

      (would be an interesting approach, to be honest)

      1. Martin

        Never thought about it that way, but you’re right: the Brazilians wanted big wide-screens in the cockpit and now the Swedes are getting them as well.

        I was simply thinking that an improved Swedish defense is beneficial for the security situation around the Baltic sea. But I’m not sure the Finnish decision makers see the size of that effect to be worth considering.

    2. Swedish chef

      Yes, an almost complete integration of the Sw/Fi airforces make a lot of sense as a further step in common defense planning.
      The ongoing integration of the marines in Sw Amfibiebataljonen / Fi Nylands brigad show that this is not a new idea but rather part of a future strategy.

      In my opinion, sharing technology and strategy as well as training together signals resolve and is an important step towards normalising the thought of a common defense policy together with Sweden.
      Having a bi-national air force should also make it harder for Swedish politicians to back out when shtf.

  2. Ferpe

    As always these weapons abide by the laws of physics.

    For their range, the key parameters are; Flight profile (Hi-Hi-Low or Low-Low-Low, changes range a LOT), Aerodynamics (they are pretty similar to an aerodynamicists eye), Engine fuel consumption (JASSM A straight jet=less range, JASSM>A and KEPD bypass engine = longer range, changes range by up to 30%) and then fuel amount. The latter competes with warhead mass if you keep the weapon mass. So you can fly longer by decreasing warhead (is this what you want?) or increase the all-up weight (JASSM>A is most probably heavier).

    You can also improve aerodynamics = make a better = wider wing (JASSM XRfull), but gains are marginal for a low flight profile weapon. For a Hi-Hi-Lo weapon, this is more of a factor (that stealth better work against modernized S400/500 though or your solution has a stand-in/stand-off jammer).

    Overall, there is no magic involved, just physics, and the weapon to have is a trade of all these factors combined with your desired tactics.

  3. K.B.

    There were no problems with integrating the Taurus in Spanish F-18 and South Korean F-15.
    So this point made by SAAB doesn´t sound convincing.

    BTW:
    I don´t understand the fixation (?) of using the cruise missiles against targets in the south. The most credible detterence to Russia is the potential use of the missiles against targets in the north. Attacking bases of the Northern Fleet would be highly escalating and only part of a last ditch defence, but the possibility alone should be quite worrying for Russia.

    1. Mike

      I don’t understand the fixation on offensive-power.
      Who does Finland want to attack? Russia? Good luck with that, about the same chances as Switzerland would have had against Nazi-Germany back in the day: every REAL attempt to stop the invasion with military power was futile at best. Today we know: plans were to delay the invasion until most troops deployed into “partisan stages” (which makes more sense than the Reduit-strategy did)

      Understanding the need of destroying “access roads” (incl. railways aso), I’d opt for ground weaponry anytime over scrambling a few of at best 60 fighters (!) to destroy them, bc. the fighters need to cover for areal intrusion eg by shooting down the enemys cruise missiles… (if ever possible). Always mind: the enemy will do everything to detect and disable approaching cruise missiles, too (you gonna need a heck of a lot of them)

      From a strategic point of view:
      every piece of offensive material (including a deep penetrator in fighter-usage!) makes oneselfe more of a target by showing “we plan to get you before you can get us”, thus escalating conflicts.

      …using this logic to justify cruise missiles to destroy enemy supply-lines, the debate must automatically be directed towards the point “when to destroy the supply-lines”.
      If done prematurly to an open armed conflict, …the destruction of supplylines is an offensive move thus congrats for starting the war. **
      if done after the initial attack of the armed conflict OR war has been officially declared by the other side, …q is how much sense the destruction of the KNOWN supplylines makes, bc if one attacks, staging-areas aso are full, troops deployed, and simple military tactics would be to a) for the enemy to establish unnkown supply-lines that are no “preset targets”, and b) for the defending side to stop the enemys advances on ones own territory in the short term, …good luck with 60 fighters (if SHTF, there will be not one single aircraft available that could be sent up with cruise missiles to do a strategic run beyond enemy lines while the others cover the counterattack!)…

      While I see the need of being able to defend the country, everytime there are pure offensive-parts bought, I see preparations for a “preemptive strike”, which is nothing else than starting a war.

      Especially when the amount of future fighters will be 60 or less; if you need to stop ground-movements, someone needs to cover that in the air. Thinking of Russia to be the enemy-of-today, you need at least 15 yets for the strategic runs, each going after 4 or 5 strategic targets; leaving 45 in the air for a cover of the attackflights AND finnish air space. Sorry, these 45 must shoot down russian jets in a ratio around 1:20 to make a difference if Russia goes against whole europe. If only against Finland – ratio is even higher. And this is not going to happen under the best of circumstances…

      ** Adding NATO-charta, an unsanction attack on another country does not qualify for Art. 4 and 5 of the charta. Said country would stand alone. So if Finland decides it’s time to destroy some railroads aso – better already had some bombs droping on finnish territory or the Fins will stand alone in the conflict, as all the other NATO-Members will be busy defending their own countries OR will abandon Finland in the first place.

      I have to say, that Switzerland currently makes the same tactical mistakes of thinking a low amount of fighters can do BOTH fighting and attacking at the same time; here, higher ops even thinks 36 planes (or 40 if they go Superhornet or Typhoon) can help stopping ground advancements (ironically: currently with only canon!), while the other 20 give aircover; not one thought shed about “if the country’s under atatck, those 40 jets gonna be busy stopping enemy air movement, while ground-forces desperatly try to evade attacking forces to get at least a small group together”…

      But then, I’m not a strategic genious, others with more knowledge get payed for making such stuff up…

      1. K.B.

        @Mike:
        You are absolutely right about the danger of escalation, if preemptive strikes will look feasible and attractive.
        On the other hand this gives Finland an escalation dominance, it has not have in the years before. And so a (new) mean to deter Russia. Russia doesn´t fear a prolonged low intensitiy conflict on foreign soil. But Russia will definitely fear a substantial loss of its nuclear deterrence.

        I support your argument, that an airborne deterrence may be not the best choice for Finland. Ground launched cruise missile should form at least a supplement.

      2. Mike

        It will give Finland an escalation-option alright, Q is: is it feasable?
        Russia will look at what Finland buys. So it will know what to expect.
        YES, it can escalate. But does Finland want that? 60 Jets. Some cruise missiles.
        …what will be Russias answer to that? The big equalizer:
        their own (hypersonic – and yes I believe they have them) Ground-to-Ground missiles aimed at the runways of Finland. Nothing one can do against them, as the “west” sleept through new advancements in technology; still thinking it’s 1999 and passive stealth to be the sh…t.
        Advantage neutralised, the money for “CM” missspent, Finland not standing a chance.
        Also always consider Russia will outnumber Finland everytime. Especially when only 60 jets will be the “escalation option”.

        Fight smarter, not harder.

      3. …which is why we fight dispersed and try to ensure redundancies. Things will be destroyed in war, both by modern and less-modern systems. You need to build a system that can take it and make the best of any situation. Hypersonics make no difference for Finland compared to e.g. Iskanders, besides costing more ensuring there’s less of them to go around.

      4. The division into offensive or defensive weapons is largely an illusion, most weapons (including cruise missiles) are either offensive or defensive depending on how they are used. In general, the FDF favours an active defence with local counterattacks even when on the defence, and strategically the target is to deter the enemy from attacking by ensuring that they know the cost will be too high, and if that fails to counterattack and throw back the attacker over the border.

        For Finland the issue isn’t as much the first wave, hard as it likely will be, but the fact that Russia has significant reserves and the ability to shift troops and equipment over large distances (especially through use of its railways). Cutting off the frontline through interdicting the supply lines will likely be a key mission, as will targeting other key nodes in the machinery of the Russian armed forces. Here long-range air strikes is simply the most effective and flexible means of achieving that. Sure you can try and do the same with other means, either ground troops or ground launched weapons, but the enemy will try and do everything they can to counter those as well.

        The number of fighters could always be better, but as I discussed in an earlier blog post, once you start to get above 40 operational there certainly are space for more than pure air-to-air.

    2. At least for ROK the JASSM wasn’t cleared for export, so that one is rather different.

      You want to be thinking *very* carefully before doing anything that Russia might feel is threatening their second-strike capability. Sure it’s an escalation, but it’s possible that the next step on Russia’s escalation ladder is nuclear weapons.

  4. asafasfaf

    JASSM acquisition was personal ambition of Lindberg, who also wanted F-35 fighters for Finland in public interview before HX-competition.

    Saab’s offer will very likely include Israeli weapons that cannot be said in public due to Finnish politics.

    Elephant in Swedish military spending room is Patriot system, that was political decision.

      1. Beyond hilarious if you think Lindberg’s personal ambitions matter in the big picture. He was just a brigadier when Finland got JASSM denied the first time in 2007.

  5. asafasfaf

    This is not the best quote regarding the matter but best I could find in short notice:
    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10897829

    “Jos on yksi asia, jossa olen kokenut, että minun omilla tekemisilläni on ollut jotain merkitystä meidän torjuntakyvylle, niin olen yli neljännesvuosisadan kulkenut toistuvasti, vuosittain Yhdysvaltoihin erittäin haastaviin, tiukkoihin neuvotteluihin hallinnon ja kaikkien suurempien puolustusvälineteollisuuden valmistajien kanssa, Lindberg sanoo”

    “Tähän (Hornet-monitoimihävittäjien) JASSM-rynnäkköohjusten neuvotteluun minulta meni kokonainen vuosikymmen”

    1. juurikka

      The more right answer is iskukykytutkimus, even if Lindberg likes and reasonably can take credit of overseeing negotiations: “Vuonna 2004 julkaistun puolustusvoimien iskukykytutkimuksen havaintojen perusteella Hornetin kehittäminen vietiin osaksi puolustusvoimien kehitysohjelmassa vahvistettuja ilmavoimien tehtäviä.

      Niissä edellytettiin Hornetin ilmataistelukyvyn päivittämistä ilmoitse tapahtuvan hyökkäyksen torjuntatehtävän ja toimintaympäristön asettamien vaatimusten mukaisesti. Lisäksi ilmavoimat velvoitettiin luomaan Horneteihin kyky kauaskantoisen ilmasta maahan -täsmäaseistuksen käyttämiseen.

      Uuden suorituskyvyn luominen on osa puolustusvoimien kaukovaikutuskyvyn kokonaisuuden kehittämistä, ja se antaa ilmavoimille mahdollisuuden tukea nykyaikaisessa sodankäynnissä keskeisiä kaikkien puolustushaarojen yhteisoperaatioita tarkalla, nopealla ja kauaskantoisella asevaikutuksella” https://ilmavoimat.fi/ilmapuolustuksen-suorituskyvyn-kehittaminen

      Another angle is to look at Charly S-P’s Not just another
      arms deal and based on that consider how large deliberations the JASSM acquisition has required: https://www.fiia.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bp112.pdf

  6. BB3

    CF – with regard to the Taurus KEPD cruise missile – was their any discussion about the proposed lighter + longer range Taurus K-2 missile that Taurus is supposedly working on with South Korea? http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20201120000177

    https://www.defenseworld.net/news/28365/Europe___s_Taurus_May_Develop_Advanced_Bunker_Buster_Missile_with_Seoul_for_KF_X_Jets#.YM46R-hKg2w

    The lighter weight + increased range of the proposed K-2 would seem to be a significant real world benefit for a light weight fighter like the Gripen E.

    1. No mention of that, doubt it’ll be offered at least at this point in time.

      The lightweight status of Gripen shouldn’t be overemphasised for Finland when it comes to weapons. A single 39E can still lift more or less what I expect we can afford to hang on an aircraft per sortie. A bigger deal IMO is about room for growth when it comes to space and power for sensors and other electronics.

  7. Miguel

    Interesting to see that the US Navy got rid of JSOW-ER in favor of developing a Navy variant of JASSM. They’re even buying 20-25 JASSM-ER this next year.

    Reason this is interesting is that with JSOW-ER being canceled, the US Navy won’t have an internal-carry capable long-range standoff weapon on the F-35C. They’ve also stated the Super Hornet will get JASSM first, and the Super Hornet already has LRASM fielded.

    It’s clear that the US Navy has an alternative idea to how it envisions fighting a high-end foe from what the US Air Force had been imagining. With the USAF recently buying the F-15EX, talk about the “clean slate replacement to the F-16,” and their sudden interest in buying a lot more standoff weapons (like jumping on board AARGM-ER, hypersonic weapons, etc.) it seems like the USAF is starting to move towards not believing in a 5th generation “one size fits all” mantra

  8. BB3

    As to space & power & extra trust performance – it would be great to get more color from Saab re their discussions with GE & GKN for an up-thrusted version of the F414 engine. GE has done a lot of work on Enhanced durability & enhanced performance variants of the F414 engine & the USN has at various times expressed interest in incorporating same on their Super Hornets, but they’ve
    not yet pulled the trigger. GE has apparently offered said engine to India for its indigenous Teams carrier fighters. https://idrw.org/general-electric-to-offer-more-powerful-f414-ge-400-engines-for-indias-tedbf-program/

    Of course, the nirvana solution would be an adaptive cycle variant of the F414 engine that would offer significantly better thrust & fuel efficiency/ range. GE has announced its progress on an adaptive cycle engine for the F35, but nothing re adaptive cycle variants of its offer engines lowering the F15, F16, F18, Gripen, Teams, KF-X etc. https://blog.geaviation.com/technology/testing-on-ges-first-xa100-adaptive-cycle-engine-concludes-proves-out-transformational-capabilities/

      1. Miguel

        Finland buying the EPEs for the F404 spurred the USN to go with the same EPEs in their Hornets. So it is entirely possible.

      2. Miguel, wiki says it was Switzerland not Finland. “GE developed the F404-GE-402 in response to a Swiss requirement for more power in its F/A-18 version. The new engine version was used on Kuwaiti Hornets, later U.S. C and D Hornets, and subsequent Hornets.”

      3. Miguel

        juurikka, thanks for the correction. I must have gotten my timeline mixed.

        Either way, it is clear that foreign requirements could spur development with the USN.

  9. PG

    Thanks C.F for some clearens!

    But the discussion getting more and more tecnical towards todays waepons and we know nothing about future.
    I will take in the strategic side of the matter and specially the political side of it.

    How strong are the agreements done by F. and Sw.?

    The nordic agreement like ACE21?

    Partnership to Nato and C4ISR?

    And in the end US plans for the region?

    Will Sw. support F. with 100 Gripen in case of a conflict?

    Are No. and Den. willing to enter the arena, ask Nato?

    A.s.O!

    Sw. and F. are world leader in electronics, can we do better?

    Can Sw. offer some backbase for FAF?

    And in the end a full membership to NATO for security will that be the power of talk and practise?

    1. juurikka

      Too many broad questions (especially world leader in electronics type of thoughts here are just a distraction). The main thing to note is that Sweden has to participate for its own good no matter what Finland picks. But any of the other picks might mean that an outsider would be slightly more interested what happens around here than otherwise.
      It’s hard to imagine separate conflicts, at least opting out wouldn’t be a real choice for the would be defenders. Maybe attacker could do slightly more selecting, but it’s still not guaranteed that those that are left out wouldn’t become involved for their own good.

      Back base in Sweden is useless. Think about the ranges, combat payloads and no Finnish-Swedish air tanking. It’s more relevant to think about the possibility of Swedish forward base in Finland.

      Sweden is going to have only 100 Gripen in total (and only 60 is E – C/D are due to be retired in 2042) and it’s not much compared to their area.

      Defense Forces need to plan for different situations as Nato membership isn’t up to them. Overall it’s also not close to happening, so it should be left for other discussions.

      Be a little more specific next time.

      1. IED

        Useless is a harsh word. I imagine there being several relevant wartime combat missions over Finnish soil that could use back basing in Sweden. Rovaniemi is only about 200km from Luleå and the combat radius for Gripen is around 1300km. Also I don’t really understand what you mean with no Finnish-Swedish air tanking? Do you want to have a joint service unit? Sweden has had a KC130 for air tanking since 2009.

        I agree with you that forward basing is as interesting as back basing. But I disagree with the idea that Sweden will be involved no matter what. If the good Russian neighbour only wants a small nibble on the Finnish eastern border, Swedish politicians will have a hard time motivating an involvement. Sweden doesn’t “have to get involved”.

        If on the other hand Swedish and Finnish Globaleyes patrol with perfect integration in their own airspace, you will need to also eliminate the Swedish assets to be sure that the Finnish fighters cannot use them. Which will inevitably draw Sweden into a war. I believe this kind of integration increases the threshold to war.

        On the quantity of fighters, I am sure a lot of Swedes would like to see a higher number. But a modern airforce (which the Swedish will be despite having a few C/D) of 100 multirole fighters is still something that cannot be ignored by an opponent. If you take into account a high general level of readiness for the Gripens (NB this is hearsay rather than fact, but a rather consistent hearsay) they count for even more in terms of real numbers. I get the impression you don’t think a measly 100 Gripens can lend valuable support to Finland.

    2. PG

      Complement to my last post!

      The idea came up after reading a rapport from FOI.SE about future development around the Nordic countrys, Baltic Sea and NorthEast corner of Europa!

      I hope you read Swedish and it’s an interesting overall rapport.

      You can find it under FOI-R-4628–SE

      And it got nothing to do with what type of airplane F. Will go for!

      Another hot day

    3. Roland

      You are right about electronics, the level of knowledge about RF electronics is very high, it all goes back to NMT, Nordic Mobile Telephone network, and the Ericsson and Nokia… the foundation is still there. Also, SAAB has mastered GaN technology for radars and this is something very important

  10. JoJo

    Surprise in the Swiss sky: The high-tech stealth jet F-35 won the race.
    It seems the F-35 has won the evaluation on technical grounds.
    Thus the minister of defence will recommend to the government (federal council) to buy the F-35.
    The federal council however doesn’t have to follow the recommendation.

    It was considered to be one of the best-kept secrets, but now several insiders are lifting the veil to the SRF “Rundschau”: The F-35 from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin has by far performed best in the evaluation process of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS).

    Three independent sources confirm the “Rundschau”: Both financially and technically, the stealth jet is well ahead of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Eurofighter and the Rafale. Defense Minister Viola Amherd (Die Mitte) therefore has no choice but to apply to the Federal Council to buy the F-35. The DDPS itself refuses to comment and refers to the confidentiality of Federal Council business. According to insiders, preparations for the eagerly awaited Federal Council decision are well advanced. A media release had already been written about the purchase of the F-35 in the draft – but the entire Federal Council could still decide otherwise.

    According to insiders, Switzerland can buy a larger number of F-35s with the budgeted 6 billion francs than would be the case with the three competitors.

    The F-35 can also boast with its simulator: With this, significantly more training missions can be carried out virtually with the F-35 than with the competition. That saves money and protects the population and the environment.

    https://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/endspurt-kampfjetbeschaffung-amherd-will-den-ferrari-der-luefte-kaufen

    1. Mike

      SRF is very leftleaning, Information is still not official.
      But I fear they’re right about the preference.
      The “higher number” must be VERY high, as Airbus offered 40 jets already (so die Boeing), meaning “a larger number” than the originally planned 36 jets must exceed the offers from B and A by such a large number, that the highest cost-per-flight-hour and all the sourrounding costs of the F35 must be worth it.
      Also, the numbers of units offered would be very telling for the finnish offer: Switzerland only has 6mrd swiss francs for budget; if there are 45 or 50 jets (if less, I so hope Amherd will choose another type!) offered for that money, you can calculate Lockheeds offer for Finnland. (pretty sure they want to reach the same numbers as they lost after Turkey was forbidden to buy the jet!!)

      ALSO the left already announced an initiative against the F-35.

      For me, as former member of Swiss Air Force, I’d make a deal with the devil and sign that initiative. The F-35 is the newest plane in the rally, YET nothing, and i mean absolutly NOTHING Switzerland needs. We have no use of a deep penetrator, we need no stealth, and the leaked test-results of the F-35 have shown: the thing will not do good in alpine regions.
      Also, I remember the experience with the F-18C, everytime the USA wants something from Switzerland, the flow of spareparts stops. I don’t even want to think of how this might affect the F-35.
      As for the simulator – well, as there’s no doubleseater it is a MUST. Yet, all the other candidates have simulators, too, and offered the use of the training-areas of the delivery-countries. (Especially the french ones are loved by swiss pilots training there with the F-18 already, for being so similar to Switzerland).

      If the Rundschau should be right and the parliament following the recommendation (can’t see that; broad front against american jets from the left, and the right.

      CVP (christian people party) does NOT have that much influence, and the federal counsil knows very well: the vote in 2019 was very scarce, so the wrong (political) choice might cause the initiative to get the signatures in record time, AND it might be an easy win for the left.

      Then, there’s NOTHING. No plan B. The federal counsil didn’t plan on further resistance.

      My hopes:
      Plan B: Except Amherd (FC) would offer selecting another jet and the initiative would be retracted after signing the contracts with Dassault or Airbus (as the Superhornet gets fire, too – also rightfully so: all sensors making it Gen4,5 need to be carried in external pods!)…

      YET, as the left wants to get rid of the army (incl. airforce) for good, it will be very unlikely they’ll recind the initiative after the contract was signed/or offered the other type OR even word the initiative to make another choice possible.

      Although: the federal counsil would have the option of making an counterproposal, like emergency-evaluating the Gripen-E and F-16V, maybe even including an option of making a deal with Austria to buy together for getting better prices due to the higher numbers, also getting priority of getting them built earlier aso…

      I so hope Amherd won’t be that stupid listening to higher-ops of Swiss AirForce, bc they still live in 1989 and traditional scenarios for using the jets (not seeing we need a “Aircover” for peace-times, as with the planned number more isn’t possible anyway); none of the american offers (including Patriot) is what we in Switzerland need. In the first time of Swiss Air Force, the whole nation knows this, AND about the risks of buying american (we didn’t remember all the political attacks on our country).

      Eventough the initiative risks a gap in swiss airspace-security, if Amherd opts for both Patriot and F-35 or just one of them, my signature will be on the initiative. (it actually pains me to write this – we MUST replace both F-5 and F-18 before 2030, they’re a security risk already!)

      My choice: Eurosam and Rafale or Typhoon. And a “buy in” to the Tempest-project replacing both jets from 2060 on (or earlier)

      1. Mike

        sry, ment “we DID remember all the political attacks on our country” (by the USA in the last 20 years. “With friends like these, who needs enemys” – even Germany was more polite to Switzerland than the americans… Actually smells a lot like “some blackmailing going on in the background”)

      2. Throwaway

        I don’t mean to be rude, but this sounds highly conspiratorial.
        “everytime the USA wants something from Switzerland, the flow of spareparts stops” “blackmailing going on in the background”

        An arms sale of this magnitude and type always entails a certain degree of dependency on the seller country. It’s also expected that countries will engage in lobbying. This is par for the course and hardly unique to the US (and a far cry from what you’re insinuating). I’d even argue that other countries go way further (see France threatening to block EU membership unless Finland buys the mirage [1])

        Do you have any sources for those claims? I’d be genuinely interested to read more about it.

        [1] https://www.is.fi/kotimaa/art-2000005971751.html

  11. Mike

    Sorry, no. Lots of SRF-pages reporting about the pressure by the USA put on Switzerland in different areas, but as there’s a political decission going on, many of them no longer reachable (a pattern existing since 2015. As soon a decission is done, they’ll reappear time after time after some time… several partys ansered my questions with “we are aware of this, we’ll observe”)

    Since 2003, contracts with the states depend on the wellbeing of Washington.
    No more spareparts, for Switzerland not supporting the coalition of the willing.
    2008 – tax-evasion-skirmish (economical war), making it impossible for Canada to sell F-18-Spareparts to CH.
    Since then, everytime the US wanted something, they put on pressure; canceling dollar-clearing (or threatening thereof) until Switzerland signed the new contract, special requirements getting a visa for swiss, aso…

    Same things happened with the Typhoon-deal: Germany publicly offering to “cancel” some “out of the loop”-demands against Switzerland (like air-noise-pollution by LSZH-debate).

    What I find conspiratorial (literally):

    in 2019, the Gripen-E was disqualified from the evaluation due to the vote in 2014; Federal Counsil feared there will be harsh resistance by the left for the -E still in not deployed to troops incl. an initiative to prevent the new jet for good.
    Since August 2020, the left threatens to make an initiative to prevent buying of an american jet (rightfully so, tbh, neither F-18E nor F-35 are what Switzerland needs: we need a small, agile and fast interceptor, not an attacker).
    …now Viola Amherd blatantly leaks information (or tolerates some people doing so) that she’s going to recommend the one jet that will cause the biggest win for the “Group Switzerland without Army” in its whole existance, while VBS making it clear “there’s no plan B” (they actually have no idea on damage-control for getting another jet (like piggybacking on the austrian evaluation, buying the same jet they’ll get (F-16V or Gripen-E – both excellent choices for Switzerland, even the “merican” one!), nothing. YET they throw themselves into the spears.

    She can’t be THAT stupid?! What is her reason to do so? Why would she do that, why would the other 6 Federal counsils not stop her to do so? (even if they’d plan to go direclty with Tempest/FCAS as early as possible: the 18C can’t fly beyond 2030, there’d be a freaking gap in airshield (especially if they’d opt for the “we hit nothing” patreot (plenty of occasions in the last 3 years have shown: Eurosam hits more than Patriot, and already is where Patriot want to go)

    Gripen-E disqualified out of fear the whole business being stopped. Now the F-35 eventough an “all in”-resistance is announced already, knowing the result in 2019 was VERY scarce (51% to 49% – could as well have been the other way around!) – I just don’t get it.

    Will be interesting listening to her reasoning for sure…

    1. Mike

      sry, was ment as Anser for @Throwaway

      also scratch “wellbeing from washington” replace with “benevolence from washington”.
      (english as 4th foreign language – thanks for your understanding)

  12. Pingback: Lifting the Fog – Corporal Frisk

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