One Last Hurrah – Finnish Media visits an HX-contender

It’s getting difficult to remember how it all started back when HX was just a working group thinking about if Finland needed a new fighter, but seven years later here we are, perhaps a month away from the decision.

But there was still room for one last media trip, this time by Saab who used their corporate Saab 2000 (the particular example, SE-LTV, being the last civilian airliner ever built by the company) to fly a whole bunch of media representatives for a day-trip to Linköping to one more time share the details about their bid, with the GlobalEye getting much of the attention.

And it’s hard to argue with this. Yes, the Gripen sport a number of nice features from a Finnish point of view, but what really sets Saab’s offer apart from the rest is the inclusion of not one but two airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The capability in itself would bring a huge shift in Finnish air operations regardless of whichever fighter would be at the other end of the chain (no, your favourite fighter isn’t a “mini-AWACS” just because it has a nice radar, you still won’t leisurely be cruising around on 10 hour missions gathering intelligence and keeping an up to date air picture while paying biz-jet operating costs). The value of the kind of persistent situational picture provided by a modern AEW&C platform is hard to overstate, especially in a Finnish scenario where the attacker will have numerical superiority (meaning that the decision about when and where to send Finnish fighters will have to be calculated carefully to ensure it is possible for them to do something that actually has an impact on the battle), the flat and forested nature of the country (meaning that there is a lack of suitable mountaintops on which to place groundbased sensors, instead anyone operating at very low levels will enjoy lots of radar shadows from which they can sneak up on Finnish targets), and the very joint nature of any major conflict stemming from the long land-border and the right flank and rear being composed of water (meaning that any higher-level situational picture need to take into account all three domains).

It is difficult to express exactly how much of an asset a modern AEW&C platform would be for Finland, and that include both the Air Force but also the FDF as a whole as well as the government. And for the foreseeable future, the only realistic option for a Finnish AEW&C platform would be if Saab takes home HX. Picture courtesy of Saab

Crucially, the value of the GlobalEye as an intelligence gathering platform for everything from the operational level commanders to the highest levels of political leadership is unprecedented in HX (and arguably within the FDF as a whole, the SIGINT CASA is nice, but it fills a more niched role). With two GlobalEyes, building a baseline situational picture in peacetime is possible (even more so if data is shared with the two Swedish aircraft coming), and that include both airborne and ground traffic, as the aircraft sports a ground moving target indicator mode (GMTI) making it possible to see any vehicles moving on the ground (the cut-off being rather low, in the neighbourhood of 20 km/h). The GMTI doesn’t create individual tracks for every echo due to the huge amount of vehicles moving at most roads during any given time (though it is possible to manually start tracks for interesting vehicles) but instead the operator will follow general flows and densities. Needless to say, keeping an eye on vehicle movements around garrisons and on exercise fields or counting trains (feel free to start measuring how much of the Oktyabrskaya Railway is within say 300 km of the border) would be a huge boost to the Finnish intelligence gathering work and a huge benefit for all branches of the FDF and the government it supports. Having this baseline situational picture and being able to detect changes in it would be of immeasurable value to both the civilian and military leadership in any kind of crisis, and there is no other single measure that would provide as much bang for buck as getting an AEW&C when it comes to this aspect – and the only way to get it into the budget is through Saab’s HX offer.

(The EA-18G Growler does share some of the same traits in this regards in raising the peacetime intelligence gathering capabilities to a significantly higher degree than ‘ordinary’ fighters, but when stuff stops emitting the value decreases rapidly)

This is an aspect that – even if not completely forgotten – has received surprisingly little attention in media. It might be that the inclusion of the completely new capability and the ramifications it has have been difficult to grasp, but in any case it is likely to have a significant impact on the wargames.

Interlude: in some of the darker places of aviation forums there have been people claiming that Saab is trying to sell a fighter that in fact isn’t the best one out there through packaging it with an AEW&C platform. Regardless of whether it is correct or not, that is a completely moot point. The Finnish Air Force isn’t looking for the best fighter, the Finnish Defence Forces is looking for the best capability they can get for 10 billion Euro (and 250 MEUR in annual operating costs), and if pairing 64 JAS 39E Gripen with two GlobalEyes provide a greater combat capability than the competing packages, how Gripen fares in one-on-one air combat against some other fighter isn’t interesting in the slightest to Puranen or his team.

The GlobalEye is more or less everything you would expect from it. Based on the Global 6000, it leverages the comfort of the airliner to ensure that crew can handle the missions that can go “well above” 11 hours. This means a rest area for the relief crew members, as well as cabin pressure and noise levels on par with the regular business jet. The top speed is slightly reduced due to drag from the radar, but the range is in fact more or less the same as the lower and more economic cruising speed roughly cancels out the increased drag. The business jet philosophy of the baseline Global 6000 also brings with it a lot of other nice details, such as dispersed operations being aided by a very high redundancy of key systems and small logistical footprint (the airliner is e.g. equipped with four generators to ensure that it isn’t stopped by a generator failure. On the GlobalEye that means that no additional power sources are required, and the aircraft can in fact remain fully mission capable even if one generator is lost). For a Finnish scenario, a key detail is that the sensors can be initiated already on the ground, meaning that the aircraft is operating as soon as the wheels are up. The five operators can either do general work or specialise in different roles, such as air surveillance, sea surveillance, the aforementioned GMTI-mointoring, ESM/SIGINT, and so forth. Displays in the relief area and in the cockpit allow for the relief crew and pilots to follow the situation, which is valuable e.g. if new threats appear. The exact sensor setup can be changed according to customer needs, but can include everything from the ErieEye-ER radar, a dedicated maritime radar, AIS, DSB, IFF, and classified ESM systems.

Now, an AEW&C alone doesn’t win any wars, but the Gripen is no slouch either. Much has already been said on this blog, but the baseline fact that Gripen from the outset is made for the very same concept of operations that Finland employs certainly gives it something of an edge. Worries about size and range are also of relatively minor importance in a Finnish scenario, and instead factors such as 40% less fuel consumption compared to legacy Hornets (and with that obviously also significantly reduced exhaust emissions, which should make certain government parties happier) play a significant role when laying out the budget for the upcoming years.

While the usage of a very much originally naval fighter has proved a great success in Finland, and  while several other countries have had good luck operating “normal” fighters in the high north, there’s no denying that Gripen is the only fighter (honourable mention to the MiG-31, but we’re not getting that one) from the outset made to feel at home in the subarctic conditions. Picture courtesy of Saab

Saab was happy to go into some detail about how they envision missions to be flown, illustrating with a typical high-end SEAD/DEAD mission against S-400 batteries where the aim was to take out two 92N6E “Grave Stone” radars. The batteries where in turn protected by a number of other ground-based air defence systems, including a Nebo-M (no doubt chosen for the express purpose of raising questions about the viability of the F-35 in the same scenario), Pantsirs, and a pop-up Buk-M1-2 (or M2, just the ‘SA-17’ designation was shown). In addition two pairs of Su-35s were flying CAP under the guiding eye of an A-100. The approach for this mission was rather straightforward. Two Gripens did a hook to the north where they feigned an attack through using the EAJP EW-pods and swarms of LADM cruising around presenting jamming and false targets, thereby drawing two Su-35s north.

At the same time the main striking force consisting of a four-ship Gripen with 7 Meteors and 2 IRIS-T on each acting as fighter escort and two additional Gripens doing the actual strikes with six SPEAR and six LADM each (plus pairs of Meteors and IRIS-T for self-defence) headed east towards the target. With the LADM and the internal EW-systems providing jamming and the escorting Gripens dealing with the fighters (of which one pair was out of position, as you might remember), the strike pair launches their  full dozen of SPEARs which, together with escorting LADMs, go out and hunt down the two radars. Not even the pop-up Buk appearing behind the strike aircraft can ruin the day.

Now, the scenario above is both rather fascinating in that Saab was ready to go into such detail, and not at all surprising since that is more or less exactly how nine aviation geeks out of ten would have set up the mission given what we known about Saab’s talking points and the weapons and stores offered to Finland. Perhaps the most interesting detail is that Saab thinks six SPEAR are enough to take down a defended S-400 radar (when escorted by EW-missiles). However, what on the other hand was interesting was who was telling the story.

Mikko Koli in a 39E Gripen simulator, note the large WAD-display up front. In real aircrafts, he has now also logged time in the front-seat of the JAS 39D two-seater. Picture courtesy of Saab

Meet Mikko Koli, pilot and operational advisor to Saab since this spring when he retired from his job as test pilot for the Finnish Air Force. As a retired major, he may be outranked by many of the other advisors involved in different parts of the HX circus, but he brings some serious street cred instead. Most of his career was spent doing a fifteen year posting as an air force test pilot, mainly focused on the F/A-18 C/D Hornet and the upgrades it went through in Finnish service. This include different roles in both MLUs, but also being among the key players in the AGM-158A JASSM integration project, which culminated in him being the first Finnish pilot to release a live JASSM.

Which definitely is cool, but don’t let that distract you from the main story: he is a seasoned test pilot who has spent years studying and implementing how to get the best out of a fighter in a Finnish context. When Koli decides to spend his retirement days at Saab, that says something. And when he says that he trusts that their bid is “extremely strong”, that is something else compared to Saab’s regular sales guys.

What Koli decided to focus on, in addition to guiding the assembled Finnish media through the scenario described above (together with retired Swedish Air Force pilot Jussi Halmetoja) was certainly things we have heard before, but with a bit of a different emphasis. The “superior situational awareness” thanks to advanced networking and “excellent” human-machine communication of the aircraft are talking points we’ve heard from Saab before, but they often take something of a back seat when non-pilots talk. Discussing the “live chain” is also a refreshing change to just talking about the kill chain, because as we all know actually living and flying a working aircraft is the first step to being able to actually do something useful. And Koli also in no uncertain words explained what he thinks about the GlobalEye.

GlobalEye pays itself back at any level of a crisis, both for military as well as for political decisionmakers [… It is also] a very capable SIGINT-platform

The JAS 39E Gripen is rapidly approaching operational service, but so is the scheduled date for first aircraft delivery under HX. Picture courtesy of Saab

Speaking of JASSM-integrations, I would be wrong not to mention Saab’s latest talking point when describing the size of their weapons package. Readers of the blog might remember that I had some questions regarding the numbers presented during the BAFO release, when it sounded like the weapons offered were worth 1.8+ Bn EUR, until you read the fine print, at which point it sounded more like 1.35+ Bn EUR. Now Saab was back with the comparison “more than ten times the total publicly quoted costs of the Finnish JASSM-project”, which they confirmed referred to 170 MEUR for the JASSM integration and missiles, making the weapons package coming with the Gripen worth 1.7+ Bn EUR. That is a lot, and considering the 9 Bn EUR acquisition cost also include the aforementioned two GlobalEyes, puts things into scale. An interesting detail is that the JASSM-project as mentioned included the integration costs as well, with Saab now taking care to point out that all weapons integration costs are found under other budgetary lines, and the 1.7+ Bn EUR figure just covers the series production and delivery of the munitions.

Modern weapons are expensive, but that is indeed an arsenal you can go to war with without having to worry about every single missile. At least not initially.

With the Norwegian budget figures having raised more questions than the Swiss decision answered for the F-35, and the US Navy trying to kill off the Super Hornet production line faster than you can get a hornets nest fully cleaned out from a redcurrant shrub (which for me is approximately two weeks of time based on empirical testing), the Finnish skies are perhaps looking ready to accept a non-US fighter again. In that scenario, the Gripen is certainly a more likely choice than the two larger eurocanards, but at the same time questions of maturity surround the aircraft that is bound to reach IOC with an operational unit only in 2025 – the same year the first HX fighters are to be delivered. Basing the 39E on the proven 39C/D-platform certainly helps, and the decoupling of flight critical software from other systems seems to have been a winning concept considering the pace at which the test program has advanced (this includes software updates on flying aircraft every four weeks on average up to this point of the program). However, with nine aircraft operational and the first Batch 2 (series production standard) already off the production line, Saab just might be able to cut it in time.

And there’s always the GlobalEye.

An interesting detail is that as the GlobalEye is optimised for endurance, the aircraft is expected to most of the time operate with a 4.8° angle of attack, meaning that the radar is tilted downwards the same amount to keep it horizontal for optimal performance (as are the operator positions inside aircraft, including chairs, desks, and displays). Picture courtesy of Saab

A big thank you to Saab for the travel arrangements.

96 thoughts on “One Last Hurrah – Finnish Media visits an HX-contender

  1. Uroxen

    First of all I just want to say thank you for covering the HX program like this. Both the blog and your contributions to different research reports on defense policy are absolutely fantastic. The fact that you understand Swedish defense policy and the Swedish perspective but remain an outsider who does not gloss over it’s failings is something that really contributes to getting the Swedish defense back on track.

    With the HX nearing it’s close I think it may be a good idea to think about what any decision means before it actually happen. Hindsight bias is a powerful force and the moment we know what decision is made we will start reinterpreting the entire HX history.

    My personal views:

    This is in many ways do or die for Gripen. There is no better evaluation of Total Cost of Ownership than the HX competition and given the Global Eye and sizeable weapons package Saab is looking to deliver on Gripen being the Smart fighter. This also means that if the Gripen doesn’t win the selection we really need to ask ourselves what critical weaknesses there are that killed the proposal. Simply put I don’t see much room for excuses for Saab other than Gripen just not being seen as a trustworthy choice for the duration of the operational period. As outsiders we will never know about the most critical capabilities of a modern fighter jet but if Gripen as a package fails then it is time for Sweden to critically reassess how we rely on our domestic defense industry for strategic assets such as fighters and submarines.

    I think Lockheed Martin has played this game to fail gracefully since making their best and final offer. The “up to 64” offer is likely a way to play to their own audience while realizing that the package isn’t realistic for Finland due to not allowing sufficient infrastructure investments and weapons procurement. So setting the number 64 is important for the domestic audience while being oddly humble about it minimize the risk of backlash that would’ve been created by being as brazen about it as Saab or Boeing. Being somewhat cynical I view the recent claims delivered to Iltalehti as a form of damage control in a similar vein as they without much proof try to present any selection of Gripen as a political choice made by lobbyists and anti American politicians.

    On the other hand, if the F-35 bid wins it is a massive validation for the the F-35 project. The HX competition is as close as we come to an objective evaluation for the European theatre of operations. So the F-35 winning means that issues such as what we’ve seen with ODIN/ALIS, high Total Cost of Ownership and actual capability are solved or at least have a clear plan for resolution.

    The F/A-18 is by now extremely well proven so a procurement of the F/A-18 really tells us more about Gripen and the F-35 than it tells us about the F/A-18 (apart from it not being dead yet). Given where it is in its life cycle, a procurement of the F/A-18 would be quite the statement about the current status of Gripen and the F-35.

    The dark horse of the race as I see it. It’s an aircraft and it definitely works but selecting it mean that it works well enough for Finland to tie itself to what today is the only functional western military power within the EU. It would be a huge win for France but I would wonder how much France would’ve been willing to subsidize such a deal to strengthen European defense cooperation with France as an undisputed leader. In many ways it would actually make sense as it would strengthen Frances bargaining position within FCAS and show their commitment to the Eastern border of the EU.

    This would be a surprise

    1. Täsmäsää

      Very good sum-up.

      The GlobalEye is really a huge plus, and I would even go so far as to say it is the ‘center of gravity’ of SAAB’s offer.

      For the kind of hybrid operations we have seen in recent years, the GlobalEye and Growler could be most beneficial.

      It is kind of useless to argue about these, because very soon we shall know. We don’t know what the Frenchies have offered. It could still be any one of the five, but some would be more of a surprise than others.

    2. asafasfaf

      If I remember correctly, it was Iltalehti who attacked Saab around the time when GlobalEye&HX was reveiled and one competitor was hidden co-operator in that writing. Saab’s Gardberg commented that some competitor “lost nerve” due to GlobalEye news.

      It would be interesting to know what motivated Iltalehti’s latest writing spree, as they are basicly trying to paint a picture that if Saab wins, it was a purely political decision. Is this pre-emptive face saving? LM’s marketing has specifically stressed that they are the cheapest fighter, no if’s or but’s.

      If Saab wins Finland, it would have some immediate ramifications. Canada’s political leadership would get needed help on how to overrule what generals want and they could pick Saab instead. What happens in Finland would not go unnoticed in Switzerland either, F-35 skeptical press would go overdrive and F-35’s referendum chances would be weakened. And snowball would not stop there.

      1. Boren

        “It would be interesting to know what motivated Iltalehti’s latest writing spree,”

        Because certain Finnish politicians, who usually tend to be very fond of our eastern neighbor, HAVE advocated Gripen. Lockmart doesn’t control our media.

    3. Republican


      Concerning f-35… please explain what you mean “..the package isn’t realistic for Finland due to not allowing sufficient infrastructure investments..”

      All candidates must meet all requirements from level 1 to level 4 to reach Level 5 (assessment of military capability). Do you mean that F-35 didn’t met level 2 requirements (infrastructure) and is already out of competition ?

      More info:

      1. Uroxen

        Level 2 specify that

        “Level 2 is where cost optimization is considered for the first time. If an HX candidate is able to provide a maintenance and training system meeting the Defense Forces’ requirements at a lower price than others, it could allocate more resources either to increasing military Capability or decreasing maintenance costs. Increasing Capability would translate, for example, into additional input into the quality and quantity of the multirole fighter’s Weaponry, sensors and countermeasure systems.

        As for maintenance costs, the tenderer could, for example, decide to increase the number of spare parts or replacement equipment in its total package.”

        Step 2 is an important input into the 5 scenarios and will depend on the number of aircrafts in the offer.

  2. Morten Knorborg Poulsen

    Well at least you’ve given up on pretending to be neutral or unbiased, so i guess that is something.

    1. Oh, that happened long ago! Just this last half a year I’ve been accused of favouring at least F-35, Gripen, and Super Hornet. Believe it’s a bit longer since someone claimed I was bought by Eurofighter or Dassault.

    2. Swedish chef

      Neutral and unbiased – do you even have those words in the Danish defence procurement vocabulary? 😉

    1. Dorfeus

      “A big thank you to Saab for the travel arrangements.”

      I’m still eagerly waiting the same from Dassault and Eurofighter co-op so we could see nice detailed write up about details of their proposal also!

      1. Unfortunately I had to decline visits to Bordeaux, DSEI, and St Loius earlier this fall due to other commitments, that’s the issue with having a real work. Linköping was easier to fit in due to it being a one-day trip and the COVID-19 situation being more straightforward.

    2. asafasfaf

      HX-announcement could potentially come within weeks from now, before Independence Day. I think it’s understandable that blogger makes some conclusion(s) at this moment in time, it’s now or never. Might look silly afterwards, but no game no win when it comes to speculation.

      When FIN-AF’s head of research, testpilot Major Koli(ret.) joins Saab immediately after legally sensible(after best and final HX offers), then even a blind man should see the writing on the wall what is about to happen.
      If he wants to keep on flying, why didnt he wait a bit more and then get hired by the winning company to overlook the HX integration process? Why take the risk of joining the wrong company? Unless…–koelentaja-mikko-koli-pitaa-saabin-tarjousta-suomelle-ainutlaatuisena

      1. Znail

        It seems pretty obvious that Mikko Koli thinks Gripen E will win and he does have some inside information making his guess fairly likely to be true, but it’s still possible that things changed after he left and he gets it wrong.

      2. BB3

        There’s nothing in the piece or Corporal Frisk’s article suggesting that Maj. Koli (ret) has any inside information or any special insight re: which entrant might be likely to win Finland’s HX competition. He’s now working for Saab and he predictably lauds Saab’s products – the Gripen E and GlobalEye, but its clear from the history of his service that he’s not flown the other planes so he can’t really formulate an informed opinion as to which fighter is better let alone which overall proposal is better since he can’t know what each of the contenders has offered. Maj. Koli does express his opinion that Gripen E = GlobalEye would be an upgrade over Finland’s existing F-18 Hornet fleet – but you’d expect every one of the HX fighters to be a big upgrade over those legacy fighters. However, that’s far from having any real insights re: the winning proposal.

  3. BB3

    I’m thinking it comes down to Saab’s Gripen/ GlobalEye package vs. LM’s F35A. There are a lot of synergies associated w/ Finland fully partnering w/ Sweden and the 2 GlobalEye AEWC platforms offer a unique force multiplier and arguably a cost savings freeing up fighters from lots of patrol duties. However the advertised 15-1/ 20-1 kill ratios of the F35 in Red Flag exercises are hard to overlook. But how many get taken out on the ground by a day 1 surprise 1st strike and how hard/ expensive will it be to operate them from remote/ austere bases during a more extended/ drawn out conflict?

    The Super Hornet is being phased out by the USN and the EF doesn’t currently have a dedicated SEAD/DEAD variant and may be too expensive. The Rafale seems quite capable but again may be too expensive unless subsidized by France and Finland would be stuck using a lot of French munitions. The F35 operating costs are seen by the US as quite high but somehow the Swiss didn’t think so. We’ll likely not know how the Finns view same unless the F35 wins, but can’t count it out on capability alone.

  4. Pohjanmaa

    Based on this presention the Growler can use the NGJs as active sensors.

    Even more interesting if they can use the coming NGJ-LB to detect stealthy targets?

    1. Pohjanmaa

      It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Growler.

      “The NGJ reportedly goes beyond traditional jamming too, adding signals intelligence and a communications hub capability to the more usual EW and radar tasks for the AESA array.

      There have also been some reports that the system has the potential ability to launch a cyber-attack, involving inserting rogue data packets into enemy systems in a so-called “network invasion.” Such an attack is rumoured to have played a part in the 2007 Israeli ‘Operation Orchard’ raid on a nuclear plant near the eastern Syrian city of Dir A-Zur, in which BAE’s ‘Suter’ airborne network attack system was said to have shut down Syria’s Russian-made air defences.”

    2. Bjorn Fehrm

      It’s interesting that an official US defense person can point out the limited frequency coverage of the F-35 MFA ESM/ECM to his audience (and through the video the world) 43:40 in (confirms what I wrote about before, my source was another).

  5. EMK

    I am pretty convinced, for multiple reasons, the Gripen as such is not amongst the top two candidates. (I think F-35 and Typhoon are the top dogs in this game.) However, combined with the GlobalEye package, the Saab can even win the competition. We’ll see pretty soon.

    But…. in case Saab does not win the HX deal, I’d still prefer Finland would allocate a billion or two to acquire the GlobalEye capability sometime in near future. Without the capabilities the GlobalEye system provides, we’d have to fight half-blinded. The GlobalEye is simply put a cost-efficient way to remove the blinders, so to speak. (True, both the F-35 and the Growler would alleviate that pain to some extent as capabilities of these planes do overlap those of GlobalEye. But as CF said in the article, it is not exactly the same thing).

    By the same token, Sweden and Finland could (should?) develop a joint spy-satellite program. A small fleet of sun-synchronous, low orbit radar-satellites would give 24/7/365 situational awareness in a much wider area than is ever possible with AC based systems. Both the launch cost and the cost of the satellite hardware itself has dropped dramatically in the last decade or so. Satellites are now realistically within the reach of small countries like Finland and Sweden, especially if they combine their wallets to get / develop this capability. The benefits would be huge, IMO.

    1. asafasfaf

      Aalto University has mini-satellite programs and Saab is deeply connected into Aalto nowadays, so I would not be suprised if Saab’s offer contains a cheap, but military relevant mini-satellite as part of the industrial R&D package.

      If Finland acquires AWACS after the HX, then it would be very humiliating for the Air Force: admitting a billion euro mistake in HX competition. No funds would be given, unless major military crisis looms ahead and then of course, they might not arrive in time.

      And always good to remember, Saab didn’t force push GlobalEye, Finland was interested from day one.

      1. Republican

        That’s right for 4th gen. You need 6 air-to-air gripens to support 2 gripens doing actual strike. That’s 75 % of all fighters.

        Almost the same number (80 %) can be found Figure 3 (Mitchell Policy Paper, page 12). Very expensive.

      2. Again, two F-35s in the real world would not self-escort. F-117 over Bagdad or B-2 over Belgrad isn’t the same. If there’s a serious air threat, you would have escorts, at least two, more likely four. And you might have more shooters because you can only bring two JSM per aircraft. This is a scenario where Saab brought out all their nice toys to play, and while it isn’t unique for them to be able to do it effectively, arguing that they are using too many aircraft or munitions is just silly. I can give you a 2+2 setup, but that is cutting it close with just eight AMRAAMs in total among the escorts, and in fact a good argument can be made for Saab having more space to go from two to four escorts if you’re low on aircraft (as they run less of an issue with running out of AAMs).

      3. Republican

        I’m not arguing that Saab is using too many aircrafts or munitions.

        They have to use a lot of fighters, decoys and munitions to compensate 4th gen deficiencies.

      4. They have perhaps two fighters more than an F-35 strike (unless they want more than two JSM, which is possible), and the munitions costs are probably roughly on pair. The number of decoys is obviously larger, but creating false targets might certainly be a handy option regardless of how you set up the strike.

  6. Bjorn Fehrm

    Nothing says an F-35 launching two times six or even 8 Stormbreakers (max internal capacity of SDB II) would have any higher probability of success. It’s not the aircraft that is the problem, it’s the weapons.

    The S-400 is defended from DEAD by Patsirs and Grizzlys and these will kill just about all of the glide-to-target SDB Iis (no stealth for these weapons). SPEAR 3 has more energy, speed, altitude agility, and can maneuver (jet engine), yet still, a stand-in jammer is deemed necessary. This doesn’t change because the launch aircraft has stealth.

    1. Republican

      The point was that 6 Gripens were needed for air-to-air and only 2 were allocated air-to-surface. Even when using 130+ km standoff weapons.

      This is expensive and has nothing to do with Pantsir and Grizzly.

      1. And your alternative would be…? F-35s in stealth mode would likely not self-escort, so that puts your bare minimum at 2+2 aircraft. More likely they would also bring along four escorts, so then you are up to 2+4 as the minimum viable aircraft, and note that LM would use JSM for the same mission, which granted gives more range but also fewer munitions per aircraft, so for two targets I wouldn’t be surprised if we would see more than two shooters as two JSM per target is cutting it rather close.

  7. BB3

    Corporal Frisk – what’s unclear to me is how Finland will evaluate a lot of the supposed wizbang gadgetry & weapons that Saab is pitching w/ its Gripen proposal as I’m thinking quite a lot of it wasn’t far enough along to be demonstrated back during the HX Challenge in Jan 2020.

    For example, I’m not sure that the Gripen E that took part in the HX Challenge had the IRST sensor and I’m not sure about whether the Gripen Es new AESA radar and on-board EW system were fully functional on the Gripen E that took part in the HX Challenge and the EA Jammer Pod & LA Decoy Missile weren’t even part of Saab’s offer until Aug 2020 – so months after the HX Challenge.

    The point I’m getting at is that a good bit of the Gripen capabilities that Saab is pitching to Finland seems unproven and not yet demonstrated to/ verified by Finland so how much credit does the FAF give Saab for proposed/ projected capabilities.

    In other forums on this topic, I’ve often speculated about whether Saab might fly its latest Gripen E test planes in the Swedish-Finnish air exercises so as to demonstrate new Gripen E capabilities that have been added/ verified since the HX Challenge – but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that happened so Finland would seem to be going a lot on ‘faith/ trust’ if it gives Saab full credit for untested systems/ weapons/ capabilities that are included in Saab’s offer.

    1. Bjorn Fehrm

      May I suggest you study the subject a bit deeper, perhaps looking at pictures from the event before making your post? The IRST and Raven were on both Gripens at the event and it and Raven have been in flight test for five years on 39-7 by then. The only reason some 39-E test aircraft don’t have the IRST mounted is flight test equipment is stored in the place of the IRST boxes (easy to leave IRST out and put in again). The EA jammer pod was there as well and I understand the complete MFS-EW is in flight test (full EW evaluations were specifically said by FiAF to be ex. HXhanke due to closeness to a certain border).

      All contestants are offered with a number of non-operational features (F-35 Block 4 features, F-18 IRST, Rafale F4 features, Typhoon ECRS2, LTE EW….).

      Re weapons offered in HX, All contestants are offering weapons that are not in either flight test on the aircraft or operational (F-35 SDB II, JSM, F-18E JASSM, Rafale JSM, Typhoon SPEAR 3….).

    2. asafasfaf

      Only part of the tests were done in Finland, rest in Sweden, later that year. Same for other providers.

      HX-team has said that when they estimate future projects, they also look back in the history of the company, how projects have gone before. For F-35 this is of course easier as there are official documents stating that Block4 schedule is totally unrealistic and not happening.

      1. Yeah, none of the candidates arrived at HX Challenge in the form they would be delivered in 2025, let alone 2030. Much testing was done there, but there’s also testing in the respective homecountries before and after (also for SIGINT-reasons), as well as for individual subsystems.

  8. Täsmäsää

    What I find annoying is that we are supposed to have only one opinion about this matter, and it is to trust in F-35.

    This is circular logic. It is very simple: “F-35 is best, because F-35 is best”.

    In certain corners of the Finnish internet, people who do not think like this are methodically blocked. And so the circular thinking continues.

    In line with this, we are supposed to ridicule Sweden and ridicule SAAB. “The GlobalEye is no good”, they say – when in reality it is a pretty big deal. It provides a massive tactical and strategic advantage,

    So what we have is a very strong bias for the F-35, and a more or less irrational bias against SAAB. Of course this is only a certain group of people, and not all of us Finns.

    It was Puranen himself who actually lauded public discussion about HX. A certain segment in Finland wants to kill this discussion. Anyhow, they are also unlikely to have any effect on the HX machine.

    It could still be any one of the five, I believe. I think Uroxen had a pretty good and unbiased sum-up of the situation.

    1. EMK

      I don’t know where you’ve been hanging out, but my experience is the exact opposite. Namely, that people love to hate F-35.

      I find it extremely hard to understand the intensity of emotions people seem to be possessed by when it comes to choosing a fighter jet. It is as if their whole world would fall apart if someone dares to think differently.

      Besides, I’ve no doubts regarding the quality of the HX decision process. The only thing that worries me a bit, is that some politicians may not be happy with the HX recommendation and will do their best to screw-up everything (as they usually do).

      1. Täsmäsää

        OK then, you have a point. If F-35 wins, I promise to accept the victory and to stop criticizing it. 🙂

        That will be the best for Finland’s defense also.

      2. JoJo

        It’s just to remind the politicians of how the Wallenberg family threatened Finland the last time they had to choose fighter jets. Many felt this went far beyond the line.

      3. Uroxen

        It is true on all sides and I think for a lot of people fighters jets provide the same kind of joy other people get out of supporting sports clubs.

        In that context the F-35 is the Toronto Maple Leafs or Real Madrid as it is so big, rich and got lots of fans that pretty much everyone got an opinion about it.

        Now imagine if you could never actually play any competitive games and tried to compare them with the Carolina Hurricanes or Atlético Madrid and you got a great environment to create some serious resentment…

    2. Boren

      I don’t know what corners you are referring to but usually the people who are critical of the F-35 do not usually possess even a high school level knowledge of physics and it does get tiresome to listen the same old arguments like how the F-35 is slow.

      1. F-35 somehow causes extremely strong feelings on both sides of the aisle, with people either seeing it as the best thing since the advent of gunpowder, or a turkey with the pricetag of a starship. And I’d certainly argue that you will find arguments based on dubious physics in both camps.

      2. Republican

        Is F-35 slow… 🙂

        Is there any other HX-candidate that can fly 1.6 M and pull 9G’s with 2 x 2000 lbs bombs + 2 x amraams + enough fuel to have 1100 km combat radius ?

  9. Bjorn Fehrm

    @Republican and “fast enough”

    Bill makes a point and it’s valid. But the “need for speed” when going to a target (i.e. with 2klb bombs) is not high. Still, the F-35 has an outstanding range as long as the weapons fit internally (I’ve done the fuel consumption and endurance calcs for all contestants).

    The need for speed is when you egress (either from an A-G or a BVR run) and is chased. It’s a very tricky situation for any fighter. You need acceleration and endurance at full burner and ultimately top speed. The non-stealth group has the drag of weapons and bags going to target but when egressing and being chased all remaining A-G stuff and bags will go. So now all are clean except for self-defense missiles.

    Transonic/Supersonic acceleration and speed aero is different from subsonic aero. Here the fineness ratio (cross-section/length) is important. Chubby contestants without multi-chock inlets are disadvantaged. Here the F-35 runs a risk of being chased down by a Flanker (as do some others) and with full burner is a fat IR target (IR reduction means have 0 effect in this aspect).

    Further, the lack of a HOBS (High Off BoreSight) weapon is tricky if you have to turn and fight. Internal AMRAAMs are not ideal. This is probably one of the most tricky situations for the F-35. Others fare better dependent on fineness/inlets and HOBS capability.

  10. sillstryparn

    We hear this very useful argument from F35 proponents so many times. Can you please explain what high school physics knowledge you are referring too? Is it that radiation in the IR region from hot exhaust gases and leading parts of of the F35 will not be emitted and detected? Is it that an amraam shot from an F35 will have a pk of 100% or so? Is it that GaAs (hexagonal structure) will allow for better thermal management and its phonon energies the same as for GaN (hexagonal structure)? Could it be the typical attacks on Gripen C/E for its lower t/w that is supposed to tell that SAAB is lying about the STOL performance or it has to be because SwAF think it is ok to operate without weapons? Or could it be that that F35, different from GenIV planes do not suffer from reduced range due to that the weapons are in the bay. Civil aviation should pay loads of money for for this precious physics.

    1. Boren

      I’m talking about really simple things like that parasitic drag has a negative impact on the plane’s kinematic performance. For example according to an official performance graph (which I currently can’t find, it’s somewhere on the Super Hornet is effectively a subsonic aircraft with heavy weapon load, IIRC.

      Also I have never heard of any F-35 proponent saying that the F-35 can violate thermodynamics or anything equally ridiculous, so please keep your straw men to yourself.

      1. There’s plenty of ehhh…interesting takes on the F-35 physics going around on the internet (the Super Hornet – or the legacy before that – have never been speedmonsters, so I have no trouble believing that part).

  11. PG

    Hi there all HX lovers!

    Today Swedish ÖB told the media that we need small satelites temporary over scandinavia for communikation and survilence!

    Sweden and Finland are working on them and cape Kiruna is transforming to be able to send them out?

    But there are an alternativ, enjoy NATO and get all this incl. with the price to a standard of C4ISR.

  12. Poika

    One of the things I don’t think I’ve seen much about is the future development potential for the GlobalEye. Over the next decades, it seems likely that enemy aircraft and vehicles will be more stealthy, fielded in large numbers, and likely autonomous. Do you think that a large dedicated sensor platform will be more able to be upgraded to continue to be able to track those new threats as they evolve than 64 smaller radar or IRST systems?

    I think the public has a fundamental misunderstanding of what is meant by GlobalEye as a “force multiplier”. It’s not clear which “force” or forces are referred to or what they are being multiplied by. So a lay person who hears that may think it means that 64 fighters can fight like they are 96, which is still inadequate to match the threat of a dedicated opponent, and unimpressive when you hear claims that a 5th generation fighter has a huge kill to loss ratio. But an AEW&C system would multiply the force of almost every unit in the Finnish military, from an armored unit that knows that attack helicopters are inbound to ships that can fire beyond the range of their own sensors.

    From a marketing view, it just seems a little underwhelming to call it a “force multiplier” instead of a “game changer” or “critical asset”. I wouldn’t call the goalie a force multiplier in a hockey game; in chess I wouldn’t say that the queen is a force multiplier for the pawns; and when fighting an infection I wouldn’t call an antibiotic a force multiplier for my immune system. I suppose they all may be, but it seems like an inadequate and somewhat cold description of something that has a disproportionate impact on success.

    1. EMK


      Good points. I see AEW&C as a joint capability, rather than something that should be tightly coupled with the AF and the HX project. I don’t see why we should settle for a less capable fighter and pay the benefits the other branches gain from the money reserved for the AF acquisition. That’s why I think Finland should buy GlobalEye, or a comparable system, but not as a part of the HX project.

      Of course, it is also possible that Gripen is the best fighter for Finland purely by its own merits (i.e. w/o GlobalEye). In that case, GlobalEye system would be a huge plus. I very much doubt this is the case, though.

      1. Again, there’s nothing such as “the best fighter”, it comes down to doctrine, geography, support, costs, and so forth. And the Air Force isn’t competing with the rest of the FDF for money for “their” systems, but everything comes down to a holistic view and the answer to the question “how do we get the best combat capability for the budget?” If the FDF gets most bang for 10 Bn EUR through buying Saab’s package, that’s the right answer, full stop. If LM has the best effect, then that’s what we should be doing. And if we get best effect from scrapping the air force and buying green crayons to everyone, then that’s what we should be doing.

        The reason the Finnish Air Force (or Navy or Army) exists is to defend the country, not to get some mythical “best fighter” for their own purposes. That’s also what HX tries to do – nail down the best capability we can get.

    2. EMK


      I guess you can read my comment that way if you try hard enough.

      “the Air Force isn’t competing with the rest of the FDF for money for “their” systems”

      Are you serious? C’mon, for god sake. Of course they are. There is a limited amount of money available, every branch has perfectly reasonable needs costing well beyond what they can realistically get. In addition everyone has a bias which makes them prioritize their own needs over the needs of the others. If that doesn’t bring about competition, I don’t know what does. And if you don’t admit that, you’re deluded.

      That being the case, needs of different branches are considered and prioritized BEFORE the money is allocated, not the other way around, as you perfectly well know. Thus, the HX budget is solely for the AF. Full stop. Let me also add that the fact that the AF is tasked to do joint mission types as well is not relevant here. Those joint requirements are ALREADY BAKED IN to the HX scoring.

      Keeping all of the above in mind, there sure is “the best fighter”. It is the one that scores the highest points in mission types that are the responsibility of the AF (weighed by the corresponding priorities of those mission types). There is absolutely nothing mythical about it.

      Only a SUBSET of GlobalEye capabilities are crucial or even relevant when it comes to AF mission types. Using the HX budget to get capabilities NOT in that subset would basically be misuse of the HX budget. Paying operating costs of the capabilities not in that subset from the AF operating budget would take the stupidity to yet another level.

      I very much doubt the HX decision process will give any weight to capabilities outside what the AF is tasked to do. For that reason, GlobalEye may have not such a big impact in the HX scoring as many here believe. And that’s why Gripen should score damn well solely by its own merits to get chosen.

      And finally a disclaimer, as it seems to be required here. I don’t claim I am right and everybody else is wrong. This is just the opinion I happen to have right now and makes sense to ME. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I have misunderstood something. That’s possible, even probable. So if you disagree, say so, but save your bullets for someone else.

      1. Puranen has spent years emphasising that they aren’t looking for a fighter, but a capability set, and that the combat capability will be an all-out wargame of a war in which Finland is attacked, looking at how the offered packages would fare in combat as part of the overall FDF. If you still think the Air Force is looking for a fighter for the Air Force’s own needs (which in itself is an oxymoron), I don’t know what to add.

      2. Yes, and there was nothing that wasn’t covered by my earlier comment. There is no “best fighter competition”, and there is no “Air Force needs”, and if you won’t take my word for it (understandable) I recommend at least listening to Puranen when he has spent years trying to explain it.

      3. Uroxen

        I think you are talking past each other.

        Trying to use a somewhat shared terminology here:

        *The HX budget is defined so the air force is not competing for additional funding or risk having funding taken from them, hence there is currently not competition for budget as each branch got an allocated amount of money and Finnish defense politics are quite long term.
        *It is not about the best fighter but the best system with basing, integration with the rest of the defense, having sufficient weapons etc. So “not the best fighter” is a statement made in regards to the usual 1 vs 1 comparisons done on internet forums. The HX competition is still about selecting the best fighter that fits within the Finnish defense.

        Regarding the role of the AEW&C I think it is necessary to remember that Finland is a small country and that interbranch warfare is very limited compared to other countries. So if the Finnish air force can offer a new capability supporting other branches they will not let that opportunity pass them by just because it wasn’t listed in a set of instructions.

        Personally I also believe that the AEW&C will be a huge benefit for the air force as it means that the Finnish air force can operate on a very high readiness without exhausting resources for the fighter jet force as the GlobalEye can do a lot of the surveillance. I also think people underestimate the survivability of a GlobalEye circling over the Gulf of Bothnia as any attack would need to pass over Finnish contested air space and would hopefully also be covered by the Swedish Air force.

      4. EMK

        @CF, I’ve no trouble believing you, that’s not the issue. You just didn’t understand at all what I was saying. Maybe I explained myself poorly… Anyway, I see no point continuing this, so let’s leave it to that.

      5. Herciv

        I will try to explain what @CorporalFrisk mean.
        It’s best word considering it’s view is about “crayon”. If crayon is the good mean to defend Finland for the FinAF, then the FinAF will choose crayon.
        What you have to consider is that it is not a sourcing of the best fighter but a sourcing of the right solution to defend Finland in the next 40 to 50 years. If this solution means that Finland has to adopt a new posture against Russia then this posture have to be consider at the same level than the plane itself.
        Yes Finland is probably currently receiving many pression from every participant. The choice is to know witch Finland will yield.

      6. EMK

        Initially I thought a dispassionate reader should have understood my point. You did quite a bit better than CF (sorry CF), but the fact that you (and Herciv) also apparently missed the point I was trying to get across made me realize I did really bad job explaining my point.

        Let me assure you, I understand what CF is saying. The problem is/was that his answers to my comment(s) were based on misunderstanding and not really relevant to my point.

        Look y’all. I don’t mind being shown wrong. But you cannot really show anyone is wrong unless you understand what they’re saying. Given that the main reason for the misunderstandings was probably my less than perfect way to say my piece, I thought about revisiting and rewriting my arguments in a more clear and understandable manner. However, I decided its not worth the effort at this point. The HX project is about to end and I am sure we’ll have no shortage of opinions and much more interesting things to debate about once we know the winner. So, again, let’s move forward.

  13. Matias

    It seems like everyone talks like the Global Eye is something new, but every country with an air force has either an AEW&C or AWACS, I mean even Mexico has an AEW&C (Embraer 145) and I do not think they are in danger of being attacked. I think the Global Eye offered by Sweden can be used to break a tie on a close decision between two fighters, but not the sole reason to pick the best fighter for Finland.

    One example if Finland chooses the F-18 Super Hornet which the US Navy has 500+ and Germany will get like 48, it could save lot of money in training maintainers and pilots, parts and missiles since it already has the the F-18 Hornet. With the saved money it could buy the Global Eye from Sweden.

  14. Mikko Saarni

    I’m just wondering, how vulnerable are the two GlobalEye planes which would be the cornerstone of the Finnish air forces under the Gripen solution. At least one of them would likely be grounded for maintenance and such at any time, while the one airborne plane would obviously be the main target of the enemy counter air effort. How capable would the Gripen fleet be, lacking the support of GlobelEye.

    1. Poika

      There’s no doubt that they would be high priority targets. Every country on the Baltic has AEW&C capabilities except Finland, and all of those planes can be destroyed. But the same can be said about corvettes or radar stations. It seems the specific vulnerability would depending on their countermeasures, speed, distance from the enemy, and ability of systems to intercept or jam any long range missiles fired at them. Only the HX program has the details to say how capable the Gripens would be without the GlobalEyes, but it looks like they would be comparable to all other contenders and a huge upgrade over the current Hornet fleet.

      Matias, I think the HX program is set up so everything has to come in the same package, so if Boeing wouldn’t be able to come back to buy the GlobalEye based on future cost savings. They maybe could have partnered with Northrup Grumman to bring the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which would be a natural fit as another US Navy carrier plane.

      1. Mikko Saarni

        Thank you for your knowledgeable comments. Gripen E is likely comparable to all other contenders, except for the F-35, which is a 5th generation stealth fighter. To me, the question seems to be, if the Gripen package including the two GlobalEyes is close to being comparable to a fleet of stealthy F-35s with advanced sensors and sensor fusion. I guess people outside the folks who evaluate and compare them in various simulations and scenarios, will never know the exact answer. Another open question is, how long will the Gripen E remain up to date. We know that the F-35 will be updated and enhanced at least up to the 2060’s.

  15. TT

    Wondering about the additional/incremental personnel cost that both Boeing & Saab offers would create. Both options would need ~20 RIO’s and those FAF does not have today. To get these professionals educated would take a good amount of euros and then annually ~2M EUR for salaries. So the additional capability would not come cheap. Maybe this has been subject here before but I have not noticed related discussion.

  16. asafasfaf

    Finnish HX war games are gradual as war often has this element of escalation. From early intel and small scuffle phase to an all out red dawn in the end with worst case scenarios. Reliability and availability plays a big role when fighters need to go into air time and again.

    But GlobalEye shines also in the hot war phase, when it can see anything from cruise missiles, to a fighter or UAV or a far away ship. All while many ground radars can be kept in passive mode and hidden from the enemy(they always need to relocate after emitting energy). For example new Laivue2020 ships can fire their anti-ship missiles to a target over 400km away, all while keeping the main radar shut.

    When radar energy is focused, GlobalEye can see some air targets 600km away, Try putting a 600km circle in Tampere with Google Earth and look how far it goes. There are many reasons why Saab calls GlobalEye “a strategic asset”.

  17. sillstryparn

    Yes, it is hard to know about sensors. There is no proof that the sensors on the F35 are better than those on the Rafele F4, EF2000 T4 or Gripen E, although I would believe that the F35 radar likely is pretty extreme in it is imaging of ground targets and have really good sensor fusion with the IR sensors for that purpose. On the other hand Gripen E and EF2000 have swash plate, modern AESA radar and seemingly very efficient IRST. This allows for an egress while still 2-way linking long range Meteors or other attack weapons, performing EW, or scanning the sky for threats. Gripen E also uses GaN EW and from the discussions it is seems that Gripen E cover a wider range of frequencies than F35. This should be quite important.
    All contenders in the 2027 or so version are of course sensor fused and there is no reason to believe that e.g. Gripen E is less sensor fused than F35 in all or most aspects, although it might less focused on superior ground attack, if I would guess. Gripen E, and I guess the rafale and EF2000, will be easily updated in a fast way after the first encounters to be improved within the day. Here it seems that F35 is behind, and one might think that the newer generation aircrafts which should have the feature will surpass the F35.
    SAAB joined the British 6 gen imitative likely to cost efficiently continue to up-grade hardware as well as software to “future prove” Gripen and learn about stealthy AC not to be surprised by something. Same with the neuron project which should have left important knowledge of drones and stealth detection. The whole idea with Gripen-E is to easily and often up-grade it. Now the US is adopting this concept in e.g. F15 EX and the 6 gen:s.
    A time range all the way to 2060 for a frontline/sole fighter aircraft seem really a political thing to smear out costs. Thinking that sensors and sensor fusion with ground and AEW radars etc in combination with drones I don’t see F35 as the future proof aircraft many believe it to be.
    So, shortly, it is so sure that F35 is more future proof than other contenders.

  18. Bjorn Fehrm

    There is no other fighter than Gripen E at present that has a guarantee that a software update in the tactical software will not interfere in safety-critical functions. I was at Dubai Airshow in the week and talked to people involved in FCAS and Tempest. The key change for these projects (in addition to adding stealth) is to get this change, as the present situation is untenable. Updates with years in between are just not OK anymore.

    US NGAD has this as the most critical change as here stealth is legacy. The slow and painful development of F-22 and F-35 is 100% attributed to an enormous amount of verification testing.

    The isolation of tactical changes to the tactical side is not something that can be added in the aftermath so the present platforms that haven’t got it, live with slow update cycles for their lifetime.

  19. Täsmäsää

    But, will it be Rafale then?

    Here we see again that there is a group of F-35 fanbois who dislike the Gripen. Likewise there is a group of Gripen fanbois who dislike the F-35. And various kind of political and personal/irrational issues behind these.

    Which contender is not hated by anyone? Rafale.

    Now think: which European country is least susceptible to Russian blackmail? France is energy-independent, I think.

    Now then, what is the most independent choice… also for Finland? Maybe Rafale.

    I certainly see the benefit of Globaleye. I am not discounting the quality of the Swedish offer. But is the “Frog option” the most balanced option, one of the most ready, off-the-shelf options, and politically very palatable? All this in addition to being a fearsome asset.

    And we shall see soon enough. I could be wrong, but… let’s see.

  20. Mikko Saarni

    Leaving the quality of the sensors aside, since we don’t have access to classified information on their actual performance, although I do believe the F-35 has an advantage, perhaps a significant one, in that area, much of the discussion above seems to ignore the game-changing quality of the F-35: It’s the only real stealth fighter of the contenders. In that respect, it’s the most future-proof of them all, because in the coming decades stealth will not be just a nice bonus, but a minimum requirement for a credible air defence.

    1. TA

      I agree with you that we don’t have access to classified information on their actual performance and quality of the sensors. 

      What we do know is that the Gripen is the only HX contender that has EW-sensor of Gallium Nitride (GaN). As compared to the more frequently used Gallium Arsenide semiconductor. Gallium Nitride (GaN) which generates less heat, and has the capacity to operate at high voltages

      When it comes to EW sensors I do believe the Gripen has an advantage.

  21. Mick.

    OK, close enough to put your money on the table.

    I think it will go to Saab.

    CF said “Again, there’s nothing such as “the best fighter”, it comes down to doctrine, use, etc”
    This is true but most do not understand what the principle for making that choice is. This decision will be (has been) made on Finland’s consideration of, in this order.
    1, Political
    2, Commercial
    3, Military (can it tick the basic boxes)

    You can argue until the cow’s come home about radar c/s, sortie rate, jobs etc, none of that matters. All Military procurement projects regardless of equipment type or Nationality are based on the same premise. With that in mind, put your best bet forwards.

    1. Matias

      Mick I agree with you and CF in that other factors you both mentioned will have a major affect on deciding Finland’s next fighter.

      Finland could decide on the Gripen because it values it’s relationship with neutral Sweden a priority, because being next to each other, politically and economically. My question is if Finland gets into a conflict can neutral Sweden still supply Finland with fighters and missiles? and still remain neutral?

      Finland could also decided that in a conflict it will have to rely on NATO and the US so it might pick a fighter from that country. It could also want a good relationship with LM or Boeing since they also can provide other weapons and ammunitions and could have some of those built in Finland.

      For that reason I say Finland will pick the F-35A or F-18 Super Hornet.

      1. Kjell

        It seems that you missed that Finland and Sweden have laws that do to support each other so I don’t understand your statement about neutral Sweden, NATO will not come running.

  22. sillstryparn

    Not many people believe that the F35 structural stealth againgst small x-band fighter radars will give much advantage for more than 10 years, or so. This seems even to be what e.g. Israel thinks, according to some discussion fora.
    With netcentricity and many sensors looking from different directions, some using longer wavelengths that more easily detect stealth planes, combined with fast data processing and AI, will make the present stealth aircraft much more detectable in a close future. Even today several manufacturers claim to detect stealthy targets, although not telling under which circumstances, including Selex/SAAB. Sweden having been part of the nEuron project with testing likely know how to detect stealthy targets. The GaN radars have just started and likely there is a fast improvement curve to expect in this hardware which will make it even easier to detect targets.
    Then, besides the wavelength and directional aspects, there is the other parts of the spectrum including the IR spectral range. A very large hot engine will pour out a lot of hot gases to propel it, even if elaborate cooling of the body and hiding of direct IR radition to some degree will reduce the IR emission. Multispectral IR sensors will be difficult to evade in clear weather. When releasing a missile there is a flash that will be detected and missiles with 2-way link can be sent to the direction to be updated later or have is own ”intellegent” final part search.

    So, while the F35 structural stealth is set, there is a fast development in computer power allowing for netcentricity and AI, GaN sensors and emitters, and drones. I believe this will make the structural stealth of the F35 less important than its possiblities for upgrading its senors and EW and out of the plane AI etc. Here I think the F35 has its strongest part. The problem here is that it seems to be hard to update which seems to be noticed in the USA as they are fast making F15EX and next gen fighter.

    My take is that, boring enough for us military aviation interested, computers and drones will be dominating and the systems aspects will be way more importnant han the fighter plane and its tiny x-band radar.
    Not the least, the strongest role of the F35, the A2G might well be the first to be taken over by stealthier drones maybe in elaborate constallation of specialised expensive and cheap disposable ones. Another area quickly developing is light weight batteries which can be used for EW and sensor drones, as well as non hot gas emitting propulsion (possibly with an endgame booster) while being smaller and even more stealy than an F35.

    Comparing the usefulness of a stealth fighter in different areas in world, my take is that the high north of the scandinavian peninsula is perhaps the one with least advantage. The often clear skies without humid high althitude layers and clouds that rarely rise above 7000 m will put an aircraft with much engine power (combustion) visible at very long range. The only ”good” situation would be to fly very low in the mist raising 100 m or so which is often present some times of the year. This requires a very good ground collision control and perfect knowlegdge of masts, windmills, powerlines etc. and reduces the range. Here there would not be any advantage for F35 againd 4+ gens.
    The situation is different in Asia though with very high clouds impregnable for IR most of the time and I guess exhausts and heavy pollution will further make IRST tricky to use.

    To the other defending part it would be hard for a few AC, stealthy or not, to handle large amounts of decoy, EW, weapon and other drones. Especially if requiring long time on the ground for reloading and refuelling. Here it might actually be important to have a good accurate cannon as one might run out of missiles if using them for simple drones.

    1. JoJo

      You must contact everyone developing new fighter planes, and tell that they are all wrong when they try to design stealth planes.

      Like Tempest where Saab is included, FCAS with Germany, France and Spain, the TAI TF-X in Turkey, the prosjects in China and more. You must know something that everyone else have missed. Good luck with your mission.

    2. Poika

      I’ve seen a lot of online arguments, and I’m constantly surprised by the quality, depth, knowledge, attention to detail, and reasonableness of so many of those who post on this board and about HX in general, regardless of their plane preferences. I wish all internet commenters would put in the same level of effort instead of just trolling or throwing fallacies out. If Corporal ever hosts a FriskCon I’d be tempted to fly to Finland and buy most of you some beers.

    3. EMK

      Let’s give you a benefit of doubt and assume everything you say will happen. The question then becomes: How long will it take for all this new tech to become operational?

      If you look how “fast” things have happened in the past, you’ll be quickly disillusioned. Sure, there are some exceptions, but usually those have happened during a war and have required massive investment, not to mention about forgetting any commercial considerations.

      Even though I think you are right about diminishing value of stealth, I think you’re way too optimistic (or pessimistic, depending on whom you ask) about the time frame. Besides, the relative advantage of stealth doesn’t go entirely away even after all the new tech you talked about will be operational at scale. To render it all together meaningless requires even more advanced technologies.

      If you think our “friends” at the other side of the Finland’s eastern border is able to bypass some of these considerations you maybe right. They do have advanced concepts and a simple, ultimately one man decision structure. But our friends have also quite a big mouth, tendency to exaggerate their military capabilities and really poor track record in developing and deploying advanced systems.

      The bottom line is, IMO, that stealth will be an advantage for a long time. It is hard to say how big an advantage it will be, say, in 2040’s and forward, but I think it is still there – especially against an opponent like Russia.

      Finally, if someone thinks I am arguing for F-35 and against Gripen or other 4th gen planes, you’re wrong. The only thing I care about, is that the most capable system will win the HX competition.

  23. Blue 5

    Stealth is not a binary commodity. Low radar / IR signature is undoubtedly useful, the problem is the opportunity cost. In the case of the F-35 that means it is rather lumpen and slow (whatever Flynn says, it simply is). Combine that with the issue of the A / B / C design requirement and you have an aircraft that, while capable, is somewhat flawed. Neither all-powerful nor cost-effective. I would caution any air force seeing this as their single-use fighter.

    A particular issue is that it was never designed to be cost-effective or foot-print light when it came to operation. LM have basically said as much and certainly it has been observed repeatedly that aircraft OEMs tend to make RoI on the through-life not the sale. The US thought they could handle the F-35 running costs but that is now looking a little iffy. LM (helpfully sticking to the ‘2012 $’ calculation to confuddle people) claim they will bring the price down but given they are responsible for only c. 40% of the cost (Steve Trimble posted this a while back) that looks unlikely. If the USAF cuts its order (my money is on a total of 800 – 1,200 ‘A’s) then the operating cost will likely rise as economies of scale benefits fall. This may also affect updates / upgrades – Bl.4 is already creeping to the right and I would be astonished if that does not continue, concurrent with cost rises.

    The F-35 issue for Finland I see as 3 points:
    – It does not have the performance as an interceptor
    – The already high operating costs and mediocre availability (yes, it’s got better but questions remain over how that is measured) would likely be exacerbated by Finnish operating conditions. The ‘A’ model particularly was intended to be run from large, well-established bases. Deployments have already had issues with effect of environment on the skin, not to mention ALIS shortcomings when away from the generous bosom of Mummy USAF / LM stocks.
    – Finland is getting nothing in terms of IP / ToT. Belgium is still wondering how they got fooled into believing the offset would help. US will keep all the key to the programme and Finland would have to ‘go whistle’ when it came to any input. Too late and too little, as the T3 partners would tell them (Israel, though an SCP, is always different).

    The Super Hornet at least is designed to be deployed under horrendous conditions, but my view is it lacks the performance the FAF needs. Growler is interesting, but very specific. Am not sure Germany will go through with their purchase, either.

    Typhoon would be great fun, but is also very costly. Maybe a very good solution, but I do not think it is an optimal one given wider Finnish programme requirements. Meaningful involvement would be also likely poor. Rafale is a lower-powered Typhoon, so see arguments above. And ask ASC about working with France

    Gripen, well, it is a good and often undervalued aircraft. The GlobalEye offer is arguably a better package than are the others. The fighter is intended to be operated from clearings in woods, it can be supported by 7 people and a dog and Sweden is next door. Crucially, it is also still fluid enough for Finland to become a programme participant rather than simply customer. Yes, others have lower-RCS, better RoC and heavier payloads, but as a programme it is a strong compromise. Can also lug around 7 Meteors.

    Genuinely do not know how this will go, but I suggest Saab would be possible the best overall offer for Finland.

    1. Mick.

      The Super Hornet never was a Canadian option for a Canadian Prime Minster.
      After Boeing put an end to Bombardier passenger aircraft production the F-18 became a political no no.
      Remember folks, the first consideration in any fighter competition is a political choice!

  24. Täsmäsää

    Once again in that dark place of Finnish internet where insulting LM is an unforgivable sin, they have seem to have misunderstood the concept of “runway requirements”.

    I don’t know anything about the subject either, but I am good with google. One factor when calculating runway requirements is the “accelerate-stop”. This means the distance it takes for the plane to accelerate to “rotation speed” (meaning when it can detach itself from the ground), then reject takeoff, and brake until it stops. This is not the same as a when a plane accelerates till it gets airborne.

    So who is going to brake faster, F-35 or Gripen? My bet is Gripen. It was given canards as brakes. Gripen turns down the canards, and together with the wing rudders an aerodynamic downforce is created which enhances the mechanical brakes’ power.

    Therefore, which one is suited for distributed operations from improvised runways and which is not? To make a long story short, Gripen is the one that is suitable. And yes, the F-35 needs much longer runways.

    I am convinced that F-35 is not the choice of HX. Superbug has dropped out of the Canada race and that is an omen of some kind. HX will have canards, folks. Three more to go.

    1. asafasfaf

      During HX challange, F-35 using afterburner caused the runway asfalt to smoke, whole runway was closed as they inspected the damage. Also F-35A’s front wheel looks something not intented for dispersed operations and hard landings.

      1. Täsmäsää

        This will be something of a setback for the F-35, then… but also, they can simply be public about the fact that the F-35 is not suited for Finnish ‘modus operandi’ and even though it is the “most advanced” choice it did not fit the requirements.

      2. Bjørnar Bolsøy

        asafasfaf srote:

        “During HX challange, F-35 using afterburner caused the runway asfalt to smoke, whole runway was closed as they inspected the damage.”

        One has to wonder how the F-35 is operating with no such issues from airbases around the world.

  25. kalle Andersson

    I think the Meteor, and to some degree the Iris-T will determine this. Shure, the Britts are working on integration of the Meteor. But it will take years, and a billion of Euros for the Finns to integrate the Meteor when its done. And then a Billion again, to buy the missiles! I dont think so. The easy to jam, Amaraam, would be the standard missile for the Finns, for a long time if they go for F-35.

    1. kalle Andersson

      Sorry, was thinking in Swedish money. But 100-300 million Euros to integrate the Meteor, and then the cost of the missiles. And they are not cheap!

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