Skip to comments.BREAKING: Swiss selection makes Saab Gripen an export 'ace'
Posted on 11/30/2011 10:12:09 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
BREAKING: Swiss selection makes Saab Gripen an export 'ace'
Switzerland has reportedly made the first move to become the fifth country outside Sweden to acquire the Saab Gripen fighter. If export sales were dogfight kills, the Gripen would now be an ace. [Update: Counting the Gripen sale to the UK Empire Test Pilot School, Switzerland is actually the sixth export customer. The foreign air force operators are the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.]
The news is still based on unnamed sources within the federal council, but the reports from both Swiss and French media (including the Dassault-owned Le Figaro newspaper) are unanimous: the Gripen has been selected.
That means the Dassault Rafale can add another country to its list of export rejections. The Eurofighter Typhoon was also considered in the final selection process. The Boeing F/A-18E/F also was once offered to Switzerland, but it was withdrawn by US officials from the competition two years ago.
UPDATE: Saab has now confirmed the Gripen's victory. Here's the statement:
Saab is both proud and delighted that Gripen has been chosen as the Swiss Air Force's future multirole fighter aircraft.
"The Swiss type-selection confirms that Saab is a market-leader in the defence and security industry and that Gripen is a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money", says Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO Saab.
The Gripen programme will create a long-term partnership between Switzerland and Sweden. Saab assures Switzerland a long-term strategic industrial co-operation aimed at creating sustainable high tech jobs, transferring technology and generating export business.
Saab stands prepared to start negotiations and await the next steps of the process.
UPDATE 2: The Federal Council has issued a statement. According to Google translator, here's what they said:
"With the Gripen, the Federal Council decided on a fighter aircraft that meets the military requirements, but also medium and long term for the VBS and the army is affordable because it is much cheaper not only in procurement than the other two planes but also in operating costs. The decision for the Gripen offers a guarantee that a high-performance combat aircraft can be obtained, without compromising other areas of the army and the necessary equipment."
It is interesting that Sweden, France, and Russia are the only two Eurpopean countries (yes Russia is iffy on Euro cradentials) that still independently design and manufacture fighter aircraft.
Amazing given that Sweden has the population of greater London.
It is aurguable that the USA, Russia, France, and Sweden are the only countries that have independently designed a fighter aircraft (not trainers) in the last 20 years. China and Japan have leaned heavily on existing designs.
Since you qualified your statement with the term ‘independently’, I’d think Sweden may struggle a bit on that. The Gripen’s engines are of US origin, so you can’t export it if the US says no. The radar of the Gripen NG variant is also foreign (Anglo-Italian). Of course, they have far greater design pedigree than the Chinese or the Japanese.
The Swiss have an Air Force?.... WHY?..
Yes, I thought of the engine issue, and it is a very valid point. Its hard to build fighter planes without engines.
Yes and no. You may not be able to sell if a partner has competing products on offer. But a wholly indigenous solution may be too expensive (Rafale) or have limitations (Chinese J-10 with its own engines) to be a success on the export market.
The link can be found here:
Some key points:
"Rafale and Eurofighter showed generally better performance than the F/A-18, Gripen worse"
"The performance of the Gripen in air-air engagements as well as attack missions was insufficient"
"The most limiting factors of the Gripen design were the operating time, the flight performance and the maximum weapon load"
"The Rafale is the only aircraft that has met the requirements of the Air Force in all types of applications"
It is over and done with for the Swiss competition, although I wonder whether this may have an impact on the Indian M-MRCA (when it comes to the contest between the Tiffy and the Rafale). The Tiffy has always been (supposedly) the better A2A airplane, with the Rafale being the better multi-role/A2G platform ...I wonder what happens if the Rafale is also a better A2A than the Tiffy? Although I'd guess that at this stage it is all about costs and technology transfer.
The Swiss Air force got to test a prototype variant of the RBE-2 AESA radar for the Rafale so you would expect it to have advantages in functions such as tracking compared to the older sets on the Eurofighter and Gripen. So that would do much to explain how/why the Rafale seemed to do better in air to air roles.
I don’t think this would have much, if any impact on India since both contenders presented only concepts for their AESA radars and associated capabilities.
The Swiss have an Air Force?.... WHY?..
Surely you jest?
Well, maybe not.
I would think to add some credence to their long history of neutrality.
Thanks - that makes a lot of sense. An AESA, even a prototype, would provide a critical advantage. What about various claims by the French airforce about significant victories over RAF Typhoons? One was 4-0, another 3-1, and the last 7-1. Obviously without full information it would be difficult to even know what the conditions of the engagements were, but it is still interesting.
One issue that gives me thought would be high speed navigation in Switzerland. Their pilots would have to be border conscious from takeoff to landing. Not a lot of room for error flying in a small land mass. I’m sure they have their procedures to cover their relatively small airspace.
What is the threat? France, Germany, Austria, and Italy can be safely ruled out as potential foes within the next 30 years. A Soviet push into Western Europe was the only serious threat the Swiss faced since 1945, and Russia is a long way from duplicating that threat. Additionally, the Swiss are unlikely to be joining any international coalitions within the next 20 years.
So what is the Gripen? It is a bridge aircraft to ensure that the Swiss still have competent people and skills 30 years from now. Thus, the most affordable aircraft would make the most sense. It also has the political appeal of making the Swiss appear nonaligned.
The Indians have much different requirements. Facing off against a capable adversary and mounting long range strikes are both immediate and continuing concerns for the Indians.
They also have one of the highest guns per capita. That’s how they stay neutral.
The Swiss don’t have much requirements as far as offensive capabilities go but their Air Force does operate in demanding conditions. From what I’ve read, they are similar to the Swedes in using dispersed facilities so they obviously value high sortie rates and low operating costs. Their pilots are a formidable bunch.
Europe’s economic slump came as a major boost for the Gripen. However if Rafale wins the Indian contract it will dwarf all of the Gripen sale made by Saab hitherto. Dassault has virtually lost the UAE contract they are now looking at India for survival. India could potentially arm twist them to squeeze out every bit of TOT.
My ex husband was /is in the Swiss Air Force. It’s pretty awesome. They take off from inside the mountains.
I'm not happy about this because it is already hard enough to explain to ignorami that Sweden and Switzerland are different countries.