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Thread: The future of Austrian fighter fleet

  1. #1
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    The future of Austrian fighter fleet

    The latest news is the Typhoon fleet of the Austria air force would be retired by 2020, and replace it with 18 supersonic low cost fighters.

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...m-2020-439130/

    Austria is to phase out its fleet of 15 Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons from 2020, amid a deepening row with the four-nation consortium over the cost and capability of its aircraft.

    Vienna in February began legal proceedings against Airbus Defence & Space and Eurofighter over alleged fraud and deception related to its near €2 billion ($2.28 billion) acquisition of the Typhoons in 2003. Airbus and the consortium deny the accusations.

    But its proposed exit from Eurofighter operations from the end of the decade reveals the depth of Vienna’s dissatisfaction with the Typhoon.

    The Austrian defence ministry describes the Tranche 1 Typhoons, which it received between 2005-2008, as possessing “limited equipment and significant cost uncertainty”.

    It says retaining the 15-strong fleet for the next 30 years would see it incur costs of between €4.4 billion and €5.1 billion ($5 billion-$5.8 billion). Figures produced by a special commission appointed to examine the issue suggest the fleet switch would generate potential savings of €100 million to €2 billion in the period to 2049.

    At present, Austria conducts airspace policing missions with the Typhoons, as well as an aged fleet of 17 Saab 105OEs. These, it says, will require replacement from 2020.

    By aligning the out-of-service dates, Vienna will be able to move to a one-type fleet of 15 single- and three twin-seat aircraft, it says.

    Defence minister Hans Peter Doskozil says: "Those who say yes to Austrian neutrality and sovereignty must also say yes to modern, high-performance supersonic aircraft capable of round-the-clock operations.

    “At the same time, we need to get the escalating costs of the Eurofighter under control and minimise the enormous cost risks associated with it – in the interests of the taxpayer, and also in relation to the other branches of the armed forces.”

    Austria has based its decision on a report generated by the special commission it set up in March, headed by the air force chief Brig Karl Gruber.

    The report concludes that the air force requires a new fleet of supersonic fighters, able to operate round the clock, and equipped with guided missiles and an advanced self-defence system.

    It says the new aircraft should be acquired via a government-to-government deal and could either be purchased or leased. A separate commission has now been established to examine aircraft and acquisition methods, says the defence ministry.

    Among the 19 options analysed by the commission was the upgrading of its current Typhoon fleet and acquisition of three used two-seaters.

    “However, continued operations with the existing Austrian Eurofighter fleet would involve cost risks that are difficult to quantify at present," says Gruber, noting the gradual replacement of Tranche 1 examples by the consortium's partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

    "Consequently, it appears likely that there will be no uniform Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 system in the future," he says.

    Eurofighter declines to comment on the detail of the Austrian report, although it says: ‎"This is an Austrian defence procurement discussion and it is not for us to comment. However, the Eurofighter works very well for all other customers."

    As the Saab 105OEs are also used for training missions, the report also signals Austria’s possible intention of replacing its fleet of Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainers at the same time.

    If the PC-7s are phased out it will look to buy training hours from a European partner in the short term, while in the longer term Vienna would upgrade its simulator training and purchase a “high-efficiency trainer” aircraft. It does not specify if this would be jet- or turboprop-powered.



    From what we know:

    1) Retirement of Typhoons from 2020

    2) Replacement with 15 single and 3 twin seat supersonic fighters. This would replace both the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab 105OE fleet.

    3) Replacement of PC-7 fleet with either a "high efficiency trainer" or buying 3ed party training hours.


    From the statement, it is almost taiilored to buying or leasing the Saab Gripen C/D.

    If looking at the lastest Saab Gripen C/D offer to Bulgaria, a fleet of 18 Gripen C/D would be in the range of USD 1.25 billion. Another western(ish) option for a supersonic low cost fighter would be the KAI golden eagles. Looking at the Iraqi deal, 24 T-50IQ cost them usd 1.1 billion. The Philippines FA-50PH deal was USD 425 million for 12 aircraft. I think those are the only 2 low cost brand new supersonic fighters that is available right now. I don't think non western types such as the JF-17 or the L-15B would even be considered.

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    Other possible choices:

    1. Buying or leasing 2nd hand F-16A/B/C/D.

    2. IAI Kfir block 60.

    3. Buying 2nd hand Mirage 2000-9 from UAE.

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    4. Indian LCA Tejas MK1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toan
    4. Indian LCA Tejas MK1.
    5. Avro Arrow

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    Realistic options are:
    1. JAS 39C/D
    2. F-16C/D
    3. Typhoon. Yes keeping them is still an option... I think. I need to read the report first. Tranche unknown, but probably T1 at full spec.

    Here is the link to the official report (in German): http://www.bundesheer.at/download_ar...berwachung.pdf

    (wtf, they used Calibri? Fail... )
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    The option of keeping typhoons would entail getting 3 more 2 seater tranche1 typhoons while still having to get a replacement for the saab 105OE.

    The new type would need to be economical enough to be used as a LIFT for new pilots while capable enough to be used for all weather air policing missions.

    The gripen has no build in training systems for LIFT missions, its twin seater is mostly used for operational conversions to the type.

    I don't know if austrians still have non-white man product allergies as the TA/FA-50 is built by small-eyed yellow skinned asians...

    BTW going for a KAI solution could mean getting the KAI KT-1 trainer as the pc-7 replacement. A KT-1, TA-50 and FA-50 combination for all of the stated austrian requirements.

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    the UAE -9 aren't NATO compatible. And UAE do not want to sell them, they are quite happy with them (they sent them to eastern africa to bomb in Yemen)

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    Funny -- not too long ago I suggested on this forum that perhaps Austria would dump the Typhoon and go for something else in the not too distant future.

    I was told this "could not happen", and now, look...

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    The Austrian government now wants something that is much cheaper than Typhoon ~ Some fighter with the number of 18 that will cost much less than 5.0 billion Euros after 30 years of service life.

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    The Austrian government now wants something that is much cheaper than Typhoon ~ A new supersonic fighter with the number of 18 that will cost much less than 5.0 billion Euros after 30 years of service life.

    And the new supersonic fighter must be availabe at the time of 2020 to 2023.

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    The cheapest new build supersonic, grifo s-7 radar equipped fighter would cost Usd 6.4 million each. But i don't think Austria would have a look at them...

    If going with the used f-16 route, 30 years would be only 4,500 hours with 150 hours per annum. That is within the latest SLEP to 13,856 hours, so even if you pull out a 6,000 hour airframe from davis-monthan, you could still use it for 30 more years. But it would be a 60 year old antique when you are done with it.

    Gripen, it would be awkward as the typhoon beat the Gripen c/d in the first place. But right now it must be the first choice, as all the chatter with leasing options, 15single+3twin seaters and such points firmly at the gripen.

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    The option of keeping typhoons would entail getting 3 more 2 seater tranche1 typhoons while still having to get a replacement for the saab 105OE.
    The Saab 105 will be retired without direct replacement. Those 3 twin seaters are the partial replacement.

    I don't know if austrians still have non-white man product allergies as the TA/FA-50 is built by small-eyed yellow skinned asians...
    What the hell is this BS. Clearly the Gripen is the favourite no matter what. Has been from the start due to the strong connections of Swedish and Austrian social parties. F-16's role is mainly to lower price I guess. The Korean jet on the other hand is not compatible with Austria's IRIS-T, has no BVR capability and Austria would be the sole user in Europe thousands of km away from support. And Austrian socialists are not best buddies with Korean politicians. Please, no reason to bring the racist card.

    Re KT-1. Same. Do you really think a happy PC-7 (and PC-6) user, a direct neighbour to Switzerland nonetheless, would buy a Korean derivate? Come on.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eagle
    Do you really think a happy PC-7 (and PC-6) user, a direct neighbour to Switzerland nonetheless, would buy a Korean derivate?
    Don't count out this guy:



    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...s-year-438538/

    While the PC-21 is altogether more powerful and there may hence be room for both theoretically, in a budget-driven either/or situation it could be a tough opponent, depending on what Austria is looking for. At least with the "-750" variant powered by "a GE Aviation engine" (no prizes for guessing that'll be the 750shp H75...) it'll become a fully capable PC-7 replacement.

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    The Korean jet on the other hand is not compatible with Austria's IRIS-T, has no BVR capability and Austria would be the sole user in Europe thousands of km away from support.
    Iris-t is designed to be fully interchangeable with any platform that is already fully cleared for the sidewinder.

    As for BVR, i don't know of any air policing missions that lets you kill unidentified contacts BVR. But if you need BVR capability

    Click image for larger version. 

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    As for support, this plane has also offered by Lockheed to Poland recently (but beaten by aermacchi). If austria buys it, surely it would be supported from US and korean bases.



    The DART-450. Forgot about that plane. Quite interesting as it is said to cost cost 1/3 of the pc-9. The question is would it offer a complete training system (ground, simulated, embedded) like pilatus or other matured offerings?
    Last edited by alexz; 9th July 2017 at 00:20.

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    fact is,they have, as of today, a fighter that is "incomplete"... they most certainly won't buy something that has nice brochures, but still needs to have such basic capabilities added yet...

    to put it clearly, forget about the FA-50 in Austria.. it simply won't happen

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    fact is,they have, as of today, a fighter that is "incomplete"... they most certainly won't buy something that has nice brochures, but still needs to have such basic capabilities added yet...
    Please explain in what basic details that the FA-50 is "incomplete". As if the current austrian typhoon is "complete" with BVR capability...

    The FA-50 in its native country has been inducted to replace the F-5E, now has been exported to several countries, and has been used in action in middle east and south east asia. And it comes at a price of 1/2 of the gripen c/d.

    Another nation in europe is also looking seriously at the FA-50

    http://www.nacional.hr/juznokorejski...odabir-za-hrz/

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    Iris-t is designed to be fully interchangeable with any platform that is already fully cleared for the sidewinder.
    Yeah but in Sidewinder mode, the full capabilities of the IRIS-T can't be used.

    As for BVR, i don't know of any air policing missions that lets you kill unidentified contacts BVR. But if you need BVR capability
    Bad weather? But doesn't matter, the requirement is for BVR. KAI FA-50 doesn't have BVR so it's not a contender. Austria sure as hell won't be the one integrating BVR missiles ready for 2020 when plenty of options are on the market.

    As for support, this plane has also offered by Lockheed to Poland recently (but beaten by aermacchi). If austria buys it, surely it would be supported from US and korean bases.
    Austria will not be launch customer (in the region) for an exotic plane 1000s of miles away from its manufacturer. This is certainly not the time for experiments, EF T1 already was one.
    Gripen on the other hand is in use with 2 of its neighbour, so...
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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  18. #18
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    Most of the sources only mention the requirement of all weather, day and night capable supersonic fighter armed with missile. No mention of beyond visual range capability.

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    IR missiles are not all weather weapons.


    So, I've read the report and watched the press conference.

    The task force came to the conclusion that supersonic jet fighters are required, armed trainers are not suitable.

    The fighters have to be equipped with effective weapons (meaning IR and radar missiles) and self protection systems. That system needs to be able to detect missile launches and provide active and passive countermeasures.

    They came up with 6 models plus the reference model. Projected life cycle costs for 2020-2049 are shown below:
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    The reference model is what was planned before, i.e. keep the 15 T1 EF and buy 10 advanced jet trainers.
    Variant 1: update the 15 current EFs to latest standards and buy 10 advanced jet trainers.
    Variant 2: update the 15 current EFs, buy 3 additional EF twin seaters, and buy 10 "high efficiency trainers"
    Variant 3: buy 15 new single seat plus 3 new twin seat fighters, and buy 10 "high efficiency trainers"
    Variant 4: update the 15 current EFs to latest standards
    Variant 5: update the 15 current EFs, buy 3 additional EF twin seaters
    Variant 6: buy 15 new single seat plus 3 new twin seat fighters

    Note potential revenue from getting rid of the current T1 fleet is not included.
    Obviously, the models without new trainers would require the outsourcing of more training to foreign air forces. Hence f.e. variant 5 is less expensive than variant 4 because the most expensive part of the training can be done at home.
    Note 4 of the proposed models would keep the current EF fleet. And all the single fleet models i.e. without trainers are thought to be less expensive.
    The task force recommends the (potentially) least expensive options 5 or 6.

    Now, the defence minister decided option 6 is the way to go. Meaning 15+3 new fighters, more training to be outsourced. Not part of this study is the replacement of the PC-7 fleet btw. But the minister said those need to be replaced pretty soon also, with a fleet of "high efficiency trainers".

    But, and here's the but, even though his decision is final, and gov to gov negotiations are beginning now if I understood correctly, that is no contract. To sign the actual purchase contract, a resolution by the council of ministers is required. And there are going to be elections in Austria October the 15th. So no one knows who's going to be in charge later this year. The new gov could overthrow everything.


    My remarks regarding the report: Aside from using Calibri, the obvious usage of Alenia Aermacchi nomenclature for the trainers makes this report look unprofessional. Also, why would they need 10 trainers in options 1,2,3 (3 is my preferred option) when those trainers would not be part of the operational force? 10 trainers for a force of 18 fighters / 36 pilots? 10 trainers is understandable if they need to cover part of the operational needs as in the reference model. So I think the cost of options 1-3 are overrated. Generally, the life cycle costs are not explained properly. What's included? Did they remember a new jet would require a new infrastructure also? Hard to believe really a new type would be that much cheaper than to simply upgrade the T1 fleet. On the other hand, they considered that in the cost projections. The preferred option could very well be 573 Mio. more expensive than the reference model. Also, option 3 with trainers could be way cheaper than option 6. Since this is all based on non binding requests, things could get more expensive pretty quick in the future. Without trainers of their own, Austrian Air Force would be totally dependant on foreign air forces, I wonder what that does to the costs...

    Funny, when asked if the 18 EFs as originally ordered by Austria would fulfill all the requirements and the re-negotiation back then was a bad deal, the minister could not give a clear answer. How could he as it was his party that's responsible for this mess.
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    Thanks for the summary of the report, Eagle.

    How many fighter pilots are trained each year in Austria to keep pilots for 15 fighters, some of which are likely in maintenance at any given point in time? Two pilots a year? If so, running an in house fighter pilot training program seems too expensive. So I agree with Eagle.

    I also agree with Eagle about the costs of keeping tranche 1 Eurofighters. Sure, no one likes the tranche 1s. But Austria has such a low budget for fighter aircraft. Is paying someone to keep making spare parts and tweaking the software each year really that expensive compared to buying 15 or 18 new Gripens?

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    The Austrian defence ministry describes the Tranche 1 Typhoons, which it received between 2005-2008, as possessing “limited equipment and significant cost uncertainty”.
    That statement by the Austrians is almost breathtaking! They were the ones who ran a contest that had an almost absurd list of required features for the winner. They were the ones who decided to down grade the order from Tranche 2 to 1 and then asked for all the defensive aids plus other major avionics from GPS through to radio systems to be stripped out and they have the gall to say that the aircraft has limited equipment!

    Now they are acting all shocked that a twin engine multi role air superiority fighter is expensive to run when all they needed was a supersonic WVR point defence fighter!

    They certainly don't have any particular need for a BVR missile considering they are mainly used to intercept and identify other aircraft. Pretty much every supersonic fighter available on the western market is overkill for their needs. Part of me says the KAI F-50 is spiritually the best fit matched with something like the L-59 as a SAAB-105 replacement but on balance they are probably best going for Gripen C/D as the high end choice. Farm out support and training to Sweden or the other European Gripen operators and carry over their IRIS-T. The Gripen even has the BK27 like Typhoon so they can carry over the ammunition.

    To be honest I don't think the Eurofighter partners should kick up a fuss, Austria always was an awkward customer!
    Last edited by Fedaykin; 9th July 2017 at 20:12.
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    fact is, "they" the austrians seem to have some prpoblems with some of the guys who did it (bribery?)... in any case, to conclude that what they have costs them so much for so little in return that they rather change it altogether right now.. there obviously is a problem

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    by alexz

    Please explain in what basic details that the FA-50 is "incomplete". As if the current austrian typhoon is "complete" with BVR capability...
    the FA/50 is incomplete as it doesn't have the BVR capability.. it is marketged as "it could get it", but the hard fact is: it does not have it today.. and if you hope to get away with it because the Typhoons don't have it either, you should remember first that austrians precisely want to get rid of their typhoons while they just about bought them.. obviously, there's too little value for the money it costs them, so why would they go for a fighter that lacks something they already lack today and want to have?

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    So basically they want what they had in their original Eurofighter contract but then removed for political reasons. They complain about high running cost for a fleet of 15 orphan aircraft, once again of their own making.
    Hopefully they replace the Phoons with an all inclusive package from Saab, similar to the Czech deal.

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    Yep. The Austrians got what they asked for. They got reduced numbers (at increased unit cost) because they asked for it. They got reduced capabilities (less in some respects than the cheaper alternatives that they'd evaluated & rejected as inferior) because that's what they asked for.

    Having a defence minister who seemed hostile to the whole idea of defence didn't help.

    That statement by the Austrians is almost breathtaking! They were the ones who ran a contest that had an almost absurd list of required features for the winner. They were the ones who decided to down grade the order from Tranche 2 to 1 and then asked for all the defensive aids plus other major avionics from GPS through to radio systems to be stripped out and they have the gall to say that the aircraft has limited equipment!

    Now they are acting all shocked that a twin engine multi role air superiority fighter is expensive to run when all they needed was a supersonic WVR point defence fighter!

    They certainly don't have any particular need for a BVR missile considering they are mainly used to intercept and identify other aircraft. Pretty much every supersonic fighter available on the western market is overkill for their needs. Part of me says the KAI F-50 is spiritually the best fit matched with something like the L-59 as a SAAB-105 replacement but on balance they are probably best going for Gripen C/D as the high end choice. Farm out support and training to Sweden or the other European Gripen operators and carry over their IRIS-T. The Gripen even has the BK27 like Typhoon so they can carry over the ammunition.
    I'm sure the Czechs would be willing to negotiate an agreement including access to their trainers (increasing their fleet if needed). They'd probably offer to pool maintenance, as well.
    Last edited by swerve; 9th July 2017 at 22:18.
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    I also agree with Eagle about the costs of keeping tranche 1 Eurofighters. Sure, no one likes the tranche 1s. But Austria has such a low budget for fighter aircraft. Is paying someone to keep making spare parts and tweaking the software each year really that expensive compared to buying 15 or 18 new Gripens?
    It is not just the matter of buying spare parts but also the matter of operational costs. As it is right now using Typhoons, austria is able to only fly them about 1,000 hours per year because of the high cost of Typhoon flying hours. And that eats up budget for more personnels to man the QRA, leaving them to do QRA only in office hours.

    Staying with Typhoons i don't see that they could increase the flying hours, do 24hour QRA and still keep within the current available budget.

    Right now what we know is austria is allocating about 3000 hours annually for air policing, flying both the saab 105 and eurofighter typhoon for the task. Without the saab 105, can austria afford to fly the Typhoon for 3000 hours annually?

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    How many fighter pilots are trained each year in Austria to keep pilots for 15 fighters, some of which are likely in maintenance at any given point in time? Two pilots a year? If so, running an in house fighter pilot training program seems too expensive. So I agree with Eagle.
    Actually I'd prefer if they got some trainers (option 3). As an enthusiast I like some variety But also it could very well be less expensive in the long run. I'm thinking a model like the Swiss AF i.e. a basic trainer, intermediate trainer and then OCU on twin seat fighters. Basic trainer, now the PC-7, could be the Diamond thing if they have a complete system, or PC-9. Intermediate on something like M-345 or L-39NG. Has the advantage of being a jet unlike the PC-21.
    I questioned the need for 10 intermediate trainers for this role. 6 seems about right. That's 18 + 6 jets for 36 Pilots or 1.5 pilots per jet.
    I don't know about the number of pilots in training. But the report says they need/want 36 fighter pilots in the future. Assuming each pilot stays for 8 years, that's 4.5 new pilots per year. Seems way too few for 10 trainers.
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    That statement by the Austrians is almost breathtaking! They were the ones who ran a contest that had an almost absurd list of required features for the winner. They were the ones who decided to down grade the order from Tranche 2 to 1 and then asked for all the defensive aids plus other major avionics from GPS through to radio systems to be stripped out and they have the gall to say that the aircraft has limited equipment!
    Yes. Keep in mind however the government that ordered the EF was not the same that messed up the order later.

    Now they are acting all shocked that a twin engine multi role air superiority fighter is expensive to run when all they needed was a supersonic WVR point defence fighter!
    Apparently, operating cost wasn't even a factor in the decision making process in 2002. Why? Because EF had not reached IOC yet so no numbers were available. So rather than making an educated guess, operating cost was ignored. So on one hand you have EF, on the other hand Gripen, which was offered only 2-6% cheaper. (can't remember exactly) Saab were too confident... But still, would have been ok if they sticked to the original contract. Austria could affort a fleet of 15 EFs easily if they wanted to.

    They certainly don't have any particular need for a BVR missile considering they are mainly used to intercept and identify other aircraft. Pretty much every supersonic fighter available on the western market is overkill for their needs. Part of me says the KAI F-50 is spiritually the best fit matched with something like the L-59 as a SAAB-105 replacement but on balance they are probably best going for Gripen C/D as the high end choice. Farm out support and training to Sweden or the other European Gripen operators and carry over their IRIS-T. The Gripen even has the BK27 like Typhoon so they can carry over the ammunition.
    They said they want all weather capability and self protection gear and whatnot. So pretty high end actually. KAI FA-50 can't offer that.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    Also, why would they need 10 trainers in options 1,2,3 (3 is my preferred option) when those trainers would not be a part of the operational force? 10 trainers for a force of 18 fighters / 36 pilots? 10 trainers is understandable if they need to cover part of the operational needs as in the reference model.
    Right now they are using the saab 105 in air policing duties as a cheaper alternative to flying the typhoon for the task. Probably by keeping the typhoons the new trainer would also needed to do operational tasks like the saab 105 fleet?

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    They said they want all weather capability and self protection gear and whatnot. So pretty high end actually. KAI FA-50 can't offer that.


    The FA-50 already have EL/M- 2032 radar and RWR, chaff/flare dispensers.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by alexz; 9th July 2017 at 23:45.

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