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Thread: Switzerland re-lauches fighter replacement programme

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    Switzerland re-lauches fighter replacement programme

    This time the fighter replacement programme is intended to replace both F-5 and F-18 aircraft.

    New aircraft under consideration include the Airbus Eurofighter, Dassault's Rafale, Saab's Gripen, the F/A-18 Super Hornet from Boeing and Lockheed Martin's F-35A, according to the March 23 list of requirements published by the defense department.
    Swiss officials want to protect an area of 15,000 square kilometers with ground-based weapons, which is more than one-third of the country. They also seek to intercept targets up to 12 kilometers high and 50 kilometers away.

    The envisioned concept of operations dictates that a fleet of roughly 40 aircraft will intercept those targets outside of the ground weapons’ range.
    The ministry wants to purchase a single plane type under a “one-fleet policy.”
    https://www.defensenews.com/land/201...-2030-program/

    If Switzerland is looking for commonality economies to me the single aircraft most suited in performance and cost to replace both F-5 and F-18 is Gripen E. I don't see how any of the other contenders can approach the procurement cost of Gripen E, nor the operating cost.
    Sum ergo cogito

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    It will be a tough run for the Gripen. Even if great care has dictated the redaction of this Document to not discriminate any competitor, the fact that the classic Hornet is now to be replaced invite bidder to submit an airplane with greater overall performances... Something that wasn't an evidence during the former competition with the Gripen.

    It is not all about of being cheap. The doc emphasizes fleet effectiveness by identifying target points with full freedom left to the bidder to draw their proposal around. Since six month of spare and system self-sustainmement are required, no sunken cost would be left hidden (6 month is a lot of spare and Maintenance in time of conflict). Add the clear depiction of a tender cleared of all the unknown of ToT discussed behind closed door (it's clear to me that they might have watched closely what did happen abroad) and this looks like an open competition where fleet effectiveness will determine most of the outcomes.

    As a side note, including the Tiger fleet replacement here would means that the ease of conversion from trainer to Combat squadron will play a big role. The tradition of w.e warrior has an impact here.
    Last edited by TomcatViP; 2nd April 2018 at 18:56.

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    Official media release, in english even: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/do...-id-70209.html

    NFK is not really a replacement for both the F-5E and F-18C. The F-5s will be retired before NFK enters service. Already, the previous 3 F-5 squadrons have been merged into a single sqn. And although the requirements do not specify an exact number of aircraft (a good move imho), the budget will be enough for only 30-40 jets. 34 Hornets have been acquired, so...


    Quote Originally Posted by TomcatViP View Post
    It will be a tough run for the Gripen. Even if great care has dictated the redaction of this Document to not discriminate any competitor, the fact that the classic Hornet is now to be replaced invite bidder to submit an airplane with greater overall performances... Something that wasn't an evidence during the former competition with the Gripen.
    It has already been decided which airplanes will be included in the evaluation: EF Typhoon, JAS 39E, Rafale, F-18E, F-35A. No word about the exact model i.e. twin seaters yes/no. I really wish they would be more specific... and get the nomenclature right.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomcatViP View Post
    As a side note, including the Tiger fleet replacement here would means that the ease of conversion from trainer to Combat squadron will play a big role. The tradition of w.e warrior has an impact here.
    The Tiger fleet hasn't been used in the conversion role for a long time now. If by w.e warrior you mean weekend warriors i.e. militia pilots flying the Tiger, pretty sure those days will be over soon. As said, this is not a Tiger replacement. TTE i.e. Gripen in 2012 would have been, but even then, it was not clear if milita pilots would ke kept on a Gripen/Hornet fleet.

    That being said, the conversion trainer role will have to be considered in this evaluation... One of the contestants doesn't offer a twin seater and Swiss AF doesn't have an advanced jet trainer. To go from PC-21 directly to F-35 seems like a big step to me...
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    not so much. Most new trainee converting to 35 have gone through accelerated cursus and are now said to often overmatch experienced F-15 pilots in combined exercise. A great emphasis was put on this by LM and the USAF.

    But wouldn't it be counter-productive and quite unpopular to cut militia from actively flying fighter jets?
    Last edited by TomcatViP; 29th March 2018 at 22:20.

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    A T-38 is not a PC-21...

    Most people probably don't know about militia pilots and thus don't care. More popular things were cut like military horses - mostly anway.
    Part time fighter pilots worked well when the air force had several hundred relatively simple aircraft.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
    Yngwie Malmsteen

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    A T-38 is not a PC-21...
    totally agree

    several hundred relatively simple aircraft
    New plane are ideally made to be... simple. The emphasis is put on mastering, not the control command, nor the systems but on how to manage the tactical picture. Hence a range of mission stays at reach for any part-time pilots, given that they have access to the proper training: Defensive A2A or CAS for exemple.

    F-35 will be fielded by the ANG pursuing such tradition. I am sure that this would be in the hindsight of some other country.

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    It will be interesting to see which standard of each aircraft is going to be evaluated. Talking of what I know, mid-2020 coincides with the entry of service of the rafale F4 standard with full GaN radar (with conformal antennas), GaN EW, new datalink, new irst, HMS, etc which would makes it a serious contender. Timing is important beacuse you have to get the right balance between "mature" and "new".

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    Rafale's main issue remains the high cost.

    F-35 main issue could be the perception that it is an offensive platform. However another issue of the F-35 could be high operational costs.

    SH may have a better balance between capabilities and costs. My guess is, it may meet the requirements, and will be cheaper.

    If Gripen E meet the requirements, it will however remain the most attractive choice due to lower costs.

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    Not sure why Rafale main issue is high cost ? Compared to Gripen yes, but not compared to the rest of the competition. Its price is appropriate for a medium weight western fighter. Similar to SH actualy. However the latter might struggle in some AtA scenario as the baseline is the regular hornet which has better acceleration than SH.
    Like you I don't see the Swiss going for the F35 despite its merits > no need to penetrate sophisticated AD on day one and some emphasis on sky policing.
    For me it is Rafale vs Gripen E most probably with the Typhoon as an outsider.

    Gripen E will always have the advantage on costs, but as the Swiss are looking to replace F18 and not only F5, and given the "weight" of the competition that will be going throug technical evaluations, it might look as if it lacks a little bit of punch.

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    How much Rafale F4 will be produced. At what rate... Given the extra cost to bring the 36 Indian F3 Mark S (for Something) to their advanced standard, it will be hard to believe that 40 F4 would cost much less thatn what we have guessed for the total per airframe (doing so by discarding some generous share on unknown technology transfert).
    Let's be realistic one minute at least:
    - Hundred++ of Hornet III
    - Hundred of Typhoon AESA + ground
    - Thousands of F-35A
    - Hundreds of F-35B

    You don't have to kill the economist in you to pick the right assumption
    Last edited by TomcatViP; 30th March 2018 at 15:04.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spitfire9 View Post
    I don't see how any of the other contenders can approach the procurement cost of Gripen E, nor the operating cost.
    Isn't the Gripen E supposed to be around $85 million each? That puts it pretty close to the other aircraft.

    Operating cost depends wildly on what assumptions are being used and what's being included so it's difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons.

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    Isn't the Gripen E supposed to be around $85 million each? That puts it pretty close to the other aircraft.
    I think the flyaway cost of Super Hornet might be lower than Gripen E but in referring to procurement cost I was thinking more along the lines that Gripen E + the support, equipment and spares required to get it into service would be lower than any of the alternatives.

    Operating cost depends wildly on what assumptions are being used and what's being included so it's difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons.
    Sure, but the twins are going to cost more to fly per hour as will F-35A. I read a few days ago that projected F-35 operating costs were sufficiently high for USAF to consider cutting their proposed number, viz

    An internal Air Force analysis has warned the service may have to cut its purchases of F-35s by about a third if it can’t find ways to slash the price-tag to operate and support the fighter jets by as much as 38 percent over a decade, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday. The shortfall could compel the Air Force to subtract 590 of the fighter jets from the 1,763 it plans to order, the assessment found.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-major-concern

    The assessment is queried by the head of the USAF but nevertheless it indicates that F-35 sustainment costs are high.
    Sum ergo cogito

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    One thing I find remarkable is that it's the F-35A that is being offered - apart from the lack of an internal gun (for Axalp purposes ) and higher cost, the B-model would bring some interesting capabilities to the table for Switzerland. Despite the significant penalty compared to the A-variant, internal fuel fraction actually remains pretty damn good for a STOVL aircraft (comparable to the Eurocanards), so range should be sufficient for Swiss needs. Just goes to show how among the three versions the B is the "original F-35" (the one which drove most of the design), I guess!

    AFAIK Switzerland came close to considering the Harrier for ground attack early on, but ruled it out because it was not yet in production at the time.

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    yeah and why would Switzerland need the Rafale's capabilities?
    you could also argue that the Hornet itself wasn't really needed.

    its also wrong to see the Gripen as the next F-5, and the Rafale as the next Hornet.

    The Gripen has far more range.. both flying and radar. It could easily do what the Hornet did.
    Rafale is obviously even more so, but does such a small country that has a neutral foreign policy need such offensive capabilities? probably not.

    they should learn the follies of Austria's typhoons.

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    you should read swiss evaluations.. the gripen C couldn't perform some of the tests because of lack of bingo fuel before finishing, which is why it scored insufficiently. Now the Gripen E should have more endurance, but while on paper it looks good, one should see what it gives in reality (which the swiss most certainly will check)

    what I'm curious about is how they will test the F-35, as there are no two seaters and I doubt they qualify a pilot of a foreign nation to fly it solo just for testing purposes. On the other hand, taking for granted the paper data for the F-35, while testing the others, leads straight to court action from other contenders and disqualification of the whole process...
    Last edited by TooCool_12f; 1st April 2018 at 22:58.

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    @ Trident: range of the Bee should be sufficient*

    Name:  USASwizerland.jpg
Views: 965
Size:  103.7 KB




    *Superimposed map of Switzerland in purple...
    Last edited by TomcatViP; 1st April 2018 at 22:54.

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    it's the difference between paper range and real range... on paper the gripen C/D is given 800km (on wiki), which should be a lot more than necessary for the swiss needs (largest straight distance is west-east ~350km), and yet, they were bingo fuel before completing an interception mission...

    let's wait for tests and to see what's included in different offers before starting to say that this or that aircraft is the best choice for them

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    not so much. Most new trainee converting to 35 have gone through accelerated cursus and are now said to often overmatch experienced F-15 pilots in combined exercise
    Not reall yif you read between lines. F15 pilot said they beat F-35 "sometimes" means a lot and is no surprise.

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    Not reall yif you read between lines. F15 pilot said they beat F-35 "sometimes" means a lot and is no surprise.
    No surprise if you are Halloweene and tend to interpret every piece of news about the F-35 in a negative light .... "Sometimes" means sometimes, as in every aircraft loses in DACT. It can come down to pilot experience, or poor tactics, and "sometimes" luck.

    I am going to guess your favorite pastime is fishing, because you've become an expert at trolling.

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    Considering the troll answer rate, i must be an expert. This report isn't shocking at all. It simply debunks the near impunity previously described.... I wouldn't be shocked if F-35 did win sometimes also. F-15 is a good air superiority fighter and F-35 is not invincible (its main role isn't air superiority after all). What tend make me troll is sentences as see sometimes such as "phenix of all non TVC" or it is "at least as good in high AoA as F-18 and F-16 STR (in fact it should be only in the same realm) etc.

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    With a stated 50deg AoA, it will more appropriate to say "equally good" in pitch and in overall "vastly superior" (the plane keep full authority in yaw at that angle when the SH, the greatest in that domain until now, see its rudders gradually locked until being fully restricted at that angle.

    50deg is the best achievable AoA of any fielded fighter b/w.

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    It simply debunks the near impunity previously described....
    It does neither and nor did the previous reports. Perhaps you are referring to the Operational assessment conducted by the USAF using the F-35As and F-15Es. If so, that was to test the combat effectiveness of the aircraft and the weapons system. What the current article is describing is pitting rookie pilots, and their freshly minted F-35s against seasoned veterans and their F-15Cs in BFM, which would be only one aspect of the overall assessment of combat effectiveness. F-15s also beat the F-22s in BFM on some occasions as have T-38s. You win some, you loose some and you obtain no definitive results in others. This is what mostly happens when you practice BFM and DACT. That has absolutely no bearing on the relative comparison of those platforms to the F-22s as far as combat/WS efficacy is concerned and the same applies to the F-35 and F-15.
    Old radar types never die; they just phased array

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    One thing I find remarkable is that it's the F-35A that is being offered - apart from the lack of an internal gun (for Axalp purposes ) and higher cost, the B-model would bring some interesting capabilities to the table for Switzerland. Despite the significant penalty compared to the A-variant, internal fuel fraction actually remains pretty damn good for a STOVL aircraft (comparable to the Eurocanards), so range should be sufficient for Swiss needs. Just goes to show how among the three versions the B is the "original F-35" (the one which drove most of the design), I guess!
    Of course it's the F-35A and it's not remarkable at all. You give some reasons yourself (highlighted).
    The B is basically an A with much more moving parts instead of fuel. Not only does that increase procurement cost, but also operating cost. Nice.
    And why on earth should Switzerland be the only country to operate STOVL jets for air defence? Because it's small? Other countries are small too.

    At least you didn't suggest basing the B in Geneva, close to France. So that French commuters don't have a long drive

    Just to be clear: The new jets will be based at Payerne. And another "secret base". So I guess they're gonna close Meiringen...
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    The only really pertinent factor among those is cost though. Internal gun - is the pod really that much of a nuisance? It even offers the opportunity of not purchasing a gun for every aircraft. Range? I never quite got the point of the apparently quite severe range requirement that the C-model Gripen (built to the needs of a country several times the size of Switzerland) had a hard time matching - just because something's a requirement doesn't mean it makes sense (as the non-B versions of the F-35 quite graphically demonstrate). Quite apart from the fact that from a conventional take-off the F-35B should just about meet any range specification that the Typhoon or Rafale can.
    Last edited by Trident; 2nd April 2018 at 22:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    Quite apart from the fact that from a conventional take-off the F-35B should just about meet any range specification that the Typhoon or Rafale can.
    No it certainly does not, far from it.
    Specifically the Rafale outranges every single fighter south of a strike eagle or SU34 by a fair margin, this includes Dave A/C, SH, Typhoon, Mig35 or Viper with the CFT and externals. The gallic jet can carry an awfull lot of external fuel for its size/weight.

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    The impression I get is the reason that they are proposing a single type fleet with a contest that will replace the Hornet and the Tiger is to head off disruption from the increasingly powerful "Group for a Switzerland Without an Army" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_...ithout_an_Army they were the ones who got enough support for a referendum on the Gripen purchase and I am certain they could get enough again to try and stop this purchase through another referendum. By making it a contest to switch to a single new type it in effect makes it a referendum on having offensive combat jets at all. I would presume the Swiss MOD and Airforce will be hoping that the average Swiss voter will baulk at that and vote it through.
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    Add to this the combination of ADS and fighter jets. If any referendum there is, it would be hard for them to campaign for something that will ask Swiss to put their defense down and stand naked at the times we live... Not even in Switzerland*.
    Last edited by TomcatViP; 3rd April 2018 at 14:38.

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    A bit like what happened with the referendum to stop Swiss national service, the average Swiss voter baulked at the idea and it was headed off. The win in the Gripen referendum for the 'Group for a Switzerland Without an Army' set an unfortunate precedent.
    Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    The only really pertinent factor among those is cost though.
    Cost is a pretty important issue though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    Internal gun - is the pod really that much of a nuisance? It even offers the opportunity of not purchasing a gun for every aircraft.
    Gun is useful for air policing. The pod is an additional hassle. The opportunity of not purchasing a gun for every aircraft? You sound like an accountant

    Quote Originally Posted by Trident View Post
    Range? I never quite got the point of the apparently quite severe range requirement that the C-model Gripen (built to the needs of a country several times the size of Switzerland) had a hard time matching - just because something's a requirement doesn't mean it makes sense (as the non-B versions of the F-35 quite graphically demonstrate). Quite apart from the fact that from a conventional take-off the F-35B should just about meet any range specification that the Typhoon or Rafale can.
    It's not max. range, but combat radius on an intercept mission where the Gripen comes short. Basically flying on full afterburners from take off until target has been intercepted. That's where having a low fuel fraction really hurts. F-35B is still around the same as Gripen E though, but less than Rafale/EF. Plus those two can perform reasonably well while carrying drop tanks.
    The other issue is endurance. The required 24/7 CAP for 4 weeks would require more of the short legged planes. Gripen E at least can carry lots of external fuel.

    These are all cons, where are the pros? Why have more expensive jets with higher maintenance needs and less performance? But its a moot points as only the F-35A is on the table
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fedaykin View Post
    The impression I get is the reason that they are proposing a single type fleet with a contest that will replace the Hornet and the Tiger is to head off disruption from the increasingly powerful "Group for a Switzerland Without an Army" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_...ithout_an_Army they were the ones who got enough support for a referendum on the Gripen purchase and I am certain they could get enough again to try and stop this purchase through another referendum. By making it a contest to switch to a single new type it in effect makes it a referendum on having offensive combat jets at all. I would presume the Swiss MOD and Airforce will be hoping that the average Swiss voter will baulk at that and vote it through.
    The reason they propose a single typ fleet is the Tiger won't be replaced or rather (since the Tiger doesn't have an active combat role anymore) the Swiss AF will not grow to a 50+ active fleet. For 30-40 jets to be acquired at the same time, a mixed fleet would be senseless.
    One could argue it was not the GSoA who got enough support to win the Gripen referendum, but the deciding factor where those who opposed Gripen for not being good enough, while generally those people are pro military.

    I agree though it's an all or nothing vote, including SAMs, so a "No" would mean the end of Swiss air defence. Hard to imagine even hardcore infantry only people (of which there are many) would want that.
    Last edited by eagle; 3rd April 2018 at 18:06.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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