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söndag 11 december 2016

The Swedish model (or how to upgrade on a tight budget)

UPDATED 28/2-2017

The Armed Forces budget proposal answers a gvmt order on how to increase availability on JAS 39 during the induction of JAS 39E. The answer; instead of also using parts from operative C/D fighters as a cost-saving measure in the production of JAS 39E, Sweden will only use parts from the up to 30 older JAS 39A/B that has been stored in strategic reserve. This will enable the military to fly a higher number of C/D fighters until 39E becomes operative.

Sounds like an obvious thing to do but this has always been about money. And as we say here, it's expensive to be poor. In the end, this is a better decision.

Source: Budget 2018.
 
The original blog post:

National Interest published an article by Elisabeth Braw regarding the Swedish Gripen fleet.
This was most recently up for a national debate in August but defence bloggers has raised this topic for many years. The bottom line to this story is a planned move by the Swedish military to reuse some components from its current fleet of Gripen fighters to produce the more advanced Gripen E.

Unfortunately Braw didn't receive any input from people that could properly explain the reasoning behind this process or why flying our older fighters far longer is not cost effective. Dalsjö and Widman on the other hand present some opinions in the article, unfortunately they argue as if those opinions were facts. In the Swedish defence debate Widman is perhaps not the best known politician for factually correct information and often tend to be on the sensationalist side of events.

On a side note, Widman recently claimed in a actual question to the defence minister that it would be no issue what so ever to switch between a RM12 (F404) and a F414 engine on Gripen "depending on the mission". No. Not that easy. He was arguing for GKN to receive a share of the engine support.

So I didn't plan on writing more on this subject as several of us already blogged about it in Swedish. My own entry here, also deep coverage by the skilled and aware Väpnaren and Wiseman.

However, people asked me to comment. I will at least try and write down some of the basics and you can all try to form own opinions. I assume people know about the fighters, but here's about Gripen E.

Background:

SwAF first took delivery of JAS 39A in 1993. It was a unique Swedish solution for Swedish requirements. Current version C/D is internationally adapted in line with new defence policy ambitions and export requirements. Improved electronics, NATO-adapted, air refueling, lower signatures. But same engine. JAS 39C/D will be operative in the SwAF until at least 2027.

The first major upgrade in 30 years for the SwAF fighter fleet will come with Gripen E and first operative squadron 2023. SwAF will operate C/D/E until 2027 when all of the fleet will have converted to E. There is a slim chance D will fly a little bit longer as Sweden has not ordered a twin seat F but if that happens it should be seen as mostly for supporting training of export users.

SwAF Gripen C/D fleet stands at 96 fighters.
2/3 of original production delivered from Saab 2002-2008.
1/3 delivered 2010-2015 as new airframe aircraft but components and structures from decommissioned JAS 39A. A result of the previous larger mixed fleet being reduced but upgraded to "100 C/D"

1/4th of the fleet is actually twin seat 39D and it lacks a gun, is heavier, has less fuel and as such not prefered for many missions. In Operation Unified Protector the entire deployed fleet were single-seaters.

Future:

The military concluded that costs of a C/D upgrade to make those aircraft relevant beyond 2030 and into 2040s for a regional perspective (PAK-FA, ..) were just as high as developing new Gripen E
but without benefits of a new airframe with more fuel and weapons load.

Costs to fly C/D longer include such factors as another development track, component obsolescence,
training, pilots, ground support. Money otherwise possible to spend on for instance additional Gripen E, improved E, more weapons. Or on whatever. Currently the order is for 60 JAS 39E with an air force requirement of around 80. The previous defence commission proposed another 10 but these were not included in the current defence plan. This topic will be addressed in the next defence policy decision for the period 2021+.

Contrary to information in the NI article there were no earlier plan to do a very large upgrade on C/D and keep those airframes. The plan was to build a new fighter Gripen E and reuse some components from A/B/C/D/spares. The saving are quite large when every Krona is important. The number of C/D that will donate components in the production of E  - and when - is not a fixed number, it's also a operative matter and depends on several factors.

Delivery of E will not pick up speed until about 5 years. During fleet conversion the number of actually available C/D and flight hours is not to be too low for what is seen as an operative requirement. For instance the Swedish Air Force has lower flight hour production / aircraft than Czechia. This is being addressed. What is important is how many fighters you can send up not how many you have sitting in hangars.

In a perfect world 39E would enter service before several C/D had to leave the fleet but with defence
expenditure at only 1% of GDP it's the economical choice. And as described above, the idea to keep C/D operative for much longer is even worse. Looking at the age of C/D airframes is totally irrelevant especially when the newest ones are rebuilt A's with some components from the 1990s.

In summary; not imminent but in the future Sweden is in need of a new fighter and to produce some or all of these a number of older fighters will go in and donate a few parts but they will not be chopped up. How many that will go in and when is not readily available information and subject to change. Those that do go in are not exactly "brand new" either, let's remind ourselves that the first 39C were delivered in 2002 and series production of E has not even started. In fact it has not flown.

Headlines are easy - this is a pretty advanced topic but I hope it wasn't all too confusing.

lördag 13 augusti 2016

Om att skrota 97 st splitternya JAS Gripen

Robert Dalsjö argumenterar om hur fel det är att skrota 97 splitternya Gripen-flygplan.
Som jag ser det är grundpoängen god men en del som ej stämmer eller kommer fram.

Snabb kommentar:

Två tredjedelar av maskinparken levererades till FMV under åren 2002-2008.

I huvudsak levererades ensitsare (C) som med bättre prestanda och automatkanon är att föredra för uppdrag än dubbelsitsare (D). Under insatsen i Libyen var det enbart ensitsare som skickades ner.

2009 beslutade regeringen att Flygvapnet kunde bantas till 100 flygplan med enhetlig version C/D. Överlag bättre förmågor och mer anpassad för internationella uppdrag än de A/B som fortfarande var i drift. Pga tilldelad ekonomi och uppdrag ansåg Försvarsmakten detta som bra lösning. Beslutet var politiskt försenat. ÖB lanserade lösningen redan våren 2006.

Modifiering av äldre flygplan till 31 st C/D för att få knappt 100 st C/D genomfördes genom att montera in delar från äldre flygplan i ett nytt skrov. Andelen två-sits utökades.  Det krävs demontering av två äldre flygplan (A) för att bygga en tvåsits (D).

Kostnad för flygplan är ett mångfacetterad ämne men för själva flygplanen i delserie 3 så låg de i snitt en bra bit under 400 miljoner kr enligt FMV. Regeringens budget för ombyggnad till 31 st flygplan var 3,1 miljarder dvs. ca 100 miljoner per skrov. Till det ligger dock en tidigare kostnad för äldre delar.

Kostnad för dagens 97 st flygplan i storleksordningen 30-40 miljarder. Det är internationellt sett låga kostnader för väldigt moderna flygplan och även om de inte ska användas jättelänge så undviker man
då också dyra uppgraderingskostnader som tex F-16 länder genomfört för att hålla flygplanen relevanta.

Vi har istället fört över våra uppgraderingskostnader till ett nytt flygplan (Gripen E) som kostar en bråkdel av vad Amerikanska ersättare till F-16 kostar. Utöver det så har vi väldigt låg driftskostnad. FM tittade även på vad det skulle kosta att uppgradera C till att bli operativt relevant i framtiden och den kostnaden var lika stor som att köpa Gripen E mycket pga högre utvecklingskostnader i delsystem.

Så 97 flygplan som kostat 30-40 miljarder är huvudsakligen levererade 2002-2008. Samt ett 30-tal ombyggda flygplan. Nu har vi även ganska många tvåsits. Vi har beställt 60 st ensits E.

Planen är att använda C/D fram tills E är fullt operativ omkring år 2026-2027. Planen innebär att C/D efter hand går in och delar demonteras ur skrovet för att användas i tillverkningen av 60 st E som kommer levereras i större antal efter 2020. Det ska inte demonteras 97 st flygplan och majoriteten av demonterade flygplan är snarare runt 15 år än "splitternya".

Det är halva åldern på skrovet men inte halva åldern på operativ relevans. Vad som sitter i maskinerna och vår förmåga att få upp dem i luften avgör effekt. Gripen E är vårt första riktiga förmågelyft på stridsflygsidan sedan JAS 39A togs i bruk för 20 år sedan, och det är ännu 10 år till innan E blir fullt operativt. Den här lösningen är som allt annat en kompromiss pga låga anslag. Det är inte korvören det handlar om.

Finns det inte pengar så finns det inte. Det är inte heller något man löser i en handvändning.
Hela organisationen är så tunn att den inte klarar av att fullt utnyttja de flygplan vi har idag
så en omställning behöver inte påverka operativ förmåga så mycket som man kan tro.
Vårt flygtidsuttag är lågt i snitt per maskin jämförelsevis tex Tjeckien.

Att tala om 97 flygplan är därför något ovärt då det är förmågan att få upp operativt relevanta flygplan som spelar roll för vår effekt. Det finns många aspekter. Baskydd, personal, uppdragsutrustning, reservdelar m.m.

Det hade dock varit att föredra att först få leverans av helnya E och börja ta C ur tjänst när E är dugligt operativ. Det kan fortfarande vara en lösning. Nästa steg att föredra enligt min åsikt är en utökad beställning av E - som försvarsberedningen redan rekommenderat.

Det är snart dags att börja säga farväl till C/D men att göra det så smart som möjligt.

/ Signatory

Läs även J.K "Väpnaren" blogginlägg "Dalsjö i diket".

Tillägg 15/8:
Att vi i stället som tex Nato-landet Norge köpt på oss fler flygplan och delserier (men färre än ursprungligen planerat) och att vi 2009 beställde ombyggnad till 31 st fler C/D ska man inte enbart skylla på en förekomst av inhemsk industri. Vi hade planerat minst lika stora inköp från USA om vi inte valt svenska flygplan.

Till saken hör att vi ej har varit med i Nato och valt svenska särlösningar. På basorg, på flygplan, överallt. Våra JAS 39A/B hade även kortare livslängd i skroven så hade vi inte tagit fram C/D hade vi fått ta upp frågan om nya flygplan ännu tidigare. C/D har förlängt relevansen i Gripen-systemet och det gör vi även med E. Vi bygger vidare på den investeringen då grunden är betald, s.k "sunk costs".

Det Norge kunde göra var att köpa en Nato-anpassad lösning men de har fått uppgradera och modifiera över tid för att hålla dem ganska relevanta och flygande (idag är inte ens hälften operativa då de flesta står på service.) men glöm inte att Norge är en del av det kollektiva försvaret som totalt sett är utrustat med något av det bästa jakt och attackflyg som finns, i stor skala.  Vi är ensamma.

Det andra är politiska omsvängningar och försvarsnedläggningar som lett till att vi plötsligt inte ansågs behöva alla flygplan av äldre typ utan vi behövde färre flygplan för "den nya tiden". Nato-anpassade och anpassade för export och samövningar. Vi hade dock beställt för få sådana flygplan och Tjeckien fick dessutom leasa 14 st. Så ja då behövdes det en ombyggnad för att få några fler flygplan.

Om vi kunde backa bandet och vara efterkloka så skulle vi kanske byggt en mer Nato-anpassad lösning från början men det sattes inte i kraven. Då hade vi möjligen klarat oss med att bara skrota flygplan under nedläggningsåren istället för att betala utveckling & modifiering av gamla till nya.

Men det hade inte heller löst den ekonomiska realiteten som innebär att flygplan måste demonteras eller den realitet som innebär att C/D inte är operativt relevant för oss om ca 10 år utan mycket stora utvecklingsinvesteringar som ändå inte ger en fullgod lösning.

Vi är på rätt väg nu men det krävs ekonomiskt tillskott för att det ska bli så bra som möjligt.

onsdag 18 maj 2016

My interview with Saab on the new Gripen


video


It's May 18 and Saab is well into writing a new chapter as fighter manufacturer with the roll-out of the first new aircraft in the Gripen next generation programme

The new test aircraft 39-8 revealed today will soon be followed by two more aircraft. First by "39-9" for development and verification of the tactical systems and then "39-10" for final verification of the airframe and systems. One earlier proof-of-concept airframe (39-7) has flown since 2008. Saab also employs a static test rig (39-083).

Saab has adopted the term "evolution" to describe generational leaps taken by the Gripen system.
In short the new E-version can take on more loads, fly longer, and act smarter. In terms of load and range Gripen E now comes closer to more heavier competitors but still retains a relatively low price. For example a capacity to carry up to seven Beyond Visual Range missiles while Gripen C supports four of them.

Though visually quite similar to current Gripen aircraft the E-version is designed for operations in a 2025- environment. As summed up by the Swedish Air Chief "the stated purpose of Gripen E is for us to have a functioning and strong air defence after 2025 - and until at least 2045".
 
The following is my interview with Saab. Answers were a team effort of the Gripen organisation. Note: I'm not a journalist and my English is not the best. I'm just a guy who enjoy airplanes.

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Gripen E 39-8 Photo: Saab AB

Intro: Congratulations on the Gripen evolution event. Six years ago one of your competitors briefed journalists on how they predicted the fighter market 2020+. They assumed Gripen would be gone. 

Since then Saab has secured contracts for 96 newly developed Gripen aircraft from two countries taking Saabs production backlog to one of the highest among western fighters and a span only second to that of the F-35. With some of the competition fading away and other western alternatives being both heavier and more costly, opportunities for Gripen seem better than ever.

Q: Is Saab observing a whole new perception of Gripen with this change in market position?

A: The Gripen E order from Sweden, together with Brazil’s order of Gripen NG, solidifies and expands Saabs opportunities on the world market. In fact, these recent events has fundamentally changed the dynamics of the global fighter market in favour of Gripen. This means that Saab are no longer a margin player and we see an increasing interest in all regions from the Americas to Asia.
 

Here its crucial to add that Gripen C/D and Gripen E will live in parallel for many years to come. Gripen C/D is the backbone of several air forces today and will continue to be so coming years with new upgrades. Therefor we foresee several new C/D customers as well. Our target is to sell more than 400-450 Gripen’s over the coming 20 years, and with the new system, the only one of its kind, we firmly believe we will reach that. One of our strategic goals is to present Gripen as the preferred “smart” choice when replacing aging fighter fleets.

Q: Saab is talking about Gripen as being the "smart fighter" - which we can hear more about in one of your videos.  How is this 'smart' concept being received in a market so dominated by U.S rhetoric centered around '5th gen' and 'stealth'?

A: Gripen is a highly versatile multirole platform and one of its missions is interdiction in a highly contested airspace. However, Gripen is more focused on using a smart approach in packs, advanced EW systems and the deployment of standoff weapons instead of being reliant on stealth, as some as its competitors,  when it comes to  taking out advanced enemy air defences. 

It is also smart in being able to add on new technologies when arising quickly and very cost efficient, keeping the system continuously up to date meeting arising threat and capability demand.

Q: What kind of technology and tactics will actually enable Gripen fighters to handle new threats such as the latest Russian fighters with large nose radars and reduced radar signatures? 

A: What kind of tactics that can be used against a potential threat Saab will never discuss of obvious reasons, it’s our customers most precious secret. What Saab does, however, is to offer and deliver products and solutions that meet the needs and demands from these customers. When it comes to Gripen its an aircraft built to fly, fight and survive in the most hostile threat environments. It’s a genuine multi-role swing-role fighter equipped with sophisticated datalinks, radar and other sensors, plus an electronic warfare suite that are the best in the world.

Q: Recently Finland issued a RFI (Request For Information) and with that Saab released a new promotional video. Although still early in that process could you talk a little bit about how Saab will approach and support this tender? 

A: We believe we have a very attractive offer meeting the needs of a Nordic air force like the Finnish. Gripen is easily deployed with a small logistic footprint, optimized for short turn-around time and dispersed air bases concept. It is a mature and proven product, in operational service with several air forces. It is designed for continuous upgrades in order to keep the system up to date and equipped with latest technology throughout the life-cycle. 

With that, Saab see a very interesting opportunity for Gripen when Finland will replace its F/A-18 Hornets. We look forward to the upcoming process and will do our utmost to show how Gripen can meet Finland's operational needs. We feel confident that we have a strong offer that we will present for the RFI (Request for Information) that was received recently.

Q: In theory, money saved on a less expensive fighter could increase overall military capability by investing savings into other units such as on new radars better able to detect stealthy objects. But we have also seen examples of governments for strategic, technical or offset reasons to simply reduce fighter numbers in order to fit more costly machines within a budget. With more militaries feeling the squeeze of tighter budgets will governments give more attention to the whole picture or how is Saab otherwise trying to utilize this "economy role" of Gripen?

A: At a time when the acquisition and operating costs for competing aircraft are rising relentlessly, Gripen makes modern air forces viable - because tails matter, an air force is worthless if it cannot generate and sustain sufficient assets to be effective. Gripen’s cost-effectiveness allows an air force to acquire and operate a significant number of aircraft; meaning that the air force stays relevant and effective, and the nation has a defence that is credible. 


With Gripen, costs are clear at the outset, and predictable throughout the lifecycle. Gripen typically comes as a full package of aircraft, equipment, training and support. This smooths the entry-into-service process but also avoids the surprise costs that frequently trip up other aircraft acquisitions. Gripen is unique in offering a range of flexible procurement options – and it adapts to work with your existing military technology and communications systems, saving yet more money to spend on other priorities. Gripen is versatile, reliable and cost-effective: protecting citizens, the defence budget and the wider finances of the entire nation.

Q: Now that a two-seater Gripen NG is under development with Brazil has more countries expressed interest in this type? Do you see the two-seater as also offering new tactical benefits other than just being a training vehicle?

A:  A two seater version of Gripen NG is in development for delivery to the Brazilian customer and in the future also for other customers. The development is performed together with the Brazilian partner industries, Embraer, AEL, Akaer and Atech and is progressing according to plan.

The future air operations have requirements of enhanced capabilities to meet the future threats, one area is electronic warfare. In addition, the two-seater has the following mission capabilities: The aircraft’s enhanced avionics, wide area display, sensor systems and communication suite data-link together enable a wide range of tactical roles to be performed from the rear-seat. These may include weapons system officer, dedicated electronic warfare operator and mission commander. Upon customer request this could be further developed.


Brazil's F-39 Gripen cockpit

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I would like to thank Saab for this interview and especially communications manager Sofia Thulin,  For verification of these answers contact Saabs Twitter social media unit.

/ Signatory GripenNews

Source video: FAB 
Further reading:  
Daily Beast: The Planet’s Best Stealth Fighter Isn’t Made in America
The National Interest: The JAS-39 Gripen: Sweden's Cheap (and Deadly) Fighter Plane
Gizmag : Saab rolls out latest-generation Gripen E fighter

onsdag 2 mars 2016

Graf: Försvarsmaterielexporten 2004-2015

Detta är en uppdatering till förra årets inlägg om försvarsmaterielexporten. Exporten fortsätter att gå ner men en ökning kan ske framöver i och med ett par stora exportavtal som Saab AB bokfört under året. Om det blir så återstår att se och leveranserna är då uppdelade över flera år med riktig start först om några år.

81 procent av den svenska exporten 2015 gick till EU och EES-länder samt till etablerade samarbetsländer som Kanada, Sydkorea och USA. ISP pressmeddelande.

Inflationsjusterad graf i miljarder kr

Årlig uppgift - ej inflationsjusterad