posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:43 AM
I /seriously/ doubt that the Danes will take 76 JAS or anything like that number. Last I heard, the Swedes themselves were looking at as few as 130
jets and have sales-pitched the airframe around the world as a means to do all missions (including such 'peacetime' activities as border recce and
ELINT) from just a few bases and/or CAP orbits per nation.
In point of truth, given the failure of the EU Constitution effort, I think that you are looking at a scenario somewhere between an independent
contract security organization (possibly regionally/ethnically as a Nordic type op which effectively militarizes a Panavia/Eurofighter production
arm). Or a movement towards passivism in trade for lead-country Continental dominance by a Franco-German or similar association of states.
NATO is the one thing standing in the way of this as there are several clauses to the treaty which prevent independent operational communities within
the overall Alliance.
However the expansion of treaty authority to external actions outside of Europe. Along with the various idiocies we've gotten ourselves mired in as
'moral leaders of the free world oppression league' have opened the door to some /major/ changes in the way the Charter is set up to operate.
Changes which will become defacto inevitable when we pull out of Germany in the next few years.
In terms of quality of replacement value, frankly, the JAS is no better and in some ways worse than the F-16 in every major area including readily
available sensor suites, EW, thrust and radius for tankage and multiple weapons options (all of which more or less match or exceed the Swedish jet, to
There are differences of course. Last I heard, the JAS was down around 2,000 dollars per flight hour while the F-16C.50 was averaging about 3,600 and
older models went as high as 5 grande (MLU may have changes this somewhat if there was a Falcon Up/CUPID type structural mod). Similarly
multinationalization of items like Meteor, ASRAAM, IRIS-T and LITENING will /eventually/ give the Gripen better SSPK options on the A2A end than a
purely-American driven 'budget buys in bulk' ordnance menu.
If the U.S. really wanted to compete with Europe on the light end of the market we would have bought off (buyed-in to) the UAE Blk.60 R&D
ammortization and be selling the resulting F-16E as a 132/232 powered jet with AVEN/PBBN and AESA for about 20 million as a part of our own
downsize/reequipment emphasis on a _NON LO_ homeland defense capability.
This would match the JAS, easily, for baseline flyaway price (when I was reading AvLeak in the early nineties, this was already 42 million for the A/B
model) and provide the airshow sex appeal of a jet that could do everything the Su-35 could at about 1/20th of the price.
Of course 'our model' would likely include terminal defense interceptors for radar weapons and DIRCM for heatshots and everyone would politely turn
their heads and cough when it came time to justify the aircraft's real capabilities (as a penetrating strike airframe) with some nonsense argument
about multi-on-multi JDAM vs. Fighter-Cruise 'D1/R1' standoffs.
But the fact remains that while they are not as sexy as the 'new' (20 years old) Gripens, the Viper is fully as capable of day to day intercept and
sovereignity mission tasking and in many of it's gee-whiz (useless physical performance modifier) subsystems and LO modification could actually be
made rather superior.
IF we were interested in selling it as an old lamp in the Genie age of stealth.
I must admit that I am biased. I think that the Swedes took a good, basic, design for a followon attack jet (to replace the SK.60 as much as Viggen)
and then oversold it based on some rather poor design trades and configurational choices which were clearly no longer appropriate or necessary (LDSD
makes STOL moot for instance) and ended up with an under fractioned, underpowered, overly draggy final moldline which is STILL utterly dependent on
the weapons suite to determinatively make the grade as a short range fighter.
That said, I am and always have been an interested admirer in their ability to configure network based multiaperture, multi-command level systems on a
budget and I believe that they could really do something with a JAS-39 (or S-100 mod) airframe designed to function as a combat controller for
'real' warfighter UCAVs.
The problem is that Sweden is still a tiny nation and as the cost of integrating the various features of a modern combat system have gone up, so too
have their force restructuring vs. five-year swing plan (Army Leopards, Navy Frigate/Subs, AF Fighter/STRIL upgrades) economics fallen short of the
truly massive cuts needed to finance the next-best-thing for export.
I think they have missed the opening now and at best can only lumpsum add their efforts to the giant EADS efforts which will almost certainly be C4ISR
and prime-integrator dominanted by French and German design teams with the most political muscle in the EU.
Neutrality hurt the Swedes, badly, in establishing themselves as a Euro power in their own right and now that they have decided to export like
everyone else, they have too much old-school leverage to defeat.
Even as SAAB's marketing ties through BAe will come to be seen as a handicap when the Brits come prodigalling back to the Continent after JSF blows
up in everyone's faces.