Why which Warplane?

Brazil has just done a deal with SAAB of Sweden for some 36 fighter jets at a cost of 4.5 billion dollars. That works out to some 125 million dollars per plane. The SAAB Gripen NG is an impressive fighter jet. It is also rumoured that the NSA spying on Brazil figured in to this decision. Details are here.

You will remember that Canada was going to purchase the F-35 being developed (to use a euphemism) in the United States. Apparently the F-35 was going to cost five times the original estimate, at $600 million per plane. You can read all (actually only some, it’s a big fiasco) about that fiasco here.

One question we might ask our government: if the Gripen is such a good plane, especially the NG version, why don’t we consider it? There’s a neat article on this question here. Sure, it’s on a blog, but it is well researched and clearly written.

Now for the dumb questions:

Why did the federal government of Canada decide on the F-35? US pressure? Reflexive agreement with the US administration?

Why did it take so long, and such obvious technical difficulties, plus delays and cost overruns, for that federal government to decide to drop the purchase?

In the last page hot-linked above you will find these quotes:

With an upgraded engine producing 20% more power than previous versions, the Saab Gripen NG will easily match previous versions’ top speed of mach 2.  This makes it faster than Canada’s current CF-18 (mach 1.8), and way faster than the F-35 (mach 1.6).

If modern air combat dictates using advanced, long range missiles, then logic dictates we should equip the very best.  Oddly enough, the F-35 doesn’t.  Designed around the American AMRAAM medium range missiles, the F-35 doesn’t have much “wiggle room” for mounting larger, longer range missiles.  The Gripen, which mounts its missiles externally, doesn’t have this problem,  Its compatible with just about any weapon or bomb used by NATO countries, and should continue to be so.

Enemy detection shouldn’t be a problem for the Gripen NG, equipped with an AESA radar, infrared search and track system (IRST), forward looking infrared (FLIR), and a helmet mounted display similar to the F-35’s.

What about the F-35’s data link?  Well…  Turns out Saab actually pioneered the use of data links in the 60’s with the Saab Draken.  Newer Saab jets have continued to update its use, and currently the Saab Gripen is compatible with the LINK 16 standard used in NATO.  Information can be instantly exchanged between the Gripen and all friendly units.

The blog page is quite knowledgeable on the Gripen and has much more than just these quotes.

Is it really dead? If the Americans give us Canucks some sort of deal/pressure combination, will we change our ‘mind’?

Why is the suggestion to do an open look at what’s available, not being followed? In the

Dumb question time again: Is the government of Canada just stalling? in the Globe page you will find these words:

Ottawa formally announced Wednesday it’s now shopping around to see if alternatives to the F-35 better meet its needs as a replacement for the aging CF-18 Hornets. The government has acknowledged, however, that it could again decide the F-35 is best for the job. “We’re undertaking a full-options analysis and the F-35 is obviously one of those options,” Ms. Ambrose told reporters.

Still, the government is holding off calling for open bids to build the plane – as opposition parties are demanding – saying they’ll wait for an options analysis led by the Royal Canadian Air Force first.

I’ll bet we Canadians F-35 ourselves one more time. Comments, anyone?


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