Saturday, 9 March 2013

Why the Gripen (and not the F-35) could be the fighter for the 21st century.

Artist's rendering of a "semi-stealth" Gripen.
The P-51 Mustang, the F-86 Sabre, the F-4 Phantom II, the F-15 Eagle.  For aviation buff's, these names and numbers conjure up images not just of fighter aircraft, but periods of time.  The Mustang changed the game over Europe in WWII by having the range to escort bomber aircraft into the heart of enemy territory.  The F-86 roared over Korea.  The F-4 bristling with missiles, launching off an aircraft carrier into Vietnamese airspace, the F-15 dominating the skies over the Middle East.  Each of these fighters were defined by their eras, built to counter an enemy that was developing its own increasingly sophisticated war machines, be it Nazi Germany or the Communist bloc.

The B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber, along with the F-22 "Raptor" and F-35 "Lightning II" fighters have continued this trend.  Sparing no expense in the quest to become dominant over the modern skies, these aircraft have all had long, expensive, and troubled developments in a quest to bring unquestionable superiority over the enemy...  But who's the enemy?

Russian military "graveyard".
Is it Russia?  Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian people has found little use for its once huge military, and have since pared it down a great deal.  Military development was cut back, and some projects were cancelled or delayed indefinitely.  Currently, Russia spends just over 10% of what the USA does in military spending.   It has since been announced that they intend to increase this in an effort to modernize their military, but total spending would still be a small fraction of that of the Americans.  Russia also exports much of its oil surplus to Europe, depending on those sales to enjoy prosperity not realized in its closed off, Cold War days.  Clearly, any thoughts of Russian becoming aggressive and going back to their Cold War mentality are unfounded.

China's latest, the J-31.
If not Russia, then what about the current Communist superpower, China?  China's economy has been steadily growing and its government has been taking advantage of this to beef up its military and start developing its own modern equipment.  Lately it has even been developing it's own stealth fighters, the J-20 and J-31.  Again, Chinese aggression seems quite unlikely.  They've been distancing themselves from North Korea and its anti-western rhetoric.  China's new found economic power comes mostly due to its expanding industrial might assembling goods for western markets, like the USA and Canada.  With this new found economic might, China needs resources from countries like Canada, and has recently invested in our oil-sands.  Needless to say, China is quite unlikely to provoke an open conflict with some of its largest trading partners.

F-15s and F-16s over Iraq.
Over the last 25 years, military conflict has been limited to "police actions" against rogue states, usually involved with terrorism.  Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the former Yugoslavia.  These conflicts have involved an overwhelming coalition of allied forces going against a much smaller, less well equipped enemy that is nonetheless embedded in and often willing to engage in unconventional warfare to help even the odds.  Recent rumblings in countries like Syria, Iran, and North Korea show us that this type of warfare is not likely to disappear anytime soon.

Asymmetric Warfare is now the norm.  The chances of meeting an enemy over open ground, with roughly similar forces are slim.  Indiscriminate IEDs are the enemy's new weapons of choice.  So, instead of risking soldiers' lives in high threat areas, we send in the UCAVs.

"Reaper" UCAV.
UCAV's have proven their worth.  They can loiter over an area for hours, waiting, like a vulture looking for its meal.  When an insurgent is identified, pin-point accurate munitions can take out a target with a minimum amount of collateral damage, all while its operator sits in a safe location miles away.

The UCAV hasn't rendered the manned fighter completely obsolete though, not yet, anyway.  They are incapable of defending themselves against enemy aircraft, so enemy airspace must first be cleared.  These "rogue nations" usually don't have much of an air defence force, but they do have some.  Usually in the form of older MiG-29s or similar Cold War era aircraft.  So far, UCAVs can only carry a very light payload, usually limited to short range missiles and light bombs.  Newer versions will improve on this, but they are still years away.  UAVs have also been susceptible to electronic warfare attacks by more sophisticated opponents.

Obviously, there is still a need for a manned fighter.  Both for attacking larger, "hardened" targets and for providing air cover and superiority to allow the UCAVs to do their job.  The question is:  Which fighter?

The harsh reality of budget cuts.
Military spending has never been that popular in Canada.  Political parties have won elections while running on a platform of decreased military spending, and then later committing that underfunded military to hostile operations.  The Avro Arrow was cancelled due to its high cost.  Even the F-35 controversy is centred more on the aircraft's high costs rather than its capabilities (or lack thereof).  Of course, Canada isn't alone in this.  The end of the Cold War, combined with the economic downturn of the debt crisis, have led people to question the billions of dollars poured into defence spending, while other programs face drastic cuts.

Given the decreased political popularity towards military spending, combined with recent financial "meltdowns", "austerity measures" and "sequestrations"; the trend for the first half of 21st century is very clear:  MILITARY BUDGETS WILL BE CUT.  Unfortunately, These same military forces will also be tasked with engaging "rogue states" around the world, often with very little preparation time.  The next major conflict could be in the Middle East, South East Asia...  Anywhere.  Devoting a standing force in one area will only weaken response needed for another.  This is the reality of warfare in the 21st century.  Our armed services will be forced to do more, with less, and do it faster than ever before.

Reality hits you hard, bro.

Military spending has its advocates, of course.  It creates jobs, and many consider that price should never be an object when comes to keeping us safe.  That's all well and good, but by that reasoning, first response services like police, fire, and ambulance should enjoy the same limitless spending.  Instead, first responders are often the first services to be cut when budgets need to be slashed.  Many departments have to do what they can to ensure the public safety while being understaffed and forced to use old, obsolete equipment, and yet they seem to make do.

So what is a modern military to do?  The answer is simple.  Don't overbuy.  Look hard and long at what requirements are needed.  Buy the equipment that fulfills that need, preferably with a little "wiggle room" for future upgrades and enhancements.  That equipment should also be affordable to procure, naturally, but also affordable to maintain and use.  What isn't needed is the "latest and greatest" just for the sake of keeping up with our neighbours.  The days of outspending our enemy into bankruptcy are long gone.  To keep spending ridiculous amounts only puts us in danger of spending ourselves into bankruptcy.

1 hour in the F-35 = 4 hours in a Gripen.
Which brings us to the Gripen.  It's affordable.  When looking at initial procurement costs, the Gripen is one of, if not the, most affordable aircraft to buy.  This allows armed forces to either buy more fighters, or use that money for other things.  But initial procurement costs aren't the most important price factor, as it entails a one time payout for a set amount of equipment.  What matters even more is sustainment costs.  How much does it cost to actually fly the thing?

Cost per flight hour is a big deal.  Why?  Because it not only determines how much you can actually fly an aircraft given a fixed budget, but it is also determines how sustainable (and vulnerable) that aircraft will be in the future if budgets need to be cut.  To give an example, let's look at Australia's F-111 strike bomber:

Too expensive for "down under", the F-111.
Although the F-111 had a bit of a troubled (F-35 like) beginning, it eventually found its niche as a potent long range low-level strike bomber.  Most famous for a 1986 bombing raid against Libya, the F-111 could carry a heavy bomb load deep into enemy territory, very quickly and below enemy radar detection.  For Australia, it proved attracting as a maritime strike aircraft as well a deterrence towards aggressors.

Despite the F-111's long range, high speed, large payload, and robust airframe, the Australian government decided to retire its F-111 fleet in favour of the slower, shorter ranged, and less heavily armed F-18E/F Super Hornet.  Oddly enough, the Australian F-111s were nowhere near the limit to their flight hours, nor were they obsolete or unsafe.  No, Australia retired its F-111 fleet because it was simply too expensive to fly, with each hour of flight requiring 180 hours of work done on the ground.  The Australian F-111 experience should act as a warning to all modern military forces.  Just because you can afford to buy it, doesn't mean you can afford to fly it.

The F-16.  Cheaper when you buy them in bulk!
Now, contrast the F-111 with the F-16 Fighting Falcon, aka:  the "Viper".  The Viper is a much smaller and simpler plane, with a single engine, a fraction of the payload, and a slower (but still impressive) top speed.  Yet, despite being an "inferior" aircraft, the F-16 has been in much demand from smaller countries with smaller budgets.  Easily the most prolific fighter design in the western world, the F-16 offers close to, but not quite, the performance of much more expensive aircraft (like the F-15) for a much more affordable price, both in initial costs and cost per flight hour.  Why?  Because it was designed to be affordable.  Because it was so affordable and capable, many air forces lined up to purchase it.  Thanks to economies of scale, this made the F-16 even more affordable as time went on.

Sadly, although the F-35 is touted as the replacement to the F-16, this is not the case.  The F-35 lacks the Viper's simple, lightweight design philosophy.  Instead, the F-35 is a heavy, complicated machine that is only made affordable due to implied, and possibly forced, economies of scale.

So if the F-35 isn't the new F-16, what is?  Not the Super Hornet, it's bigger, more complicated, slower, and more expensive to run (see the Jane's chart above).  Nor is the Rafale or Typhoon, which are arguably better aircraft than the F-16, but far more expensive.  No, the aircraft most likely to beat the F-16 at its own game is the Saab JAS-39 Gripen.

Hungarian Gripens, possibly bought at a Costco.
Again, looking at the above chart (Jane's is a very respected source btw), the Gripen's cost per flight hour is $4,700.  That's substantially lower than even the F-16 ($7,700), and a mere fraction of that of the Super Hornet ($11,000), Rafale ($16,500), and Typhoon ($18,000 est.).  Now look at the F-35's projected cost:  $21,000 for the F-35A version up to $31,000 per hour for the STOVL and carrier versions.  Yikes.  For every F-35A put into the air, you can afford to send 4 Gripens up instead...  And then take everybody out for a round of drinks afterward...  And a steak dinner.

Despite the Gripen's low cost, it is still a very capable airplane.  Seen by many as the equal, if not superior aircraft to the American F-16, the Gripen has the additional benefit of being cheaper to fly and easier to service.  It also has the benefit of being able to operate from unprepared runways.  If that wasn't enough, the Gripen is also incredibly deployable, requiring only a single C-130 Hercules to carry the supplies needed to support 10 Gripens for a 4 week deployment, with plenty of room to spare.

The Gripen F demonstrator:  More power, same low cost.
Better still, the Gripen has shown that it still has a few more tricks up its sleeve.  The Gripen NG program managed to add a slew of more modern equipment to the already potent fighter, along with adding some additional fuel capacity.  This was done without adding any substantial weight or drag to the aircraft.  Better still, the NG program fitted a new engine that has 20% more power and has the potential to produce even more.  With an AESA radar, IRST, more powerful engine capable of super cruise, and superior BVR missiles, the Gripen NG (E/F) will not only be cheaper to fly than the F-16, but it will be superior in many aspects as well.

Proposed "Sea Gripen" design.
But what about the future?  It turns out that the Gripen may have a few more tricks yet.  Its ability to take off and land on relatively short, unprepared runways make it an easy conversion to a carrier capable aircraft.  A naval version has been proposed, sporting a sturdier set of landing gear and an arrestor hook.  Although no serious development has been taken yet, it has been presented to countries like the U.K. as a possible back-up to the F-35C.

Artists rendering of a Gripen with CFTs.
Other options are possible as well.  The Gripen currently does not utilize a conformal fuel tank (CFT) like those of the F-15 and F-16.  CFTs are currently being developed for the Typhoon, so CFTs for the Gripen seem a likely option in the future.  Another possible option is to develop an electronic warfare (EW) version, similar to the EF-18G "Growler", EF-111 "Raven", or the famous "Wild Weasel" aircraft of the Vietnam War.  The EF-18G currently has the EW role mostly to itself, but it uses the antiquated AN/ALQ-99 ECM pod.  It is quite likely the "Next Generation Jammer" will be much easier to implement, as it is being planned for use on the single seat F-35, so it's likely to be mountable on the Gripen as well.

One of the Gripen's biggest selling points is its "open source" flight software.  Unlike proprietary U.S. flight software, the end user can modify, update, and upgrade the Gripen's software however they see fit, tweaking it to fit their needs.  On the contrary, U.S. military aircraft are very "hands off" requiring the need to contract the manufacturer and get permission from the U.S. government for all future upgrades.

In a world of shrinking defence budgets, asymmetric warfare, and global hotspots requiring quick and decisive action taken with little warning or preparation, military powers all over the world are going to be demanding an affordable, capable fighter than can be brought to bear quickly and easily.  The Gripen just so happens to fit the bill nicely.  It has already enjoyed some modest sales success but the future will likely show an even greater demand.  The F-16 is nearing the end of its production.  The F-35, once promised to be the F-16 for the future, is swamped with budget overruns, delays, and controversy.  Even if it does mature out of its "growing pains" it will still likely be too expensive to fly in a world of military budget cuts.

This leaves us with the Saab Gripen to fill the F-16 proverbial shoes.  Smart governments will take a long, hard look and wonder:  "Do we really need that zillion-dollar stealth fighter to fight a country that still uses MiG-21s?"  "Can our pilots do their job if we cut back training hours to save money?"  and more importantly, "What if our fighter is too expensive to risk us finding out it doesn't live to expectations?"

Smarter governments will only need to ask two questions:  "When can we buy the Gripen?" and "Can we please start making the Gripen ourselves to help meet demand?"

A "Stealth Gripen" study.

Then, there's always the Gripen's possible future...


  1. Great write up Doug. It's like buying a Ferrari. Sure you can afford a Ferrari but can you afford to have a Ferrari? Even if the f -35 lives up to it promises it would spend most of its time in a hanger and not flying. Same goes for the other eurocanards and the super hornet.

    1. It's the same logic as to why that Porsche on Kijiji or Craigslist isn't as good of a deal as it looks. Sure you can buy one for the price of a Honda, but good luck with the insurance and maintenance costs.

  2. "Even if the f-35 lives up to it promises it would spend most of its time in a hanger and not flying. Same goes for the other eurocanards and the super hornet."

    The Gripen is a eurocanard.

    Jane's is a reputable source, but I don't buy this cost estimate at all. Both the Gripen and F-16 were offered to India for about the same cost, 50 million $. The Gripen depends heavily on American technology, for example the jet engine is shared with the F-18. Hence, the maintenance costs should be roughly in the same league.

    However, according to Jane's the F-16 is supposed to be almost twice as expensive to operate? I don't buy this. A newly developed Gripen NG probably won't be much cheaper to operate than a new F-16.

    The estimate for the typhoon is based on guesswork, namely:

    "The Eurofighter cost given by the UK parliament appears to cover fuel usage only by hour"

    How do they know? The maintenance costs merely covers the fuel usage? This would mean that the fuel usage of the typhoon is so high that it's cost is twice as expensive as the fuel usage of the Gripen including all of the Gripen's additional mainentance costs. Given that the typhoons jet engines have a remarkably low fuel usage, which gives the typhoon a considerable range and given that fuel usage is only a fraction of the maintenance costs, I find this assumption to be highly unlikely. How do I know this?

    "But the report also says the Super Hornet has ‘relatively high dry thrust ratings while the GE F414 engine is less efficient in specific fuel consumption than the engines of the similar-sized Rafale and EuroFighter aircraft’. And everything else being the same, the F/A-18 E/F ‘engines use more fuel and are hence relatively costly’ compared to the SNECMA or Eurojet engines, even though the US Navy aircraft have a relatively low CPFH."

    But, the Gripen NG uses the same jet engine F414 as the Hornet!?

    In January 2011, the entire Typhoon fleet passed the 100,000 flying hours mark. So it appears they are not spending their time in a hangar because of their astronomical maintenance cost. This estimate is very fishy indeed.

    Now, where does this cost estimate come from?

    "The operational cost of the Swedish Saab Gripen aircraft is the lowest among a flightline of modern fighters, confirmed a White Paper submitted by the respected international defense publishing group IHS Jane’s, in response to a study commissioned by Saab."

    So the study was commissioned by Saab?

    The main reason for the cost benefit of the Gripen is that you must only service a single engine instead of two engines and the plane is somewhat lighter. So everything else being roughly equal you would expect a price difference in operating costs which is below the factor 2. But, a price difference of more than the factor 3 between the Rafale/typhoon and the Gripen NG is way over the top.

    Now, there is no arguing that an aircraft with a single jet engine is considerably cheaper to operate than an aircraft with two jet engines. So, the cost of operating an F-16 or Gripen NG is definitely going to be much lower than the cost of operating a Super Hornet or a typhoon. That's a huge plus for the Gripen.

    1. There is more than just fuel costs factored into an aircraft's maintenance costs. There's also labor costs in the form of man hours, etc.

      I think part of what makes the Gripen so low on the CPFH chart is that it was engineered to be easily serviced while serving at an improvised airbase, as per Sweden's Cold War defence strategy. Instead of needing a team of highly trained aircraft technicians, the Gripen can be serviced by a single technician operating alongside five conscripts.

      Using your comparison of the F-16, the Gripen uses a much smaller engine, as the F-16's F110 engine was derived from the F-15 and F-14's engine, while the Gripen's was derived from the smaller F-18's F404.

      While the Super Hornet uses the same engine as the proposed NG, the "Rhino" is notoriously inefficient when it comes to aerodynamics. For example, the weapon pylons are canted outward at an angle to facilitate weapon separation. Needless to say, this doesn't do much for fuel economy. You can see what I'm talking about here:

      As far as questioning the Jane's study, I would take their word for it. They are a VERY reputable organization. The study may have been commissioned by Saab, but I think this was done because Saab had a pretty good idea what the outcome would be from the start.

  3. "There is more than just fuel costs factored into an aircraft's maintenance costs. There's also labor costs in the form of man hours, etc."

    Sure, but according to Jane's the fuel usage of the typhoon ALONE amounts to more than twice the cost of the gripen maintenance costs including labor costs... There is no way in the word for this to be true.

    1. Those are the numbers given. I'm not sure how accurate they are, and I'm sure that there is plenty of context to explain the differences. Different services obviously have different pay scales, fuel costs, etc.

      Given the Typhoon's level of sophistication, along with its "international" parts and supply lines, I don't think that the $18,000/hr cost is that unrealistic. It's pretty close to that of the Rafale, which is a very similar fighter that is less constrained by international partnership complexities. The supply chain process for the Typhoon must be a nightmare, with different parts being built all over Europe and then shipped to a central location.

      I'm also quite sure that part of the explanation for the Gripen's lower CPFH is due to its service in slightly less developed countries like Czechoslovakia and Thailand, where the payscale is bound to be lower than Countries like Germany and the UK.

      Don't get me wrong, I believe a Canadian Gripen NG would definitely cost more per flight hour than $4,700, but it would still be a deal cheaper than the Typhoon or Super Hornet.

  4. Weight is one of the biggest indicators of the cost to operate FIGHTER jets. More weight simply means more things on the aircraft to go wrong, also means more power needed to power them. It isn't that simple but is a very good indicator of costs.

    The F-16 and Gripen are probably close to the same cost to operate but I can still see the Gripen being cheaper to operate. Just look at how, when and why they where designed. The F-16 was designed in the late 60's and developed in the 70's. It was designed to be a light weight fighter to be used with the F-15. It has grown in complexity and weight over time. It was suppose to be cheaper to operate than the F-15 which wouldn't be that hard to achieve. It was also born into a military which has huge funding so less concerned was giving to operational costs.

    The Gripen was designed in the 80's and developed in the 90's. It was designed from lessons learned from the Viggen. It was to be less complex and weigh a lot less (no thrust reverses like the Viggen). It was also desgined to be easy to maintian and operate. This is one of its biggest design features. The Gripen also is built by a nation with a lot less military funding and needs to be frugal (something that the USA and few other countries need to learn).

    The Typhoon is a expensive fighter to operate. Ask Spain. They are looking to sell 20 of its Typhoons to Peru. And Austria isn't having the greatest time with them. The Tranche program is not working to well. The only two countries of the partnering four that could afford it are Germany and the UK, and they are having a tough time with it. The Saudis are one of the reasons the Typhoon is still being produced and upgraded.

    1. Spain was on the verge of bankrupcy and had to be bailed out by the European Union. So their attempt to sell 20 typhoons to Peru is no indication of the maintenance cost of the aircraft. They have to reduce spending wherever they can.

      The tranch program merely means that the aircraft is continuously being upgraded as it is built. This means that a tranch 2 typhoon has more capabilities than a tranch 1 typhoon. The upgrades relate for the most part to the avionics of the aircraft. So there is nothing wrong with the "tranch program". It is working well in Austria, in Saudi Arabia, in Spain, in Germany, in Italy and last but not least in the UK. Oman recently bought tranch 3 typhoons.

      Weight contributes little to the cost of operation. Consequently - all things being equal - more fuel is burned for traveling at the same speed. The Gripen NG is supposed to weigh around 8000 kg, whereas the typhoon has an empty weight of around 11000 kg. This is offset by the fact that the EJ200 are a lot more fuel efficient than the Gripen NG, GE F414 jet engine.

      Even if you assumed that the typhoon used twice as much fuel as the Gripen NG - which is far fetched - you could not arrive at the conclusion that the operating cost of the typhoon is twice as expensive. However, the above "study" states that the cost of fuel consumption alone amounts to two times the cost of the whole operating cost of the Gripen. That's ludicrous!

    2. The major costs of operating an aircraft is not the fuel consumption but the cost of servicing and repairing the aircraft, in particular the jet engines. That's why the operating costs of a fighter with one engine is considerably lower than the operating cost of an equivalent fighter with two engines. The typhoon's EJ200 engines have long service intervalls for several reasons. The EJ200 comprises a highly sophisticated Digital Engine Control Unit (DECU). This control unit comprises dozens of sensors that continuously monitor every critical component of the engines during flight. A portable computer control unit is used for reading out the whole history of each jet engine. Consequently, no periodic maintenance intervalls must be followed. The DECU allows for „On condition“- maintenance. Maintenance must only be performed, when it is necessary. Additionally, all of the major components are built for long maintenance intervalls and the thrust of the jet engines is actually limited in peace time setting to 60 kN dry thrust and 90 kN wet thrust (i.e. with afterburners). This in turn reduces fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The wartime settings increase the thrust of the jet engines to 69 kN dry thrust and 95 kN wet thrust. An emergency setting increases the wet thrust to 102 kN for a few minutes.

      This means that a single typhoon jet engine in war time setting has about the same maximum thrust as a single Gripen NG jet engine, i.e. 95 kN vs. 98 kN. But, the typhoon has two engines, not one! Consequently, the thrust-to-weight ratio in wartime settings is equal to 1.25 for the typhoon vs. 0.87 for the Gripen NG (higher is better). The nominal wing loading of the Gripen is 11500kg/31.1m²= 370 kg/m² compared to the typhoon 15500kg/50m² = 230 kg/m² (lower is better). Without being unfair at all, the typhoon is playing in a different league in terms of agility. The Gripen's wing loading is considerably better than the F-16C (370 vs 431 kg/m²). The Gripen's thrust-to-weight ratio is considerably worse than the F-16C (1.08 vs. 0.87). So basically, the Gripen NG is an aircraft with more or less the same aeronautical performance as an F-16.

      The math is the following 1.25=2*95000/(15500*9.81), wherein 95000 is the thrust in Newton N; 15500 is the nominal weight of the typhoon in kg, i.e. merely filled up with fuel. 9.81 is the acceleration due to gravity, this gets you the weight of the aircraft in terms of Newton N. Thrust is measured in Newton (N) or Kilo Newton (kN). For the Gripen NG you get 0.87 = 98000/(11500*9.81); 11500 kg being the nominal weight of the Gripen NG. Please note that the typhoon has an internal fuel capacity of 4500 kg jet fuel, whereas the Gripen has an internal fuel capacity of 3500 kg jet fuel. Since both planes have roughly the same combat radius without external fuel tanks, this gives you an assessment of how much more fuel the typhoon actually burns, i.e. around 1.3 times more fuel per kilometer.

    3. Again, I'm not privy to the actual fuel costs, maintenance costs or whatever. If you believe that Jane's figures are in error than there isn't much I can say to prove them right or wrong.

      Instead, I would imagine any country comparing these aircraft would perform a much more thorough cost analysis, much like the KPMG report. I put the Jane's figure up because that is the best CPFH comparison that I have found. Further research has shown that the Typhoon has had a few problems, but the Gripen almost always stands out when it comes to costs and ease of maintenance.

      If you can find a source that mentions a more accurate Cost Per Flight Hour for any of these aircraft, I would love to see it and will gladly post it. I wish to make the information here as accurate as possible.

    4. If people find a source like Janes fishy, then maybe the Swiss will be better?

      After all, these guys have evaluated Gripen NG, Typhoon and Rafale. The Hornet guys were asked to bid but they had one look at the budget and the requirements of the Swiss and turned around.

      As for the others:

      “In opting for the Saab Gripen, the government chose a fighter jet that meets military requirements while also going for a solution that is financially acceptable for the defence ministry and for the armed forces, in both the medium and long term,” a ministry statement explained.

      Maurer told a media conference on Wednesday that the Gripen was by far the cheapest option of the three aircraft in contention. He put the total cost of the fleet of 22 aircraft at about SFr3.1 billion ($3.4 billion).

      While not questioning the capabilities of the other two aircraft, Maurer pointed out that the extra cost would have left less room for manoeuvre in the overall defence budget, which has also to cover the operation of an army of 100,000 and the upgrade of equipment.

      “The best army in the world does not consist of the world’s best aircraft plus halberds,” he said.

      Canada might not have any halberds, but there is still a case for building balanced forces. Is Gripen NG the worlds best jet? Probably not, but at least you can afford to buy a healthy quantity, train the pilots, buy missiles and bombs in quantity and perhaps even afford to buy different variants like the Gripen-"Growler".

      These things add up, and when put together might end up producing something much more lethal than just spending all your money on one platform.

    5. "If people find a source like Janes fishy, then maybe the Swiss will be better? "

      I actually quoted from the report about the cost of the Grippen:

      113 SFr per Grippen.

      So the Gripen definitely does not come cheap. The deal isn't done either. The Swiss are going to hold a referendum on the acquisition of the Gripen. Now more irregularities about the deal have leaked:

      The translation has some rough edges but I think you get the idea:

      "The senate wants no secondhand Euro Fighter. It (the senate) declined the offer of second-hand fighter jets by letter. The front against the Gripen remains. Meanwhile, Christoph Blocher is no longer convinced of the Swedes. Lorenz Honegger

      The European aircraft manufacturer EADS wants to sell 33 second hand Eurofighter jets to Switzerland, according to a "Sunday" report. The price: about 3.2 billion Swiss francs. That would be only slightly more than the 3.1 billion that SVP minister of Defense Ueli Maurer is ready to pay for the 22 new Swedish Gripen jets. The second-hand planes are from the German Luftwaffe.

      Cancellation in June

      The senate has rejected the previously undisclosed offer back in June in a letter of reply to EADS, as they say in Bern: Switzerland is generally not interested in second-hand planes, so the state government.

      For senator Maurer the report of the EADS offer comes at a bad time anyway. Because tomorrow he needs explain to the politicians and public in Thun why Switzerland is best served by the Swedish Saab Gripen fighter - although this fighter is militarily inferior to the Euro Fighter...

      Blocher against Maurer

      The question is whether the coup succeeds well: from the SP to the FDP now all parties express massive reservations about the Gripen purchase. Even the SVP is doing her best to avoid being associated with the risky deal. Party member and senator Thomas Hurter (SH) is fighting on the front line against the Gripen, most recently co-authored a highly critical parliamentary report on fighter procurement..."

  5. Please note that the Gripen is offered with much of the same weapons and rockets as the typhoon. The missiles are IRIS-T and MBDA meteor. Both use the same gun, the mauser 27 mm canon. Both can be equipped with the Israeli Reccelite and Litening pods, Rafael industries. Finally, the ASEA radar of the Gripen is produced by the same British/Italien company Selex Galileo as the Captor-E on the typhoon. What components of the Gripen are actually so much cheaper to maintain and service compared to the typhoon, when there is so much commonality between these aircraft? Jane's has got some explaining to do, since they believe that the maintenance costs of the typhoon is around 3.5 times more expensive than the Gripen. This completely goes against logic and common sense.

    So let's look at the cost of getting a Gripen NG. This version of the Gripen is in active development and so far has been offered to a single customer, Switzerland. According to the Swiss parlament, the Gripen NG system price amounts to 113 Mio. SFr per aircraft, roughly equal to 105 Mio Canadian Dollars. To be fair, this price includes developement costs which are shared by Sweden and Switzerland. Consequently, a price well below 100 Million Dollars should be obtainable for Canada.

    The data with regard to the thrust, weight and wing area of the Gripen NG as well as the cost is here, translated into English using google translate:

    This is the original swiss web site:

    Whichever plane you choose depends on how much you value the additional agility and capabilities of the typhoon in relation to the lower cost of the Gripen. But, you should really look at the true costs and true capabilities of both aircraft and not be persuaded by ludicrous and highly biased studies.

  6. Thanks for the link, it was a good read and I'm glad to have another source of specs for the Gripen E. I'll make sure to correct any errors elsewhere on this site.

    As for the Typhoon itself, I think that if Canada can procure it for an equal, or near equal price to the Gripen, then it would indeed be the better aircraft. It carries a bigger payload, including 4 semi-conformal BVR missiles. It is also undoubtedly a fantastic fighter, quite possibly the best in the sky right now after the F-22, and possibly better in some respects. I would not be the least upset if I got to see a Canadian Typhoon flying over my house here in Greenwood.

    The truth is, the decision will be made by folks with (hopefully) more knowledge on the subject than I. I do believe that the F-35's massive marketing push was blinding the powers that be here to other aircraft. In the end, the aircraft chosen will be based on the "3 Ps": Performance, Price, and Politics. The Typhoon has the edge on performance, the Gripen has the edge on price, and the F-35 (followed by the Super Hornet) have the edge on politics.

  7. "The whole study is based on the assumption:

    "The Eurofighter cost given by UK parliament appears to cover fuel usage only per hour."

    So this is the starting point of this study, right?"

    Wrong, me thinks bhigr. This assumption of yours rather shows you as being lost.. the Typhoon is just 1 of the fighters in that study. My guess is that the plane most relevant to compare the Typhoons CPFH with would be Rafale's, & I think few would argue that the Typhoon costs less than half of the Rafale to fly, which you indirectly claim here.

    Further, you claim that the Gripen CPFH is all marketing hype?..
    Now, how & why would they claim false figures if that respect, when there are a number of clients & export clients already which those figures could be checked with?.. As Bill Sweetman amongst others pointed out back in the discussion about the Norwegian competition, it would make no sense for SAAB to lie about their costs, & the findings of Janes's seem to be pretty much in the region where it might have been expected to be, according to previous reports.
    Same goes for the F-16, doesn't it?..
    Then again, when it comes to what Canada should choose, I think one of the main questions should be, how does the planes work when operating in cold conditions (ie. -45C), & from what I hear, also how does it work from remote base, since Canada apparently have some spread out bases, right?

  8. Sorry Dough, didn't see your last post 'til I had posted mine. Do you want me to delete it?

  9. I'll leave it, because it actually goes back to the Gripen. Although I admire Upandaway and bhlger's enthusiasm, Austrian scandals involving the Typhoon aren't what this blog is about. I hope I didn't discourage either from commenting in the future.

    Whether or not there was corruption involved the the Austrian Typhoon deal not a matter to be decided here. Nor is Jane's reputation. If someone has a more reputable source regarding fighter jet costs I would very much encourage them to share.

  10. Apparently, everybody has a different definition of flight hour cost. Does it include the training of the pilots and the crews? Does it include the cost for flight simulators? Does it include the cost for high g training facilities? Does it include the continual upgrades to the weapon system? Does it include the price for buildings and the maintenance of the hangars and flight fields? Arguably, all of these costs could be regarded as part of the cost of operating such an aircraft and you could boil it all down to one hour.

    This swiss article compares the costs of the Gripen with the cost of the Rafale.

    1 flight hour Gripen: 20'000 SFr.
    1 flight hour Rafale: 25'000 SFr.

    1. You neglect to take into effect that the numbers are based on 18 Rafales for the cost of 30 Gripens. 18 Rafales DOES NOT equal 30 Gripens, no matter what Dassault's literature would have you believe. That comparison only works if you compare bombload capacity.

      We can argue about costs all day and still not come to a conclusion. If you have a problem with Jane's figures, take it up with them. I'm merely posting them here to make my case.

  11. Here are flight hour costs of US aircraft according to Winslow wheeler.

    The flight hour cost for a F-16D is reported to be around 24000 USD. The flight hour cost for an F-15D is around 35000 USD.

    So again, we have a comparison between a single engine jet (F-16) and a twin engine jet (F-15) of roughly the same era and we are nowhere near a price difference of 3.5. The price difference is well below the factor 2, which fully conforms to my argument. The figures published by Janes do not stand up to scrutiny.

    1. Great link, thank you.

      Without an itemized description of what Jane's figures and Winslow Wheeler's figures include, it is not productive to compare the two to each other. Undoubtedly, since Wheeler's figures are strictly for USAF aircraft and the Jane's study is more international, the Wheeler numbers a more accurate portrayal of costs, given they would have a fixed labour cost and similar protocols regardless of aircraft. The Jane's study likely has more of a "fudge factor" built in to reconcile differing maintenance methods, but its chart is merely trying to make a comparison, while Wheeler's study is much more detailed.

      Notice how the amount of engines in Wheeler's analysis often has an effect on flying cost, but not always. The twin-engined A-10 was far cheaper than even the F-16 until recently (likely due to the A-10s age), and the 8-engined B-52 cost about the same as a 4-engined B-1B. It seems that complexity and age have a lot more to do with flying cost than the amount of engines. Complicated aircraft like the B-2 cost a small fortune, simple aircraft like the C-130 and F-16 are cheaper, while some older, aging aircraft like the A-10 and B-52 become more expensive as they begin to wear out and require more servicing.

      I appreciate your tenacity bhlgr, but please just let the matter rest for now. The point I was trying to make with this post is that the Gripen can do the job needed for a lower price than most of its competitors.

      I was not trying to get into specifics or go down the garden path of providing exact figures, as they are nearly impossible to come by.

    2. Doug, I didn't attack you personally nor did I deviate from the topic or said anything bad about the gripen. I merely pointed out why I think your response is flawed. I don't think it is right to sensor that.

  12. I entered another graph showing the results of a 2001 Dutch study on the various fighters.

  13. The cost per flight hour of a Gripen is said to be in the same ballpark as the cost of flying a small business jet, I´ve been told. How much that is, I don't know. But there are a lot of those flying around, so it can't be too expensive.

    One of the main parameters in the design of the Gripen was that it should be cheap to fly and easy to maintain. Actually, that is one of its main drawbacks. Had focus been on performance, it would probably had been fitted with a bigger engine, like any of those used in the F-16.
    The RM12 has been from the outset designed to be somewhat more reliable and easier to maintain than the F404, and it has been modified since the introduction with features that make it even better in that respect. The flame holders in the after burner was initially prone to failure, and was difficult to replace. An improved flame holder was developed, that was easier to replace, and I think that design also made it in to other F404 engines as well.

    Regarding a comparison of fuel consumption between the F/A-18E/F and the Gripen E. The Gripen design turned out to be very aerodynamically efficient. Better than projected. The ability to super cruise in the 39E is a good indication of this. The F/A-18 is, as far as I know, an example of the opposite. It is a draggy aircraft, especially if you put something on the wings. The pylons have a toe out of 4 degrees that gives the aircraft a bit extra drag. More drag means more fuel consumption.

    As far as I have heard, the Typhoon has had more than its fair share of reliability issues, which I guess can explain that it is expensive to operate, Probably the issues will go away with increased system maturity, and the costs will come down?

    1. Yup, reliability issues. ;-) They were so uncreadibly unreliable that the UK typhoons had an overall success rate or 97% in its missions over Lybia (459 sorties)

      The Italian airforce typhoons were also plagued with reliability problems. Therefore, the Italien airforce only flew 201 out of 203 plannes missions over Lybia.

      The latest results of the typhoon in the red flag alaska exercise was equally abysmal. Just think, the typhoons kicked the F-22s asses, which sounds alright, but they only flew 98 out of 102 planned sorties!?

      Surely, these results are completely unacceptable for a weapon system like the typhoon! ;-)

    2. And still Germany had to replace the Typhoons with Phantoms during their tour of duty in the Baltic.

      97% is still a whole unit of percentage lower than 98%, so yeah.. it´s obviously a heap of unreliable junk. :-P

      Maybe the system has matured, after all, the Libyan OP was quite recently, and the German Baltic ops I read about somewhere, were quite a while ago. But even so, it could show up in a report, if old data is used (which it will, if newer data is lacking).

      But as you say, the Tiffie is probably dirt cheap to buy and operate, that´s why countries like Spain, Germany and England are trying so sell their older used aircraft.. right :-P

    3. "And still Germany had to replace the Typhoons with Phantoms during their tour of duty in the Baltic.", really, they "had to". Provide your source or repent! ;-)

      97% is still a whole unit of percentage lower than 98%, so yeah.. it´s obviously a heap of unreliable junk. :-P

      True, but 97% is 5% better than 92%, which was the availability of the Gripen over Lybia according to wikipedia:

      "The Gripen made ​​its first combat mission as part of the international military mission in Libya in 2011 . Sweden continued from 28 March eight (later five) aircraft for reconnaissance missions over Libya. The aircraft were based in the Sicilian Sigonella. Neutral Sweden did not participate in the fight against ground targets. The Gripen completed with 40% for most of the reconnaissance missions. In 650 missions and nearly 2,000 flight hours 150,000 pictures were taken. For these interventions reached the Gripen (version C) an availability of over 92%"

      I know its a sad sad situation and it's getting more and more absurd! ;-)

    4. I don't think anyone can dismiss the Typhoon's performance over Libya. It did its job well.

      What is interesting is that the RAF had to cannibalize parts from other Typhoons in order to get the jet combat ready:

      Again, the topic here isn't about the Typhoons lack of ability. I personally think the Typhoon is a better aircraft in many (but not all) respects. But is it worth the extra money? My argument here is that the Gripen can bring near-Typhoon levels of performance, at a substantially lower cost.

      Like the Typhoon, the Gripen wields both the formidable MBDA Meteor and IRIS-T missiles, as well as the more common AMRAAM and Sidewinder. Thrust-to-weight, wing loading, and other performance parameters are also similar when comparing the Gripen E/F to the Typhoon. Both are scheduled to be fitted with similar IRST, AESA radars, and electronic warfare suites.

      Other than the amount of engines, the two birds are remarkably similar.

    5. bhigr, are you claiming "success rate" & "availability" to be the same thing?.. Another difference when comparing the material like you try to do is that as far as I know, the Typhoons were operating from their home bases, while Gripen was was not. It seems you are looking to do a fair bit of "Apples to Oranges" comparing.

      Futher, it seems like you're somewhat desperatly trying to point out that the Typhoon it's "a heap of junk", although no one here said it is. What is brought up here is rather that, from a perspective of operating in a place like Canada, with it's climate etc, the Gripen E/F would present a fair amount of advantages, & then the subject is mainly about the respective planes as weaponsystems.

      Btw, that Wiki translation from German, about the Swedish involvement in the Libyan operation (OUP), wasn't all that great. I suggest you look around for other/better sources, preferably in english, to avoid too much confucion of facts.

    6. @erikG "And still Germany had to replace the Typhoons with Phantoms during their tour of duty in the Baltic.", really, they "had to". Provide your source or repent! ;-)"

      You didn't respond to this request. Therefore, I conclude that your original claim was a lie.

    7. @Doug

      Spare parts. That's not a problem of the plane. If the UK wanted spare parts readily available then they should buy them and store them:

      "Retired Air Commodore Andrew Lambert said the practice of raiding aircraft for spare parts was ‘neither new nor unusual’.
      These planes, dubbed ‘Christmas trees’ by mechanics, were usually undergoing a six-month overhaul so it made sense to strip them of parts if another jet urgently needed one.
      ‘If you are saying is it better to have spares so you don’t have to cannibalise a plane, then probably yes,’ he said."

      So this is a failure on the part of the UK defence ministry and not a fault of the plane.

      "Again, the topic here isn't about the Typhoons lack of ability. I personally think the Typhoon is a better aircraft in many (but not all) respects. But is it worth the extra money? My argument here is that the Gripen can bring near-Typhoon levels of performance, at a substantially lower cost."

      I agree, this is the question you have to answer for yourself. How much money do you want to spend for better performance. In terms of available missiles and radar, there is virtually no difference between the aircrafts. You get a very well performing aircraft with the Gripen. It would be a good choice for Canada.

      However, I do not agree with this: "Thrust-to-weight, wing loading, and other performance parameters are also similar when comparing the Gripen E/F to the Typhoon." The aeronautical performance of the typhoon is considerably better:

      "Once again, the outstanding performance of the Eurofighter Typhoon was evident in a dogfight simulation. The 111 Squadron of the Spanish Air Force as well as the 493rd Squadron of the U.S. Air Force were deployed for training in Gando Air Base, Gran Canaria. The Spanish Squadron attended the training with a total of six Eurofighter Typhoons. The U.S. Air Force deployed F-15s.

      In an interview on the exercise, Major Juan Balesta, the 41-year old Commander of the 111 Squadron stressed that a two-ship formation of Eurofighters involved in a dogfight simulation “against” the F-15s enjoyed full control of the engagement. The Typhoons managed to smash a formation of eight F-15s which had the role of the attacker with the first Eurofighter jet managing to "shoot down" four F-15 fighter jets. The second Eurofighter managed to disable three F-15 jets. Eventually the pilots were using the Eurofighter Typhoon to full capacity and taking advantage of its enormous capabilities. Trump that."

      But, this comes at a price. The price of maintaining two instead of one jet engine for each plane and the price of paying for them.

    8. Indeed. That is the question. Is the Typhoon worth the extra money?

      For a country with a substantially higher military budget than Canada, say the U.K. or Germany, the answer is absolutely. It also makes sense for countries with a smaller budget, but who are in "hot spots", like South Korea or Isreal.

      By comparison, Canada's military budget is substantially less. We spend just slightly over half that of Germany or Saudi Arabia. We are also a much larger country, geographically, and we need to spread our assets out more to provide sufficient defence.

      Would I like to see Typhoons in Canada? Absolutely. But I would prefer to see Gripens stationed in Comox, Cold Lake, Bagotville, and Greenwood as opposed to seeing Typhoons in just Cold Lake and Bagotville.

    9. "Would I like to see Typhoons in Canada? Absolutely. But I would prefer to see Gripens stationed in Comox, Cold Lake, Bagotville, and Greenwood as opposed to seeing Typhoons in just Cold Lake and Bagotville."

      Sounds reasonable. But, if you are merely operating 65 aircraft, then it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to deploy them in 4 different bases. Are F-18s permanently deployed in Comox and Greenwood?

    10. Not permanently, no. They do act as temporary bases and are fully capable of supporting them. I know from personal experience that the CF-18s are stationed in Greenwood quite frequently.

      The 65 aircraft to replace the CF-18s was originally supposed to be at least 80, but that number was dropped to the bare minimum in order to get the proposed F-35 order on budget. Needless to say, the cheaper the aircraft, the more we can get for the same $9 billion acquisition cost. The more aircraft bought, combined with easier and cheaper maintenance, the more likely those fighters are to be spread out.

    11. In terms of operating several air bases, it doesn't make a difference whether you have 65 F-18, 65 Gripen or 65 Typhoon. If you plan to operate more Gripen than typhoon, then the argument with regard to cost savings is no longer valid.

    12. Why not? If we can purchase more fighters for less cost, and then save further on flying costs, I think the argument is quite valid.

      I know you have issues with the Janes' Study, but let's assume its at least a decent comparison tool. If we drop the Typhoon's CPFH to $15,000 and raise the Gripen's to an even $5,000, that still equates to 1/3 the cost. That means we could fly twice the amount of jets and still save money on flying costs.

      If you've had a look at the KPMG report, you'll notice that it is not the initial procurement costs, but sustainment costs that break the bank. Of the F-35's almost $45 billion cost over 42 years, only $9 billion was for initial acquisition.

    13. I think I have conclusively proven that Janes' study is wrong. But, you chose to sensor the reasons. Why? Now you are still goofing around with fake numbers, why?

    14. My "censoring" was an attempt to keep this blogsite free from flamewars. Upandaway and yourself were going at it, and neither of you were really adding much to the conversation.

      As I have said before, If you can come up with an alternative to Janes' numbers, PLEASE POST THEM. Sorry, but your own calculations are not enough. Not that I don't agree with your math, it's just that there are too many unknown factors that need to be accounted for. If you can find me a definitive CPFH of any of the aircraft in the Jane's study, I would love to see it and I would have no problem using that figure from here on out. Heck, find me a single report of Jane's being corrupt or misleading and I might very well take that graph down, at the very least, I'll add a disclaimer.

      Look at it this way, if you had to present something, would you be more inclined to present a study from a well known, well respected source, or some anonymous post? If you click on most any of the links on this blog, you will see that you land on an independent source. Usually some sort of news agency. If I were to post links to some random post on an internet chat forum, I would be called out by a lot more people, and rightfully so.

      If you don't believe the report, again, TAKE IT UP WITH JANE'S. Not me. I'm merely presenting the material as I find it.

    15. I think a made a very convincing case on the basis of numbers and replied to your arguments. That was too much for you, so you sensored it.

    16. Okay, you win. I'll see if I can find more info on the Typhoon's operating cost...

      Oh look, here's a report filed by the BRITISH GOVERNMENT relating to the costs of its "fast jets" including the Typhoon, Tornado, and Harrier.

      Wow. The Typhoon costs £70,000 per hour compared to the Tornado GR4's £35,000. Mind you, it does mention that part of the reason for this is due to the Typhoon's low numbers thus far.

      Here's another source listing the Typhoon's cost as "$18,000/hr"... Likely using Janes' numbers.

      Here's a link where the Swiss Air Force Chief of Staff states that the Gripen E/F would be half the cost to operate as the Typhoon or Rafale:

      If you think Janes, the British Government, and the Swiss Air Force Chief of Staff are all full of it, I doubt there is very little I can do to convince you otherwise. All three of those sources present different numbers as they all use different parameters. They all seem to agree that the Typhoon is kind of expensive, though.

      What about the Gripen? Here's a link comparing its operating costs to the Mirage 2000 and the F-16. This website could show bias, it is a Mirage-focused site, so I doubt it would favour the Gripen.

      Here's a site that mentions the Gripens flying cost as between $3000-$5000 per hour:

      Here's one that doesn't go into specific numbers, but claims that Brazil prefers the Gripen based on its "lowest acquisition and operating costs".

      Do a quick google of jet fighter operating costs and the results are all similar: Typhoon costs are fairly high, while the Gripen's is fairly low.

      This entire discussion may be pointless anyhow. Any fighter purchase will include its own assessment examining procurement, sustainment, and transition costs. If the "powers that be" decide one fighter is more cost effective than the other, then that will factor in the decision.

  14. I'll translate to you the content of the graph that you introduced. uitkomsten (outcome) van (of) den (the) multicriteria-analyse (multicriteria-analysis) in (in) punten (points). On the left hand side you see the points. Bovenwaarde (top value) and Onderwaarde (low value). The winner of this analysis is the Rafale F4 with a score of 7.4. The second best is the typhoon tranche 3 with a score equal to 6.8. The Gripen is pretty much on the bottom of the table. An advanced F-16 is judged to be better than a Gripen.

    I don't know what criteria the dutch relied upon. As a gripen proponent I wouldn't include this graph in an advertisement.

    1. Whoops. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I will remove it here, but I will include it in a future post.

      That will teach me to post stuff in a language I don't understand!

  15. Oh, and I failed to remark, that the JSF=F-35 got an average score of 7.0, better than the typhoon and Gripen. The graph was published by the dutch "ministerie van defensie", i.e. ministry of defence. This graphic was published in order to justify the decision for the JSF.

    1. Thanks. I'll intend on addressing the Dutch F-35 purchase in a post to come. There's a few interesting tidbits about it.

      Also, the JSF in the graph looks a lot more like the F-22 to me...

  16. More bad news for the F-35. Denmark appears to be hedging her bets. Although Denmark has invested 200 million $ in the F-35=JSF Denmark has decided to reopen the competition for the replacement of Denmark's aging fleet of F-16s. That's huge chunk of money Denmark is willing to throw away.
    The competitors are: "Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s JSF and Saab Gripen"

    I don't know why the Rafale hasn't been asked to enter the competition. Anyhow, this sounds very familiar.

    So far all of the partners in the JSF program have either reduced the number of planes on order (UK, Italy, Turkey), chosen replacements (Australia F-18) or reopened the competition for a new fighter (Canada, Denmark, Netherlands), except for Norway! ;-)

    The Norwegians may turn out to be the last customer to leave the sinking JSF=F-35....

  17. Germany have done the Baltic Patrol six times by now. On five of those patrols they used their ancient Phantoms, probably because it was the cheapest alternativ and they didn't expect any trouble. To keep this on topic I also have to mention that the Czech Republic have done two patrols with their rented Gripen C:s.

  18. Hmm.. it seems those who have been asking for eaven more range for the Gripen E/F might get their prayers answerd.. look at these numbers:

    What distinguishes Gripen E/F from Gripen C/D? There can be two versions of the new generation Gripen: the single-seater E and the two-seater F. Although the future Gripen E/F will be slightly larger than the current Gripen C/D version, it may be difficult to perceive the difference between them. The innovations enabling the significant performance improvement for Gripen E/F are found primarily on the inside.

    Gripen E Gripen C
    Length: 15.2 metres 14.1 metres

    Wingspan: 8.6 metres 8.4 metres

    weight: 16.5 tonnes 14 tonnes

    Thrust: >22,000 lbs. >18,000 lbs.

    Weapons stations: 10 8

    Max speed: Mach 2 Mach 2
    (plus Super-Cruise

    This is 2dm longer than the lenght mentioned for the Gripen NG as late as at Farnborough 2012, which most of us probably thoought would be referring to the Gripen F.

    It will be interesting to see what they use this extra length for, it will probably not be for fuel increase alone, but I would get suprised if it won't lead to a substansial increase..

    1. More than likely this has more to do with the different engine, as I believe most of the additional fuel will be located where the spot freed up by moving the landing gear. Although I also notice that the wingspan is slightly larger as well. Perhaps the additional space here and there will contribute to extra fuel storage...

      Good catch!

    2. Hmm.. no, the slightly longer engine should have been acconted for in previous statements.. & the wing span is the same as previously mentioned for Gripen NG, ie 8.6m. The length however.. for NG it was stated to be 14.9m, & if that was the F version, & the same differense in lenght applied as with the C/D versions, the E should have ended up somewhere around 14.2-14.3m. This would add almost 1m it seems.. a bit like building the F, but only putting 1 seat in it, keeping the gun onboard..

  19. Cross-post from the other page...

    Have you seen this?

    "Combat Aircraft ‏@CombatAir

    More to 'Red Flag' Gripen feature in April issue. MT @Rotorfocus Gripens achieved 4:1 kill ratio against USAF Aggressors"

    1. Very interesting!

      The "USAF Aggressors" were F-16Cs. I'll definitely keep my eye open for more on that story!

      Thanks again.

    2. Mmm.. not sure that was only F-16C's, although that's what that reporter mentiones. When you look at the videos from 13-2 you see there was a fair number of F-15 agressors launched aswell, & I doubt they got to cherry-pick which to go after or be attacked by.. ;)

  20. More news, Gripen related, but focused on Swedish Airforce:

  21. At the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute's "3DS Blog":

    "Gripen E for Canada’s New Fighter? LockMart F-35 Chief Retires"

    Plus lots of F-35 stuff.



  22. For 9 billion USD, Canada can get 150 Gripen E, 200 Gripen C or 72 Typhoon.

  23. So...Russia's never going to be aggressive again? This is why I hate it when people keep saying what "tomorrow's wars" will be. No one ever really knows what's coming. Yet nobody ever learns. Every day we hear "that will never happen again", then sure enough, it eventually happens again. "Militaries are always training for the last war they fought", now we've all become trapped in preparing to fight a war in Afghanistan, instead of preparing for the unknown.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling you out on you're position on the Gripen. Far from it. I think cheap and plentiful is what will win the day. It just bugs me when everybody sits back and says, "we won't need that in the future because X".