Gripen NG for Canada?

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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flighthawk128

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 18:38

Hi guys.

Ok, Canada is now stalled on a decision of what to buy as a new fighter (hell, we might not even buy new fighters until 2020).
I know, I know, I'm drudging up old material and I don't want to hear all about "the F35 is better than anything else out there" cause I know it and believe it. I just don't think we'll buy it cause it's too expensive. Don't argue with me on that point here cause it'll get too messy and we've already been through it.

Now, I read a lot of public opinion on Canadian sites, and some of them are pushing for us getting Gripen NGs. To my understanding, Gripen's are pretty similar in performance and ability to the F-16. Am I right or wrong?
The confusion is, some sites say that the NG will have thrust vectoring, while others say it won't. Can anybody clarify this?
Second, will thrust vectoring really have all that much effect? I can see how much impact it can have with a tailed airframe (eg X-31), but the Gripen's a close-coupled canard-delta, and some sites say that TVC won't have all that much effect.

I'm just wondering, cause SAAB is giving the government a pretty good deal, letting Canadian companies like Bombardier make over 70% of the aircraft and there are pretty good chances this is our next aircraft.
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andreas77

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 18:51

I know that SWAF was planning to add TVC as an upgrade of their Gripens but with all the cuts in the swedish defense in the 90s that program was cancelled.

I have followed the Gripen NG program pretty closely the last 5 years and I have only read about adding TVC when it comes to navalizing the Gripen, in that case the take-off weight could be increased a bit if using TVC.
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steakanddoritos

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 18:58

flighthawk128 wrote:Hi guys.
I just don't think we'll buy it cause it's too expensive.

The Gripen NG isn't much cheaper. Tech transfer and cooperation with American companies will have far greater economic benefits.

Now, I read a lot of public opinion on Canadian sites, and some of them are pushing for us getting Gripen NGs. To my understanding, Gripen's are pretty similar in performance and ability to the F-16. Am I right or wrong?


There are some parallels indeed. Then again, honchos running defense procurement don't give a s*** about what cranks write on the internet.

The confusion is, some sites say that the NG will have thrust vectoring, while others say it won't. Can anybody clarify this?


No TV.

Second, will thrust vectoring really have all that much effect? I can see how much impact it can have with a tailed airframe (eg X-31), but the Gripen's a close-coupled canard-delta, and some sites say that TVC won't have all that much effect.


Well, it will add weight, cost and complexity...

I'm just wondering, cause SAAB is giving the government a pretty good deal, letting Canadian companies like Bombardier make over 70% of the aircraft and there are pretty good chances this is our next aircraft.


Bear in mind that 35% of the Gripen is made in the US. The deal can be easily scuttled. Beyond that, local assembly costs a lot of money. Look at the Indian MMCRA s*** show. The Canadian military wants to have a strong partnership and interoperability with the USA, not Sweden. End of story.

and there are pretty good chances this is our next aircraft.


Nope.
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hb_pencil

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 20:53

flighthawk128 wrote:Hi guys.
Ok, Canada is now stalled on a decision of what to buy as a new fighter (hell, we might not even buy new fighters until 2020).
I know, I know, I'm drudging up old material and I don't want to hear all about "the F35 is better than anything else out there" cause I know it and believe it. I just don't think we'll buy it cause it's too expensive. Don't argue with me on that point here cause it'll get too messy and we've already been through it..


No, cost will be the crux of why the Gripen won't be chosen. At a Recurring flyaway price over $75 million (likely closer to 85~105 million), its provides significantly less value than the F-35... which would be around $85 million for its main fighters.

flighthawk128 wrote:Now, I read a lot of public opinion on Canadian sites, and some of them are pushing for us getting Gripen NGs. To my understanding, Gripen's are pretty similar in performance and ability to the F-16. Am I right or wrong?


Sure... but most of those public opinions are basically amateur opinions with very little actual basis to compare aircraft on an unbiased basis. Much of the information put out by Saab is horribly overstated and really not reflective of the aircraft's capability and performance. Thing is, those people don't understand that and think the aircraft is some sort of great deal.

flighthawk128 wrote:The confusion is, some sites say that the NG will have thrust vectoring, while others say it won't. Can anybody clarify this?
Second, will thrust vectoring really have all that much effect? I can see how much impact it can have with a tailed airframe (eg X-31), but the Gripen's a close-coupled canard-delta, and some sites say that TVC won't have all that much effect.
I'm just wondering, cause SAAB is giving the government a pretty good deal, letting Canadian companies like Bombardier make over 70% of the aircraft and there are pretty good chances this is our next aircraft.


Actually its a terrible deal: why would we want double or triple the cost of the aircraft? Why would we want to spool up an industry for three years of production, only to shut it down again? Its horribly expensive and worthless for the country's long term development. The industrial benefits program for the F-35 is far superior in this regards, both in terms of quantity and quality for Canada's industry.
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andreas77

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 21:19

hb_pencil wrote:No, cost will be the crux of why the Gripen won't be chosen. At a Recurring flyaway price over $75 million (likely closer to 85~105 million), its provides significantly less value than the F-35... which would be around $85 million for its main fighters.


Sources?

The SWAF will pay $42 million for each Gripen C converted to Gripen E.

https://www.fmv.se/sv/Nyheter-och-press ... -Gripen-E/

From what I've read, the ejection seat and parts of the wing can be reused, maybe the flare dispensers as well.
The rest will be brand new (engine, main fuselage, air ducts, computer hardware/software architecture, hydrualic system, cockpit, landing gear, fuel tanks, EW suite, PAWS-2 IR-sensors, AESA radar, satcoms, datalink, IRST). Thats probably around 95% of the value of the Gripen E.
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mixelflick

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Unread post17 Feb 2014, 23:50

Wait...

I thought Canada was terrified of single engine fighters over its territory?
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neurotech

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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 01:26

andreas77 wrote:
hb_pencil wrote:No, cost will be the crux of why the Gripen won't be chosen. At a Recurring flyaway price over $75 million (likely closer to 85~105 million), its provides significantly less value than the F-35... which would be around $85 million for its main fighters.


Sources?

The SWAF will pay $42 million for each Gripen C converted to Gripen E.

https://www.fmv.se/sv/Nyheter-och-press ... -Gripen-E/

From what I've read, the ejection seat and parts of the wing can be reused, maybe the flare dispensers as well.
The rest will be brand new (engine, main fuselage, air ducts, computer hardware/software architecture, hydrualic system, cockpit, landing gear, fuel tanks, EW suite, PAWS-2 IR-sensors, AESA radar, satcoms, datalink, IRST). Thats probably around 95% of the value of the Gripen E.

Depending on who's figures you use, 30-50% of the cost of a jet fighter is the spares, ground equipment and manufacturer (and Gov/AF or FMS) support fees. eg. a F/A-18F has a sticker price of $58m but cost $100m when delivered to the RAAF.

When they convert a Gripen-C to Gripen-E model, SAAB still only has to support one jet.

The legacy F/A-18A-Ds that were flown by Boeing contractors were taken from the depot storage and refurbished using program funds. Most jets cost less than $4m for refurbishment. A brand new F/A-18E Block II Super Hornet has roughly $15m worth of avionics in it when delivered. Cockpit displays, mission computers, AESA radar etc. Most of that would fit straight into a JAS-39E Gripen. The F-16 MLU Block 20 upgrades cost less than $20m per aircraft.
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linkomart

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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 07:40

neurotech wrote:
When they convert a Gripen-C to Gripen-E model, SAAB still only has to support one jet.

The legacy F/A-18A-Ds that were flown by Boeing contractors were taken from the depot storage and refurbished using program funds. Most jets cost less than $4m for refurbishment. A brand new F/A-18E Block II Super Hornet has roughly $15m worth of avionics in it when delivered. Cockpit displays, mission computers, AESA radar etc. Most of that would fit straight into a JAS-39E Gripen. The F-16 MLU Block 20 upgrades cost less than $20m per aircraft.


Thanks neorotech, interesting to read about the navy way. Your reasoning is correct, but for the Gripen things are a bit different.

Radar is new, whole avionics suite is new for the Gripen E. All the expensive stuff is new. In reality, I'm starting to think it's most for enviromental purposes they re-cycle some components from Gripen C.
The plane have to be re-cycled due to enviromental laws, and if you have a fuel vale that fits in to the E it seems kinda silly not to re-use it if it has unlimited life. Chair ( IF! they re-use it) needs cyclic overhaul so new or used isn't a big deal.
But it is not so much for economy, the savings are not fundamental, imho.

my 5 cent.
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andreas77

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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 08:02

neurotech wrote:Depending on who's figures you use, 30-50% of the cost of a jet fighter is the spares, ground equipment and manufacturer (and Gov/AF or FMS) support fees. eg. a F/A-18F has a sticker price of $58m but cost $100m when delivered to the RAAF.


Exactly, but it was the Recurring fly-away cost hb_pencil was claiming to be $85~105 million. The $42 million figure is that cost for a Gripen E SWAF will pay when a few low-tech parts are re-used from a Gripen C.

neurotech wrote:The legacy F/A-18A-Ds that were flown by Boeing contractors were taken from the depot storage and refurbished using program funds. Most jets cost less than $4m for refurbishment. A brand new F/A-18E Block II Super Hornet has roughly $15m worth of avionics in it when delivered. Cockpit displays, mission computers, AESA radar etc. Most of that would fit straight into a JAS-39E Gripen. The F-16 MLU Block 20 upgrades cost less than $20m per aircraft.



The Gripen C -> E conversion is not by far comparable to the refurbishings or MLUs you are describing here, the result will be a brand new aircraft with 0 hrs and a huge improvement when it comes to sensors, 20% extra thrust (and T/W ratio) etc. A comparable conversion would be a 3000 hrs Hornet with avionics from the 90s converted to a brand new Super Hornet.

Also, the manufacturing process is not very different from building a totally new aircraft since 95% of the parts will be new. (It might even be a more straightforward process to build a new aircraft than to first have to remove old parts from a Gripen C, test them, refurbish them etc.)
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andreas77

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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 08:09

linkomart wrote:In reality, I'm starting to think it's most for enviromental purposes they re-cycle some components from Gripen C.
...


It's actually to calm down the opposition/public that does not like the idea of getting new fighters when the ones we have are good enough and dont even have reached half of their expected lifetime. The process is in swedish media described as an "upgrade", but when you start look deeper into the subject and compare the specs of a Gripen C with a Gripen E you start to understand that not many parts will be reused.
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hb_pencil

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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 10:22

andreas77 wrote:
hb_pencil wrote:No, cost will be the crux of why the Gripen won't be chosen. At a Recurring flyaway price over $75 million (likely closer to 85~105 million), its provides significantly less value than the F-35... which would be around $85 million for its main fighters.


Sources?

The SWAF will pay $42 million for each Gripen C converted to Gripen E.

https://www.fmv.se/sv/Nyheter-och-press ... -Gripen-E/

From what I've read, the ejection seat and parts of the wing can be reused, maybe the flare dispensers as well.
The rest will be brand new (engine, main fuselage, air ducts, computer hardware/software architecture, hydrualic system, cockpit, landing gear, fuel tanks, EW suite, PAWS-2 IR-sensors, AESA radar, satcoms, datalink, IRST). Thats probably around 95% of the value of the Gripen E.



Frankly, the cost debate really illustrates the lengths Saab has gone to obscure information about their aircraft. What I really dislike is that people think that somehow saab can magically offer nearly as good combat capability at huge discounts over its rivals. Frankly, when you work in this field long enough, you know that's not true. There are no free lunches in Defence.

When Canadian evaluators scrutinized at what Saab was publically saying and the actual capability, it was clear there was a large discrepancy. Saab representatives stood in front of a parliamentary committee in Canada and stated their CPFH for the aircraft was $5000 dollars, with fuel and personnel. That's ridiculous. Fuel alone would be above that amount. Personally I don't think that number of 42 million you cite contains foreign equipment, such as the GE414, or it buries some of the avionics cost in the other development contract. I could be wrong but its an incredibly low figure for what they are offering.

Anyway, One source was this article from Monica Kleja:

http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/fordon_m ... 601869.ece

However that includes the cost of training ect. But there are other ways to understand the costs and relate them to the F-35.
So Canada's acquisition phase estimate for the purchase of 65 F-35s is $8.9 Billion dollars. However that includes internal costs of MILCON, project management and contingency. An actual defined contract (if one would exist for the F-35), would be roughly $7.9 billion.

So lets look at the current ongoing contracts.

Brazil 36 aircraft at $4.5 Billion (or prorated 65 at $8.1 billion)
Switzerland 22 aircraft at $3.3 Billion (prorated 65 at $9.7 billion)

Now the discrepancy between the two is is likely due in large part to the marginal cost over a fixed overhead (Fewer aircraft: larger proportion of a fixed costs). So all things being equal, the Recurring flyaway is probably in the $75~85 million category.

Norway offers another view. Back in 2008 the Norwegian government found the Gripen NG would be 30% more expensive than the F-35. Between 2008~2011, the Unit cost of the F-35 has risen approximately 20~25%, so the $85 million number feels about right. these numbers seem about right. Saab offered the Netherlands gripens in 2008 at about $75 million, which represents the low end of the spectrum.

There are also other problems with these figures. The gripen remains a paper airplane: much of the heavy development is not completed, and therefore will be subject to cost overruns. Second, Canada would require more gripens than F-35s, simply because it cannot replicate the Synthetic training environment that the F-35 has, or access to the US training system. That doesn't even go into the combat disparity, which would likely mean that more gripens would be needed to carry out a mission; entailing greater cost overall.
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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 11:33

Will Swedes done same thing with F414 as they did with F404? Make lot of parts in Sweden? That had lot of impact on RM-12 price, somewhere I read it is much more expensive then F404. If they just buy F414 then price of engine could be even lower then RM-12 so in engine department Gripen NG could be even cheaper then ordinary Gripen. Anyone have info about that?
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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 11:39

The Gripen E will use a pretty much standard GE-F414 (minor mods for single engine usage) and that will make a big difference in production cost for SAAB.

The Gripen E will for sure be cheaper to produce than the Gripen C, the usage of COTS is even higher with the Gripen E compared with earlier versions.

A SAAB manager claimed in the news a couple of years ago that SAAB can produce 28 Gripens today for the same cost as 10 produced Gripens just 5 years earlier.
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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 12:53

Gripen is single engine, so is F-35.

Thought Canada had a hang-up on single engine fighters?
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Unread post18 Feb 2014, 17:39

andreas77 wrote:The Gripen E will for sure be cheaper to produce than the Gripen C, the usage of COTS is even higher with the Gripen E compared with earlier versions.


Cheaper? What? The NG has new systems, heavier weight, a more expensive AESA radar, supercruise capability, etc. All these things make the price go up, not down.

andreas77 wrote:A SAAB manager claimed in the news a couple of years ago that SAAB can produce 28 Gripens today for the same cost as 10 produced Gripens just 5 years earlier.


Manufacturers can claim all they want - it's what the customer gets that really matters. As previous incidents have shown, the Gripen looks cheap on the surface, but behind the scenes, things don't look as rosy. One of the reasons the F-35 gets so much scrutiny is due to the transparency of the program - unparalleled media and military access. The Gripen has never been put under such stringent examination.
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