Finnish DefMin Interest in F-35s NOT Gripens

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hornetfinn

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Unread post26 Nov 2020, 10:51

Slightly (but not that much) off-topic, but didn't want to start own thread for this. IMO, this is awesome video made by Finnish Defence Forces about neutralizing an important enemy position using joint operations (Navy, Army, Air Force).

Shows really well how these weapons work and what the effects are. Weapon systems used:

    Spike ER coastal defence (and anti-tank) missile
    GMLRS rocket launcher
    JDAM launched by F/A-18C Hornet

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magitsu

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Unread post26 Nov 2020, 12:59

Janes is writing about the Industrial partnership side. This tweet chain is useful unless you have access behind the paywall. It suggests that Saab has been very fast in building up this side. I'm not sure whether you could say it's the one to beat like the author suggests, but clearly it has impressed. For example GE 414 assembly seems to be offered.

THREAD: #HXhanke – for online subscribers to #Janes Defence Weekly, you an access my feature being published in next week’s issue about the #IndustrialParticipation proposals for #Finland now! https://customer.janes.com/portal/Accou ... 798426-JDW (paywall)
I get some great insight from bidders including @SaabFi, @BAES_Finland, and @BoeingDefense on their proposals and strategies. Initial feedback included a request for an Executive Summary, so prepare for a long read!
Some key points here…
@SaabFi is clearly becoming the bid to beat from a number of perspectives with #GripenE and #GlobalEye offering. But with the process being very fair, it's no guarantee of victory.
Saab AB and Saab Finland Proposals include establishing an assembly facility in Finland for #GripenE and assembling the
@GEAviation F414 engine for the aircraft
, adding a third line to the Gripen “ecosystem”.
A systems centre is also to be established in #Finland to allow for Finland to grow the system and work with capability improvements.
@SaabFi also has had clearance to receive credit for some of its work that has already begun, not certain which ones, but probably LADM and some of the other R&D efforts going on in country. So they're already ahead on any obligations.

@BAES_Finland has also been proposing FACO in the country, and a range of capabilities for #radar #test and #repair in the country.
There’s also some interesting info in there on what @TeamTempest and the Franco-German #FCAS projects mean for #Finland, and how the bidders view it.
The online article includes some added extras on areas of #IndustrialParticipation, such as #AdditiveManufacturing and #3Dprinting, as well as the Dickensianlly titled “Ghosts of Offsets Past”.

-- then some less interesting tweets about past Hornet acquisition offsets


https://twitter.com/securitysplat/statu ... 7366138889

Unfortunately the tweets include nothing about F-35. But the recent 4 F-35 assembly offer to Switzerland indicate that the partnerships don't fully limit LM's opportunities in this regard. Finnish industry isn't looking to become fighter manufacturer (as opposed to just doing enough to learn to maintain them), so I'm not sure how useful bigger schemes are. They fill the 30% IP requirement faster though.
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magitsu

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Unread post05 Dec 2020, 03:26

HX project leader Lauri Puranen was interviewed on December 1st. Translated below:

What new capabilities does the HX system bring to the Air Force, the other branches of defense, and their cooperation?

A key goal of the HX system is to replace the performance of the outgoing Hornet (HN). Hornet’s performances in the Defense Forces include air defense, i.e. interception of airborne enemies, air-to-ground support for the Army, air-to-sea-fire and targeting support to the Navy, and stand-off range fire effects that is currently limited to the Hornet.

In addition, intelligence, surveillance and management support, as airborne platforms are, in practice, also reconnaissance aircraft that, while flying, are able to gather huge amounts of information about our immediate surroundings and distribute it to the Army and Navy. These are the key tasks.

Of course, there will be new performances in all these tasks as the image of the war changes. At this point in the acquisition, I can’t open that further to what new performances each HX candidate would bring, as they are each different. Of course, these new capabilities will only become clear to us in detail when the final offer is received and this is all very sensitive information.

What measures still remain in the implementation of the HX project?

The key thing is that next year’s budget includes the entire HX project budget for the entire procurement period. In the Government's proposal to Parliament, it is currently EUR 10 billion. The decision is central to taking this project forward.

Next, right in early 2021, we will have a final call for tenders for HX bidders who have about three months to respond. In the spring, with these prospects by the end of April, we will receive final offers from the bidders.

After that, here we will start working hard as we start evaluating the bids: do they meet all three of our mandatory requirements and decision areas (security of supply, life cycle costs, and industrial collaboration).

If the offer meets those conditions, then it will have access to an assessment of military performance
, which will take weeks per candidate, when assessing the performance it will provide to the Finnish defense system until 2060. This will take months. After that, there will first be presentations within the Defense Administration and finally the matter will be taken to the Government for decision by the end of 2021, as outlined in the government program.

Are the competitors' HX delivery packages ready?

They are quite ready, because we have already had a long negotiation process so far. Since the launch of the fighter project, we have sent two invitations to tender - first a preliminary and then a refinement. We have also had four week-long negotiations with each candidate so far to build the HX package. We have responded to the packages presented by the bidders by telling us what shortcomings we think they have and encouraging them to offer us the best possible military performance for the Finnish defense system. This process has resulted in each provider’s HX package being approximately 90% complete. Yes, everyone still has work to do, but I think it will be easy for all of them to do it on the basis of the final call for tenders.

Have differences in the military performance of HX solutions offered by different competitors been observed in the evaluation and simulation carried out so far?

We won't evaluate or report on the performance of different providers in public. In principle, we haven't yet compared the HX options with each other, but have focused on building the HX entity. Of course, different candidates come up with different solutions, the performance of which is evaluated once the final answers are obtained.

The aim is to achieve FOC in 2030 and IOC in 2027. Transition during which both the old and new platform will be used is going to take 5 years, with the capability of the old system declining slowly and the new one increasing steadily.

Leeway to acquire the upcoming HX capabilities over the next 12 years until 2033: what could this be used for?

The premise is that the majority of the HX entity will be acquired at once in connection with the acquisition decision. The budget sets a clear price cap for us, but technically we have an order authorization until 2031. However, the entire funding is a 5-year so-called a transfer appropriation that can be used until 2035. The idea is that because this is a long process, new weapon systems or new missiles that are better suited to us may come up later. So we look at the time from the end of what and when to get. So this is an example. On the other hand, the postponement of procurement is not an end in itself, but the aim is to complete everything as far as possible for the start of the operational use of the new equipment.

Is part of the total budget of the HX project of EUR 10 billion granulated for other costs or is it used entirely for procurement?

Roughly speaking, 10% of the budget is earmarked for our own use, which finances the structural changes required to implement the new system: the integration of the new system with our other defense system, such as management interfaces, construction costs and staff deployment costs. Although the training comes with HX delivery, staff salaries and travel costs must be paid. About 10% of the funding for the HX project has been set aside for all of this, meaning that roughly about 90% of the budget is for HX competitors.

http://www.suomensotilas.fi/hx-ohjelmaj ... i-puranen/


The budgetary flexibility of being able to spend the money between 2021 and 2033 seems to allow waiting for new avionics and missiles to come into production. That's good, but it's slightly hard to gauge how they could be taken into account in the performance evaluation. It's probably still going to be based on 120D vs Meteor, JASSM-ER vs JSM etc. For example in the Growler's case it's evident that the further NGJ pods (than NGJ-MB) need to be left for future consideration.
Now there probably isn't a rush to get a new DSCA in 2021 also for 120D and AARGM-ER (both notably absent) since all of the money doesn't need to be spent immediately.
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magitsu

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 22:42

Interesting tidbit from early 2020:

Apparently according to Boeing, the maintenance of current Finnish Hornet fleet is 90% in Finland.

They posit that the use of Super Hornet is cheaper than Hornet
Though that might not be true since US Hornets are worn out af whereas Finnish Hornets never even received SLEP due to heading into retirement with rather modest 4k hours per frame.

https://www.kainuunsanomat.fi/artikkeli ... 178024025/
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steve2267

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Unread post07 Dec 2020, 23:06

Only 4k hours per airframe?

Ring... Ring...

Is that Trudeau calling?
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post08 Dec 2020, 02:57

He probably should :wink: . Here's one source for it:
In the original type approval, the Hornet, and in particular its structures, were given a lifetime of 6,000 flight hours per aircraft, defined as flight hours. The Air Force has examined that with current use, the Hornets will fly at most 4,500 flight hours per frame.
Even this necessitates that the jets undergo a structural modification project, which enables the raising of flight hours from less than 4,000 to 4,500. The goal is that each frame has undergone structural modification process by 2017.

https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/1 ... sAllowed=y (AF cadet thesis, pg 7)

So it's 4000-4500 hours by the time they are done in 2030.

It's known that it was 100k total, with the highest at 2.4k in summer 2010. Which would've been 1.6k avg (62 + 2 lost earlier in their life cycle). https://www.tekniikkatalous.fi/uutiset/ ... ecc6cbdb5b

The current amount is probably 3k based on the previous + knowledge that the Finance Ministry has allocated 8-9k flight hours each year to the fleet (so 80-90k o top of that 100k).

edit: Found another one.

"By the end of 2018 Finnish Hornets had flown between 2,100-3,200 hours each, apart from one which had 3,700 hours."
https://suomenkuvalehti.fi/jutut/kotima ... -kuluista/
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Unread post08 Dec 2020, 06:17

Did you also read this bit:
Even this necessitates that the jets undergo a structural modification project, which enables the raising of flight hours from less than 4,000 to 4,500.


Meaning the Finnish Hornets are done by the time they retire, even to reach those 4500 hours structural mods were needed.
This is much the same in Switzerland. Air to air only* and short transitioning times to training areas means Swiss and Finnish Hornets have a much harder life.
Swiss Hornets have 2600 - 3900 hours on the clock as of early 2020. To reach their planned 6000 hours of service life, missions where high loads occur need to be managed and distributed among the fleet, otherwise to most stressed jets won't make it beyond 5000 hours.

* Yes I know Suomi Hornets have an air to ground role since a couple of years.
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Unread post08 Dec 2020, 07:43

They did receive some work, but certainly nothing in the scale of Australian and Canadian SLEPs. They won't be done by the time they go out, since they need to keep around 1/5 or such of the hours unused in case an actual war broke out. Country like Canada could think differently about that leftover in relation to its current fleet. It's still tough sell due to large differences between A/B and C/D. Their maintenance would also be very expensive post 2030, so there would be incentive to start cannibalization. But that would work much better for an aggressor company...they truly can use the last percentages of the frames because there's no readiness need. Their selling point then would be vast availability of retired Hornet pilots. So maybe someone will consider the Finnish and Swiss Hornets for this purpose.
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Unread post14 Dec 2020, 16:49

https://www.fastems.com/news/fastems-to ... mbly-line/

Fastems to Deliver a Laser Cleaner Robot for F-35 Lightning II Wing Assembly Line

Fastems’ AutoSLC solution is based on a robotized system, which is equipped with a laser ablation scan head, designed to automatically remove primers and other protective coatings from F-35 wing components. Laser ablation provides a pristine surface to which nutplates can be mechanically bonded without using attach rivets. Previous methods of coating removal entailed manual sanding and solvent wiping which proved to be timely and yielded inconsistent bonding results. The Fastems AutoSLC system will process more than 3,000 drilled holes, reducing touch labor hours and improving aircraft quality for the end customer.

Fastems and Lockheed Martin have previously collaborated to integrate the F-35 Lightning II Forward Fuselage Machine Tool Transfer Line (MTTL) in 2012. The MTTL has been critical in improving safety, quality, and efficiency for the F-35 forward fuselage manufacturing process.


Finnish company, more at the source. Interesting that cooperation has been done since 2012 already.

edit: Actually since 2007, since this article details cooperation with BAE UK for skins and rear.
On 21st May 2007, what is believed to be the world’s first flexible manufacturing system (FMS) for automated production of components made from carbon fibre sheet went live at BAE Systems Samlesbury, UK. It is being used to produce around 120 different skins that form the aft fuselage and empennage (vertical and horizontal tails) of three variants of the F-35 Lightning II.

https://www.fastems.com/case/bae-systems-samlesbury/

Video about the Fastems factory automation at BAE Samlesbury
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vyoal1WiB8
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Unread post15 Dec 2020, 08:40

Thank you magitsu, that was very interesting indeed. I've totally missed this, although I've known Fastems is really good company. This is extremely impressive given that they are a tiny company (by international standards) with less than 500 employees and coming from a country that has not been part of F-35 program.
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Unread post18 Dec 2020, 00:28

The last negotiation round has ended.

Preparation for asking for the Best and Final Offers (BAFO) has commenced. It will be sent by the end of January.
Replies are expected during the spring or summer.

The Finnish government will decide by the end of 2021.

https://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/art-2000007688216.html

***
It's very unlikely that we would hear about the ranking as much as the leaked previous Swiss evaluation.

There are still few things to note. They need to pass/fail ladder (including things like security of supply) to even reach the final step, performance evaluation (HX solution within the Finnish defense system) step. Only it will be ranked.

They won't be sectoring them (A/A, A/G etc.) like the Swiss did. The evaluation will be run in long-lasting wargaming scenarios where the capability to keep producing missions during several "laps" is key. So you likely want to optimize between enough frames to begin with and then try to keep your attrition low. Less fancy planes likely have to resort to more expensive stand-off weapons and things like that.

It could be useful to think this in the terms of attrition kill + mission abort kill and user-defined kill. The former is evaluated during those laps - we could expect more F-35s to return after each lap even if their initial amount could be smaller than some others. The latter pair could be more related to availability and is more of a question mark for F-35. Even if you bring them home, they need to be able to produce those laps instead of spending time in repair etc. How these are balanced within the evaluation can only be guessed. But it will include components like these.
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Unread post18 Dec 2020, 01:52

The gist of the matter from a Finnish cadet study. https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/1 ... sequence=2

A fighter which hasn't received significant investments into Aircraft Combat Survivability features is likely cheaper to acquire, and at the same time that fighter may be better performing.

With a passing glace, it may seem that the cheaper and better performing fighter could be the better purchase.

However, in combat the fighter with better Aircraft Combat Survivability features may be more efficient and overall more cost-effective.

For example, let's take an operation where 100 fighters perform 60 bombing missions. Fighter's Aircraft Combat Survivability has been improved, resulting in an improved probability of survival from 98% to 99%. Since the operation, 20 have been saved by the improvements in Aircraft Combat Survivability. At the same time, the number of bombed targets have increased by 22%.

The result is that a linear improvement in Aircraft Combat Survivability produces exponential results in the field of efficiency.

Gripen fanboys' faces after internalizing this (if only they were able to): :oops:

If the F-35 reaches the final evaluation step, with sufficient number of initial frames (Finnish geography slight challenge to availability at a given time/place), it should produce a hell of a challenge to overcome for the rest.

Outside of the HX competition's official scope the new fighters' maintenance must not surpass 10% of yearly FDF budget ( roughly 300M€ can be expected). Many consider this the toughest one to meet. It probably steers away from tunnel visioning the max amount of frames for more weapon-related performance which produce more initial acquisition cost but not as much maintenance cost. It's also been described by the HX project leader Puranen that less performing ones are expected to compensate their deficiencies by using more expensive weapons for the same task.
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ricnunes

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Unread post18 Dec 2020, 15:27

magitsu wrote:The gist of the matter from a Finnish cadet study. https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/1 ... sequence=2
A fighter which hasn't received significant investments into Aircraft Combat Survivability features is likely cheaper to acquire, and at the same time that fighter may be better performing.



The funny thing with the above and regarding the Gripen is that it's neither cheaper (it costs more per unit than the F-35) and neither better performing since its performance/performing is questionable at best, specially when you start adding stores (such as weapons) on it.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post20 Dec 2020, 20:51

magitsu wrote:Outside of the HX competition's official scope the new fighters' maintenance must not surpass 10% of yearly FDF budget ( roughly 300M€ can be expected). Many consider this the toughest one to meet.


If this definition is used:
Cost per flying hour (CPFH) is a well-known DoD cost metric. As the name suggests, CPFH is calculated as an aircraft fleet’s costs divided by its flying hours


Then that would amount to 23.438 € per flight hour, or ~28.729 $. They should all be able to stay within that amount IMO.
(200 hours a year and 64 units).
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Unread post21 Dec 2020, 13:55

ricnunes wrote:
magitsu wrote:The gist of the matter from a Finnish cadet study. https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/1 ... sequence=2
A fighter which hasn't received significant investments into Aircraft Combat Survivability features is likely cheaper to acquire, and at the same time that fighter may be better performing.



The funny thing with the above and regarding the Gripen is that it's neither cheaper (it costs more per unit than the F-35) and neither better performing since its performance/performing is questionable at best, specially when you start adding stores (such as weapons) on it.


I think all the competitors have pretty extensive aircraft combat survivability features with reduced signatures, EW systems, advanced sensors, MLD/MAWS, networking, countermeasures systems and traditional things like ballistic survivability. Of course F-35 is totally on a league of its own when it comes to almost all of these features. Basically the others get a lot less for similar weight, volume and money spent on these features. Funny thing is that need to reduce signatures in F-35 also brought some very important advantages when it comes to performance. Namely internal weapons and fuel carriage also gave an aircraft that could do Mach 1.6, 9G turning, 50+ degree AoA while carrying similar weapons and fuel load where the competitors are pretty firmly subsonic, about 5G turning and <20 degree AoA. It also allows it to carry by far the heaviest combat loads as it doesn't need to carry big and heavy EFTs for real world air-to-ground missions.

Now if somebody designed a modern fighter without all these systems, it would have insane kinematic performance. Of course it would be horrible combat aircraft these days, but it would be magnificent airshow aircraft.
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