Helikon tex on puolalainen kuperkeikka- ja toiminnallista vaatetta valmistava yritys. Helikonin sarjassa on mitä laadukkain valikoima erilaista kangaspuolen varustetta eri sarjoissa suunnattuna ihan jokapäiväiseen “grey man” tyyppiseen sukkulointiin URBAN linjasta, että puskatemppuiluun sopivaa varustetta BUSHCRAFT-linjasta. Unohtamatta toiminnalliseen ammuntaa suunnattua varustekimaraa RANGE linjastolla. Tänäpäivänä perehdymme Swagman Roll ponchoon. Olemassa on myös saman ponchon ns basic versio.
HATKA puolestaan on Suomalainen perheyritys, josta olen saanut aina ystävällistä ja asiantuntevaa palvelua, ja ehdotuksia varusteista,kun olen heiltä niistä kysellyt. Hatka antoi minulle swagmanin, että pääsen tekemään siitä esittelyä.
Kyseinen poncho on ollut minulla noin vuoden päivät, ja Swagman roll on osoittautunut erittäin hyväksi kaveriksi Lapin moni-ilmeisessä mutta kylmässä säässä. Sen lisäksi, että poncho on palvellut taukovaatteena kylmemmillä keleillä, se voidaan myös kiinnittää sadeviitan alle vuoriksi ns Woobien tapaan. Hyvänä puolena Woobieen verrattuna on huppu: Pään saa vedettyä ponchon hupun kanssa sadeviitan huppuun, jolloin korbatkin pysyvät mukavan lämpiminä. kuulemisen kanssa on tietenkin silloin vähän huonoa.
Kuten mainittu Swagman on yhteensopiva NATO-standardin sadeviitan kanssa, ja sitä voidaan käyttää kesäisemmillä keleillä makuupussina, ja talvemmalla makuupussin lisäpussina. Myös “jouluisen runsas”-reservitaistelija mahtuu pujottautumaan pussiin. Hartioille ei kylläkään minun tapauksessani ole tilaa sisälle asti, ellei jätä vetoketjua hieman auki. Vaikka omakehun puolelle menee, niin todettakoon, että en tarvitse jenkkifutisharttareita joutuakseni menemään poikittain ovista.
survivalhenkinen monikäyttöinen poncho
sopii hyvin taukotakiksi tai NATO-sadeviitan alle lämmikkeeksi
voidaan käyttää myös makuupussin sisäpussina lisälämpöä varten
The Finnish main aviation event was again in last weekend. All Hornet replacement program (HX-program) hopefuls were in attendance some with mock ups and all with pavillions. All HX fighters were in air and Gripen E made first appearance in air manouvering (this is because of state of flight testing and proving program.) I had the good fortune to be invited for the pressday, so I got to listen and see the latest slideshows manufactures had to offer.
The real winner in HX race seems to be the MBDA: unless Boeing’s bid is succesful, MBDA will look to sell another 600+ Meteors!
SAAB JAS-39 E/F Gripen. Sweden will make the fighter YOU want!
SAAB is another of the forerunners in HX race: Gripen E has everything a fighter needs speed, manouverability and a great primary Air to Air missile in MBDA Meteor. The “Dinge an Sich” of the offer is the two GlobalEye AWACS planes. This cannot be overstated: FAF has so far been in “Warsaw Pact” air control mode, with fortificated air defense commands without airborne radar and controll assets. Global Eye would change all this and bring the Finnish air defense to current millenium.
Global Eye’s S-band ERIEYE radar can see virtually everything in 450km radius thoug the instrumental range is 550km. ERIYE radar is housed in a skibox over the fuselage of the Bombadier 6000 platform, and provides about 150 degree coverage both sides of the aeroplane.
The S-band means 2-4GHz frequency range, and wave lenght of about 7,5 to 15 centimeters. Because of nature of electromagnetic waves, this area brings boons of rain and general weather penetration and stealth fighter detection (Stealth bombers, however, are sufficiently large to still remain stealthy). Banes are required high pulse strenght and quite large antennas. This is due to T/R module sizes required to be able to operate on desired wave lenght. This also affects the radar resolution.
The Gripen E is as of this writing (08/2021) still in flight testing and verification process which are going according to plan according to Magnus Skogberg of SAAB. Newer and bigger Gripen has all it takes to be successful fighter in Finnish Air Force in 2020’ies and beyond: good A2A missile, nifty electronics and small logistical footprint. On the other hand Gripen is small and single engine. This translates into Gripen E still being quite stealthy in visible domain, and low emitting in NIR and MIR wavelengths. On trade-off Gripen E’s Leonardo’s Raven 05 AESA radar has to fit in quite small nosecone of Gripen E, and is thus limited in number of T/R elements it can carry. This translates into radar being less powerful than her counterparts in other HX hopefuls.
Having single engine means obviously that there is no redundancy in case of engine failure, and that there is about half the electrical power available (depending of make and manufacture obviously) than to twin engined HX-hopefulls. Future will show just how this deficiency might turn out to be, but as an direct energy weapons are making their way into fighter sized platforms, the loading time for Lasers or power output for other electrical doohickeys will be less than twin engined fighters. This might be devastating in 2050ies, but might not be, depending on evolution battery and direct energy technology, a showstopper even then.
Swedish gov’t has expressed their commitment to build Gripen’s EW capabilities to standard Finland wants, So that in essence Sweden would be getting the fighter Finland deemed sufficient. Further the current government is left leaning and in their view Sweden can do no wrong so politically SAABs offer is also quite strong. ALso even the most pidgeonish members of publick see aligning with Sweden as sort of NATO light, which might not arouse political suspicions in Kremlin.
One interesting sidetrack here is the Borderguards MVX-program. IF SAAB gets the nod, the Global eyes will, as per data sharing and requirements of defense of realm, be a part of maritime border guarding of Finland. BUT as Finland is long country, 1500km north to south and 500km east to west, it is quite clear that Global eye doing air surveillance in Sodankylä area cannot at the same time have a peek of what is coming closer to Åland islands. Thus two more Global eyes with Border guards colours and crews would remedy this kind of situation. However people in charge of MVX program stressed that SAAB has answered to RFI, but HX-program is not in any way tied to Borderguards MVX program. Still, IMHO, having same platform in Borderguards surveillance squadron and the FAFs AWACS squadron would not be a bad thing.
Eurofighter Typhoon: Industry and intelligence co-operation.
Typhoon is a bit of a hard to term participant in HX competition: Definately it is the clearest air dominance fighter of the bunch, and if Finland was simply looking for Air defense fighter without groundpounding requirements we would have no competition at all. Eurofighter is the fastest, flies highest and maybe even longest of the hopefulls. What is the other selling point besides the fighter is the question with BAE bid. There was talk about giving Finns access to intelligense assets (satellite imaginery) in the deal and now participation in developement of next generation radar and engine works are given as sweeteners for the deal.
Great Britain is important defense ally for the Finnish Defence forces and IS still militarily most powerfull country in Europe. Further EUROfighter really is an european project so the can be pressure from EU partners to give to nod to Common European fighter developement.
AS said Typhoon as Air dominance machine has all doctor orderedIt flies high and fast, is manouvarable, has all kinds of armament to effect all kinds of targets. BAE test pilot mentioned the the electrical power coming out of EJ-2000 . I did as if there is some kind of Direct energy weapon in pipelines for the Typhoon, and genteman in question stated “No”. So.. THAT would mean that CAPTOR AESA radar cannot do direct energy, in other words fry approaching missiles as the come in range, nor there seem to be a laser weaponry in the paperwork either. Suprising!
Industrial co-operation and sovereighn use were quite prominently iterated for listeners in sunny South helsinki by the Typhoon mockup.
Dassault Rafale Strategic partnership in EU.
The french had brought in the honourable mrs Agnès Cukierman to tell about the French offer. This fact sort of underlines the French selling point of the Dassault Rafale fighter: “Strategic partnership in EU”. Don’t get me wrong: Rafale is very capable fighter and has seen combat all over Africa and Middle-East and I’m sure when used right well capable of killing Suhois with good drop ratio. So there is no problems with the plane!
Only thing I have questioned in my mind is the Rafales EW capability up to par with S-400/450/500 systems? Can Rafale be effectively be deployed with SPECTRE system and expect them to full fill their missions. Not to worry said General (ret)Joel Rode because Rafale is the pre strategic nuclear weapon carrier in Armée de l’air et de l’espace it will be required to perform deep penetration. Also you can significantly enhance your chances with good mission planning. go in rain, in night and low and fast, and you have good chances of pulling trough a success. Good enough I guess. Still this leaves the question of anti radiation missile a bit open: Will it be JSM (originally Norwegian weapon) or AGM-88 ER. The picture here shows JSM, but it is a tad unsuited for the role.
Dassault Rafale has the capability to carry the BVR Meteor and MICA will be the other, WVR, missile in package. MICA IR is usefull as a sensor as well, as you can get IR picture from the missile back to the fighter, and use basic triangulation to do nifty 9th grade maths and get firing solutions and other data passively. Other than that HAMMER/AASM is good guidance package for iron bombs, Stand off weapon would be MBDA Storm Shadow
MICA would also have a very respective range for a “secondary” missile as 80km (ASRAAM +25km, and IRIS T 25km) which is more or less the same as offered by the current FAF AMRAAM C-7. So in max OCA/DCA Rafale in a sence has “mostest missiles”.
Lockheed F-35A Lightning It’s not as expensive as your think!
Lockheed Martins presser was for the grownups in HX-press community. The message was really “F-35 is a lot cheaper that you have been led to believe!” One has to concur, the price is trickling down and synergy is kicking in which is fine and good.
There will be “robust” weapons package included in HX bid but what is there in it is everybody’s educated guess. BVR missile: AMRAAM D or METEOR? WVR: ASRAAM or Sidewinder? Ground attack missile: SPEAR 3 or JAGM? Anti Radiation AAMRG-ER or JSM? Stand off/cruise missile AGM-158 JASSM?
Lockheed Martin’s offer lives and dies by the stealth: F-35 has not been designed as a maneuvering platform: it is not a fighter it is an assassin. It will kill you when/if you have no clue it is there, but if you can get a kill-chain on it, F-35 is in dire straits. And no I don’t think F-35 is incapable of maneuvering, it just is not her forte. It is one thing to get into advantageous position and stick a needle in enemy’s posterior than to try to be victorious in within visual range maneuvering fight with Suhois or MiGs
So I’m a bit skeptical about continued value of the (X-band or microwave length) stealth for the future decades, but it IS important right now. No manufacturer has overlooked the effect of microwave stealth in their designs and future platforms like Tempest are stealthy in X-band, so there is that. Still S-band radars have no such limitations, so that eats into the effectiveness of X-band stealth.
Boeing F/A-18 E/F/G and the Loyal Wing man: it has been so good, why not continue?
Boeing was responssible of the news bomb this time. Last year I asked is Loyan wingman part of HX deal and they denied it, but now they owned up and said “it is part of the options”. So Airpower Teaming System ATS or Loyal Wingman is on the table.
Finlands air warfare domain is the most challenging in the world. country is without great changes of terrain and lies pretty flat. All the AFBs are (somewhat) within radar range of the only potential adversary. So while F/A-18E is not that stealthy the ATS is, so Loyal wing man can go and have a peek and networking capabilities will take care of what the jockey in F/A-18 E sees. Thus you only risk losing relatively inexpensive platform and not a full blown fighter. In basic OCA/DCA scenario the ATSes would fly 50-80km forward of F-18s and when they pick up enemies, thay would act like forward observers do in artillery concept. They would help to guide in the missiles that the shooters/arsenal fighters, fired. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
The ATS concept is applicable to most scenarios HX-fighters are expected to perform. Other than that Boeing plays to its strenght, It has been good, you guys know us from 90’ies onwards, you know the consept and you know the plane. All fair and good points. Also the armaments are on known quality. the finns would stay with AMRAAM and eventually move to D-model, other armaments from legacy hornets era could be used at first and new ones brought online as they surface. so no great thrills there.
Then there is the Growler. Growler can deny the enemy the whole killchain. Let me elaborate. When Growler is in air with New Generation Jammer pods and protecting say a strike package, There might be a S-band search radar, Growler jams it with low band jammer, then it can also jam the microwave links that help command posts to control missile batteries. After that if air defense battery gets the strike package, the Growler can jam their X-band fire control radars. Ditto for fighter assets. So Boeing claim they can make pigs breakfast from the whole kill chain. Not just the last part that involves the X-band fire control radars. This is another strength of Rhino bid.
Concerns rise from the continued use of F/A-18 E/F/G by the primary user: United States Navy. Even though Germany picked F/A-18E and Growler earlier this year, 120 + fighters in Europe might not be enough to drive development further. This still is the mountain Boeing has to climb.
Other things of note in Kaivari21 are: cool aviators given by Prat and Whitney and Lockheed. SAAB had really neat Global EYE caps for us lemmings. Also the coffee cup was in same camo! It is nice to see leftie crap has not surfaced in France, cos we could still see cute girls in orange and black in Dassault Pavillion. Also they had their own winery produts. Being had maybe the coolest cap in Growler and in blue and white. Typhoon sales team made us laugh oftenest.
It has been a long while since I last wrote about the HX-things in this Blog. Now that Kaisaniemi air day is almost upon us maybe it is time to make something. Again Command modern operations is a game, not a real simulation environment, so accuracy is maybe on 50%-70% ballpark.
I’m going to put all results in this page as they come ready for viewers benefit. I have only made a few practice runs before real thing, and didn’t made statistics on the runs due family time constraints.
As can be seen from the scorecard, Eurofighter Typhoon caused substantial destruction on VVS side of things: 37 fighters and AWACS, 19 TELAR vehicles plus 15 different kind of bridges all together. The bridges and the logistical isolation of battle area is sort of the point here, but caused hole in opposing airforce would also be a boon in short to medium run. As I mentioned I did not do any kind of statistics on the scenario, but I venture to make and educated guess that “normal range” of losses for Finnish Air Force would be 3-7 fighters considering the complexity of situation.
So what we found out is that given enough flights FAF with Typhoon is indeed capable of offensive operations against VVS, but venturing outside of Finnish aerospace might prove costly thing to do. Also I feel some of the losses sustained by the FAF are due the limitations of AI in the game. So out of the 42 fighters out in scenario 5 were lost in this round.
Meteor performed 37 spalshes out of 76 meteors fired (plus 3 ASRAAMS) give Kp of 0,486-0,468. So Missile performance is quite par on what we saw in Arctic Night scenario where we had 0,486 Hit probability over a few runs of scenario. And as .500 would be a hit in each salvo, or “perfect score” [talking CMAMO, there is a possibility to change preferenses to fire a many missiles as you would want to each target, but I have left it alone, as a salvo fire each target seems to be the preferred way to go globally. (Well salvo of 2 against gen 4 and gen 5 fighters, gen 1-3 only get 1) It would maybe be better for Lightning II, as they only carry 4 AMRAAMs.]
SPEAR EW and SPEAR 3 missiles performed in SEAD role in combo quite well: As long as you get the SPEAR 3s in about same time in as SPEAR EW flies close you are good. If the timing is off Pantsir and Buk systems are quite capable of making pigs breakfast of your salvo. Video is of Defense webs production and quite informative about the systems and also how to attack them.
So FAF would be quite cabable to go on offensive counter air operations against VVS and support interdiction/deep strike missions against close by targets in Carelian Isthmus and East-Carelia and thus provide army help in war fighting. This of course has some limits as Finnish establisment has decided to honour uncle Joe’s dictates about sufficient Air Force size for Finland. And for that obscure reason to limit the Air Force to 64 fighters.
We do know that Eurofighter Typhoon is Air Dominance optimized fighter in HX competition, and is well capable to over-match current crop of Suhois. The problem in Typhoons HX run are the cost per fighter and cost per flight hour. (Two turbojets just suck up twice as much gas as one does.) The Eurofighter is quite prolific fighter in world so there is no fear of ending up as the sole user, and as Typhoon will be constantly used in action around the globe, the armaments will be top notch all the way to 60’s. The politics are also there as three major EU partners are using and developing the fighter on wards. So there might very well be heavy EU pressure from German/Italian/Spanish quarter. UK is no longer part of EU, but Finland has emerging military co-operation with the British so this will also add weight into scales in Typhoon’s favor Also there would be clear path to take part in Tempest development deals.
For the last few weeks I have been working on Offensive counter air/deep strike scenario in Kannas Eastern Karelia region. This would be one of scenarios HX candidates would have to show their suitability. Again the premise comes from RAND scenario of NATO-Russia war in Baltic region. This scenario is a few hours into the conflich where Finnish Air Force has to cut the supply routes into the combat zone. The prospected combat zone is inLappeenranta-Viipuri-Imatra area, and FAF is to cut supplyroutes to said area. This entails destruction of bridges in Kannas and in Syväri area. There is XXX bridges in area, and destruction of those will hamper the troop movement and resupply in area.
The Russian Aerospace forces (Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii, VVS for short) are again present from their current bases and are flying DCA missions. VVS flies with assortment of MiG-31s SU-27s and Su-33s from their respective bases. There is also a sprinkle of A”A assets protecting the bridges and area defense systems to give more broad cover over Kannas and Ladoga area. Notably there is A-100 AWACS in air, which should help the VVS to contain the FAF in the area.
The Finnish Air Force does Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Deep Strikes missions. OCA mission is meant to open windows for the deep strike missions to reach their targets and drop their ordnance on the bridges. OCA is also meant to cause maximum damage on VVS so that continued fighting is possible over Finland.
As the scenario is so different from previous ones, I’m taking more of a control in FAF missions: One cannot really try to accomplish the same goals with same kind of planning with F-35 A and say F/A-18 E/G. I’m not professional, so I’ll take quite a few iterations on this. But I’m sure that I eventually get to best practises, that might be obvious to professionals of the field.
Also one has to note that MLRS systems are not used in this scenario.
The first fighter to go will be Eurofighter Typhoon.
The HX bids were in by the end of April, and there were no big bangs fired in the media. SAAB’s and Boeing’s bids were generally known. Lockheed Martins foreign military sales permit allows also for 64 fighters, but it is not known, if that is the actual number proposed. It is of course common sence that the Dassault and BAE bids are in the same ballpark, as the number 64 is really dictated by fourship up in north and south at all times 24/365 with a few spares to make time for maintainance. 8x(24/4)x1,3=62,4 planes. This is conviniently just about what “daddy sunshine” Josef Stalin dictated in 1948. The right number should be closer to 100 than 60. So 86 might be the real number. Of course HX fighter will be supplemented by “Air force teaming assets” ie Loyal wingmen in 2030’ies so, I’m not too worried about this lack of platforms. This is not in any way limited to Boeing Australias exellent “Loyal Wingman” but concept is in development for all HX candidates, but it seems Boeing has a hefty head start in this.
Boeings Loyal WIngman as an artist expression. This aircraft flew her maiden flight earlier in 2021. I wrote something about said aircraft and there is a longer piece coming this summer.
In political front SAAB can be very happy as it seems the lefty-greenie government is going to be the one to give the nod in late 2021. And as swedes can do no wrong as far as said coalition is concerned things look good for the Gripen E.
Of course there is the EU connection concerning the Typhoon and Rafale, and I think the French might be ready to exert some pressure/influense on Finnish Govt. This could be extra money from EU relief bill, or some other boon, but I’m at loss what it might be. Same goes with the Germany of course. Britons in the other hand are most important defense partner of Finland after Sweden, which might play a role here.
F/A-35 A is of course been the forerunner because of “reasons”, but as it seems her career might be cut shorter by recent developments, I see Lockheed-Martins chances shrinking. F-35 A stealthcapabilities is of course the selling point, but in many other aspects F-35 struggles in competition.
The Americans benefit from the change of the POTUS, but as president Trump was eager to sell the F/A-18 E to Finland, this might lessen the propability of Rhino reeling in the bid. It is not known how VP Harris sees the deal, but I’d say Americans are still on the rise.
Meteor A2A capabilities EU Kinematics
stealth weaponry Meteor?
Meteor EU Kinematics A2S capabilities
Growler Known aircraft fast run up time weaponry pricepoint expenses A2S capabilities
Meteor “swedishness” Global Eye Pricepoint expenses FAF sayso in future development SAAB involvement in R&D in FIN
expenses fyture expansion BC Typhoon
weapon bays Expenses kinematics
supply pricepoint expenses?
BVR missile? future
wartime supply future expansion available electricity
My thoughts on strenghts and weaknesses of HX- bids.
My views on matter are of course highly subjective, but I feel that are about the can of worms where the reasoning comes. As to question which is the strongest bid right now? Hmm. Maybe all things considered SAAB Gripen. Main reasons being the pledge to take FAF views wery strongly into consideration in path forward (This is evident on that SwAF will get their Gripen Es with software and equpment FAF pics; So big say in R&D for minor partner.) If the economics is the sole factor, nod will go to the Boeing and Rhino. This is not to say that Rhino and Growler are not VVS beating combo in their own right.
I may be overestimating SAAB’s chanses, because the relative closed mouthesness of Dassault, who has exellent fighter, and clear path forward. France is quite assertive in their politics, so there might be something there, that is not common knowledge. So I’d always keep the Rafale in mind. and Rafale’s performance and kinematics were on great display in Kauhava airshow August last.
AS I have pointed out quite many times, Command Modern Operations is COMMERCIAL software, ie a game, a very simulation oriented, very realistic but still a game. So the scenarios done here will not be 100% accurate representation of actual world. (Well, that is of course every simulation ever) but we can still except 50-65% realistic outcomes from these runs.So not totally accurate, but well within the ballpark.
The Scenario results
Each HX-hopefull was in the simulation 5 times plus extra time for a video (Video is not included in tabulation). All of them had significant edge over VVS (Vojenno-vozdušnyje sily Rossijskoi Federatsii), or Russian Air Force. The TO&E of VVS is generally known, so I used that. The missions the fighters are on are of course open for debate, but I’m pretty sure there would be SEAD/DEAD element and strikes against basing to “gather the eggs into fewer baskets”, ie forcing FAF into bigger concentrations to make striking against them more feasible.
All HX-candidates were put in the air in heaviest possible A2A configuration. This is heaviest with Rafale, 4 Meteor, 2 MICA IR, 2 MICA RF, then Typhoon and Gripen with 6 Meteor, and Typhoon with two ASRAAM and Gripen with two IRIS-T. F-18 E had 6 AIM-260 JATM and two AIM-9X sidewinders. There was two F/A-18 G Growlers there as well, who had a few AMRAAM Ds in their inventory. Least ordnance was carried by F-35 As who had four AMRAAM Ds internally and two Sidewinders externally.
If we look first how many fighters got into air with each HX hopefuls scorecard reads Typhoon seven fighters (four pairs) Gripen 8 fighters, (four pairs), Rafale 9 and F/A-18 E’s also 9 which means five pairs in air.(Plus pair of Growlers with Super hornets). F-35 keeps the rear with 11 fighters, so 6 sorties. This is germane for the matter, as this indicates that FAF with F-35 would need to fly a lot of more sorties compared to say Typhoon. This means that Typhoons can keep up the A2A bubble up longer than for F-35 can.
Another thing is damage sustained for infrastructure. It seems to be impossible to come out of this scenario without loosing SOME radar installations. Rafale and F-35 lost 2 as a rule, Typhoon lost 1,67 and JAS-39 Gripen and F/A-18 E lost 1. There also was, more often than not strikes against airfields. (In fact ONLY Rafale lost was lost when it was taking off, but suhois dropped anti runway bombs at the same time.) So F/A-18 E and Gripen won the defensive part of the scenario. then Typhoon and Rafale and F-35 last.
Counter Air combat was of course another big thing in this scenario. And as the whole HX exinstence revolves around counter air cababilities, it is THE yardstick the candidates live and die from. It was not really suprising that Typhoon was very strong in this: It consistently killed most planes, and the missiles had the highest Kp. And all this without a single loss. The second place is detable: Gripen or Rafale? Gripen has better Kp (0,443 vs 0,411), and on average more splashes (19,4 vs 17,6) but lost significanly more fighters than Rafale did (0,7 vs 0,2). And as this lost Rafale was on the ground, one might argue that it should not be included in A2A losses at all. As the ratio of kills to losses goes to Rafale 88 vs 27,71 I give second place to Rafale and third to Gripen. AS the American contenders, F/A-18 had more splashes 18,6 vs 16,2 F-35 had better Pk, 0,356 vs 0,336 and less losses 0,3 vs 1 Fourth spot goes to F-35 and fifth to F/A-18 E. I do point out that F/A-18 had one really abyssmal run, where it lost four planes, and hat missile Kp of 0,224, and lost only one fighter after that, so one can hardly say F/A-18 E is a bust. Same can be said about F-35: in one run F-35s used 9 AIM-9X sidewinders, so VVS got really close, and no matter HOW stealthy you are WVR battle is about manouver and energy, and that was where 1,5 Lightnings were lost. The Americans had inferior performing missiles, and thus could not rack as much kills as the Eurocanards did. AIM-260 JATM has the range yes, and You could easily take out the A-50 Mainstay and Il-22 EW platforms, but the Pk was BAD.
If you took the worst runs of for each this is most evident in missile Kp and lost fighters categories. For example F/A-18 E would go from average of one fighter lost in each run to 0,2 fighters lost, and JAS-39 Gripen from 0,7 to 0,3. So maybe next time I’ll make seven runs and drop off the best and the worst, to get things more even.
Main points you can draw from this exercise: 1)If your main A2A missile performs badly you will have losses. 2) it is mostly impossible to save everything
First: I do not have ANY knowledge of the “official” scenarios of the HX program, but I have tried to make educated guess what kind of situations these might be. DCA scenario is definately there as defensive and offensive counter air is the core mission of HX fighter.
Second: I have run these simulations on “Command Modern Operations”, so the simulation is as accurate as it can be on commercial software. So don’t take this as Word of God, but it will still be around 60-70% accurate.
However, I’m looking to get the professional version, if economics are there. If you wish to chip in, feel free to throw me a dime.
Gripen’s in Arctic
As SAAB has previously said: “We have black belt in fighting Suhois” the JAS-39 E Gripens give a good accounting of themselves in this scenario. In fact I used Brasilian Gripens, because they were a bit more modern that was offered for Sweden in Command Modern Operations.
In HX-hopefulls SAAB offers “light fighter” concept along with Lockheed Martin, in a way that both are single engine affairs. Well, as empty weight goes, F-35 is the second heaviest 13000kg after F/A-18 E’s 14552kg. So Gripens empty weight of 8000kgs, is indeed “light”. In essence “weight” is nowadays a pretty obscure yardstick to measure fighters by, but here it does highlight the fact how sleek and small Gripen E is. In case you wonder: second engine weights about 1100kg in F/A-18 E that uses the same engine. The size then affects the relative stealthiness of the platform in visual domain.
Other big thing, maybe the bigger thing, is SAABs inclusion of GlobalEye mini AWACS into the bid. This would indeed bring more value to the pack and would take Finnish Air Forces battle management away from Warsaw Packt years to current times. Global eye is eye in the sky: It can see all of the aerospace from ground up to the skies with same ease. Targets cannot really hope to hide behind terrain or sneak into your aerospace low. All can be seen. This is really really important in scheme of things!
This leads to one of the SAAB’s strenghts in HX-competition: One engine guzzles about half of the avgas two engines use. Thus flight hour is about half of what it is with other HX competitors. This would mean that you can fly about twice as much what you can fly with other HX fighters, which leads to better trained Air Force. (Yes there are simulators, but that is hardly the same as training in meat)
But same time single engine saves costs it produces half the electricity two engine fighter produces. This is not catastrofic in it self in 2020’ies, but will limit the amount of electricity is available for direct energy weapons in future. (Direct energy weapons mean for example microwave and laser weapons that use electricity to get energy into target.) This is exemplified by Future Air dominance concept of BAE (and SAAB) Tempest where her Rolls-Royce engines are very much optimized to conjure electricity for direct energy and other applications.
SAAB had exellent press conference about week ago: SAABs directors and their guests from Swedish Government and Air Force did paint a very compelling picture about JAS Gripen E as HX. Which would not of course be “bad”, but is it “the bestest” is another question. SAABs guests really made the effort to emphasis that “Finland does its own decisions” but painted a picture about common Air Force with two commanders. This sort of would make sence because that common air force would have 120 JAS-39 Gripen E fighters (Plus quite a few C/Ds to run along) and it would free Swedish component to South eastern theatre, Baltic Sea and Baltic islands, and the other component, Finnish, to deal with everything that is happening north of say Pori (Björneborg)-Tampere (Tammerfors)-Mikkeli (St. Michael) Line. This would of course help out with DCA greatly in both operational directions.
Also, Swedes flashed oppourtunity to use Swedish basing as back area for Finnish Air Force in war. This would of course mean that Finns and Swedes need to be allied to some extend. Would being members of EU be enough? Or would this mean F and Sw being NATO allies? Alliance between? Or Personal Union with Queen Victoria of Sweden as the Monark?
As Fighters go, JAS Gripen is exellent prospect: It is just beginning production, it will have widening userbase (Many South American AF is eyeing Gripen E/F as a step up from American legacy aircraft.) So Gripen E will be relevant untill 2060. Yes there is the Tempest. Tempest will not be flying for quite a long time yet. But stuff they are developing for the said Tempest will first fly in both Gripen and Typhoon. developement of new fighter craft does take decades!
This is about after 18 minutes run. VVS has no idea where the threat is coming from. What is surprising in Command Modern Operations simulation is that Gripen E’s identification range with its sensors. Gripes has hard time identifying targets before they are 2/3rds in her radar coverage. I do not know if this is supposed to be threat library thing or what. If it was radar thing Gripen would not be very successful in guiding missiles to targets,
As you can see from the scorecard, Gripen did not lose as many radars, as others did, but still lost them. Other was that SAAB’s HX-hopefull did manage to get pretty decent run: it got 97 to 3,5 drop ratio, there was some hits on Air force bases, but nothing too serious. All together it got the job done and mostly kicked ass.
First: I do not have ANY knowledge of the “official” scenarios of the HX program, but I have tried to make educated guess what kind of situations these might be. DCA scenario is definately there as defensive and offensive counter air is the core mission of HX fighter.
Second: I have run these simulations on “Command Modern Operations”, so the simulation is as accurate as it can be on commercial software. So dont take this as Word of God, but it will still be around 60-70% accurate
The Super Hornet
F/A-18 E/F is seen as the “oldie but goldie” of HX- hopefulls. And indeed has achieved it’s Initial Operational Capability in 2001. (Typhoon 2003, Rafale 2001, F-35 2016 and JAS-39 Gripen has not yet achieved the IOC) For some unfathomable reason Boeings HX hopeful is seen as the “too old” in the competition, this may be because there is the F-35 C, but USN has never intended to replace the whole F-18 E fleet with Lightning IIs. USN is bying under 300 F-35 Cs, so there will be at least 300 Super Hornets in service side by side with the stealth fighters. This is if USN stays at 11-12 carriers.
On the other hand: USN has 2045 plan that would require force of at least 11 super carriers, and 6 light carriers. And light carriers not being “amphibious assault ships” but sort of medium carriers along the lines of Queen Elizabeth or France’s PANG carrier So there is MUCH room still for the 600 plane F/A-18 E/F/G force. This means that speculations of Super Hornets retirement are very much premature. In fact, with the situation deteoriating in South China sea and Sea of Japan, I would wager that there is need for more F/A-18 E/F/G air frames and squadrons as the USN grows to 500 ship navy.
In HX context we really don’t know what kind of A2A missiles Finland is looking for in tandem with the Rhinos. There are AMRAAM D, JATM and Peregrine missiles as options. Other than that, US congress sales permit made it really clear what else Finland is looking to a quire as stores for HX fighters.
In the simulation again it is very sobering to see how much Finland’s air defense is really centered around the missiles Air Force uses and their performance: IF we think perfect hit rate as pk50% (every volley of two missiles drops an enemy target) when kill probability goes under pk30% you are looking more and more likely hood of blue casualities. (1st column in picture below being the case in point: pk around 21%, four blue losses) This is mainly because the the red force will get so close that they can see targets and get to fire. After that Super Hornet is not at it’s strongest.
In this scenario I used F/A-18 Es with JATM missiles (Growlers were still with AMRAAM Ds). The AF-bases were the same, and again no fire untill at least four VVS fighters were in Finnish aerospace. As HX hopefulls go, F/A-18 E is in the slow side with F-35: Both can clock speeds up to 1,6 mach (This might be in some kind of load, because I have seen quotes of 1,8M clean/ in A2A nission) The European HX-hopefulls bit faster (Rafale 1,8 Mach, Gripen 2 Mach and Typhoon 2,2+ Mach). The speed is significant in two ways: It allowe you get faster where you need to be, and it helps missiles to fly a bit farther.(Height of launch is here more significant, but speed is not without impact on matter. Not to mention relative altitude between launching aircraft and the target)
Super Hornets AN/APG-79 radar is very sophisticated and powerful AESA radar and combined with long range AIM-260 JATM missile it gives quite a good accounting of itself. But as an average it seems that every third missile hits. One still has to point out, that frequently the F/A-18 Es tried shooting down the AS-17 and 18 missiles, and did get some scores, but that it is quite difficult exercise to pull it of.
As an interceptor F/A-18 E is not at its best performance, but never the less, it gives quite a good account of itself. Granted the first round was really awful, and 4 fighters were lost, but after that thing evened out. also Pk with JATM was on that time abyssal 0,224, so Suhois got really close and managed to shoot some missiles themselves. that led to casualties. When JATMs performed, there was no real problems in that account.
The basic scenario is introduced HERE. and as a side note: I do not know if HX scenarios really have a DCA scenario in Lapland and Northern Finland. You can rest assured there IS a DCA scenario, as that is the core competence of HX fighter.
Also it is good to bear in mind that Command Modern operations is commercial software, and not really military/government level simulation. I do suspect however that you get reasonably good picture of respective capabilities of the different platforms with this software.
Rafale gave exellent run for the money in Arctic winter warfare exercise this time around. One fighter was lost, on the ground, when Meteors and MICAs performed lest than stellarly, and VVS got to drop ordnance on Rovaniemi airfield. Also Rafales in this simulation were FR3.4 standard and NOT of FR4 standard that is offered to Finland, so there might be quite significant enchantments in capabilities in the pipelines.
The Early warning (KAVA) radars and surveillance radars (KEVA) took again serious beating and Air force would be seriously hampered in following weeks of fighting. Also Radars are truck mounted, so it is feasible that after fighting starts they should get the hell out of Dodge.
Rafale loadout philosofy is different from other HX candidates: It has 4 Meteors and four MICAs, For example Eurofighter Typhoon has 6 Meteor and 2 ASRAAM. This is because of well thought of MICA- RAFALE interplay, where Rafale fighter can get data from MICA IR missiles, and thus enhance platforms capabilities. Also MICA sports much longer range compared (80km) to IRIS-T(25km), ASRAAM (25km) or Sidewinder X(35km) missiles. So MICA offers much more offensive capability compared to other IR missiles in HX competition.
Even though Rafale’s don’t use that option very often in these scenarios (I’m pondering should I take more hand in running the simulation or not. In order to make the fighters fight to, as I see them, to edge of their capabilities.) But as scorecard tells us, MUCH more “short range” missiles are used compared to other runs, so I think this really reflects the capabilities Rafale brings into the fray.
As an Air superiority fighter Rafale is quite capable. While it can be described as fighter-bomber optimized platform, it is still very good as an air dominance. After all, Rafale dominated the former Swiss Fighter replacement program in air. (After politics came involved, winner was Gripen and in referendum “we the people” decided to do without the new fighters at all.) [There is lesson here for HX candidates as well, there is also political aspect in this whether you like it or not] The French messaging boards are quite confident in Rafales ability to pull in the deal. They see French HX-hopefull as politically most formidable, second most affordable and as a fighter the best offering in the bunch.
As a side note; there is in fact fighter replacement program going on in Switzerland currently as well, and candidates are the same apart from Gripen E which was deemed too immature to enter competition. This is of course noteworthy, as Gripen C/D won the last round, Granted E/F is still in development and it IS a rather “new plane” even though it looks like former C/D. The Swiss will be giving some kind of resolution in first quarter or 2021, so before Finnish “late April” timeline.
AS it can be seen here again. closer you get the 50% kill probability, the better the scenario is going to go on you. Another factor affecting the kp is how many AS-17/18 VVS side manages to shoot: Meteor and MICA are cabable of downing a missile too, but they don’t achieve nearly the kp assosiated with fighters.
So there; On video again Rafale did really good. And as a side note I did take more command in this run than with the previous ones. This is because after Typhoon or F-35 A have fired their BVR missiles there just isn’t much to do anymore. On Rafale on the other hand we still have four more mid range MICA missiles. I felt that I would be downplaying Rafales capability if I didn’t do this and thus not give a fair run.
Because of my more aggressive posture, I lost one Rafale though.
It is not a secret that F-35 A is not and Air Superiority Fighter: It is a Joint Strike Fighter. This Defensive Counter Air scenario brings the “failings” of the F-35 A platform to fore: It is not speedy (1,6 Mach in height), it doesn’t carry a lot of missiles (4 AIM-120D and 2 AIM-9X). These failings make it impossible for F-35 A to capitalize on it’s strengths in environment where there is a lot of targets but they are quite far apart.
As you can see from the scorecard, F-35 As have to quite often resort into AIM-9X WVR missiles. That in itself is not bad: they will get the job done just as well, but the problem is that there were not enough AMRAAMS to take care of all the targets that came within the striking distance. This leads to more losses on FAF side. VVS had a quite of easy task of taking down Rangemaster and other radar sites. Also they got to try taking down runways. Rovaniemi was gotten to three times and Oulu once. Fortunately bases kept working just fine. (I suspect that Command Modern Warfare is not configured really well for dispersed basing). So in this scenario lack of speed and missiles transferred to more losses in Radar and basing department.
So even though A-50 was present, it never got a bead on the F-35 As. Only time F-35 got shot down was when they got really close to SU-27 closing from SE. That led into a little furball that led to one downed and one hit F-35. So as VVS playbook goes, maybe it would be better to saturate the Lapland aerospace so that you would get evetually bead on the Lightnings, but this would be rather costly exercise.
AIM-120 D is last iteration of AMRAAM family of missiles, and it doesn’t give some kind of performance as with METEOR missiles. At least British F-35 Bs would have METEROR available, but as Congressional permit to sell AA missiles didn’t include AMRAAMS or JATMS,I think it could have been fair to use METEORs as well, but I just don’t see Lightning IIs without US made missiles. I do suspect that the HX deal will in the end include JATM missiles, if Lockheed gets the nod.
AS the AMRAAMS were fired mostly from extreme range, it was not too difficult for the VVS fighters to manouver to avoid them. That of course leads to lower Kps. In many instances F-35s fired right after taking off. And as a rule of the thumb every 6000m of height doubles the missiles range, you can see that the kill probability was not that high.
As with Typhoon, VVS got lucky 1,5 times when Lightnings got too close to comfort with Suhois, and they managed to get bead on the FAF. (After I give FAF the initial target, I don’t meddle in to keep all things even) One splashed, the another could return to base.
VVS was not really succesfull in strikes on Air Force bases: BetAP anti runway bobmlets did not render the facilities unusable. So one might say no “harm done”, but this fact that VVS COULD get over the air basing and COULD drop ordnance on the fields higlights the fact as Air Superiority fighter/interceptor F-35 leaves a lot to be desired. So I fail, to some extend, to see the point in RAND publication of NATO/EU airforce development. Unless they are going to operate in hunter killer configuration with sensor platforms (F-35s) in front and killers (F-22, F-15, F/A-18, Typhoon) shoot from behind.
If F-35 is a pony, it is hardly an one trick pony, but it’s best trick is not air superiority. That was not the core mission of it, so F-35 is not optimized on it. It would be ludricous to expect othervice.