Winter Defensive Counter Air in Lapland: What can we deduct?

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.

Scorecard of averages. Every HX candidate had five runs, and this is how they fared in average.

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.

Of course things look a bit different if you for example take the worst run of from each contender. this evens the scores quite a bit.

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

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Gripens in the Wild


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

Gripen E mockup in Kauhava 2020. Own photo

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?

The new cabability in SAABs offer: The GlobalEye. As you van see it really does change the scenario here. Own photo

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!

View from VVS side. The AWACS is there, but it is also sending, so it is pretty obvious and big target. Of the four Gripens in air nothing is seen.

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,

When Probability of kill for the missiles plunges to 40% and below, you start to see casualties. Run number 4 was particularly bad, because of two Gripens lost. Run on the video was again very successful.

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.

Gripens in the Wild

Next lets analyse the scorecards.

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Rhinos of Winter Night

Boeing F/A-18 E/F Rhinos and G growlers were present in Tikkakoski in 2018.


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.

Again sidewayish Rhinos are spotted by A50 Mainstay, but fighters head on are not. Growlers have nor started jamming yet.

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)

Scorecard for Rhino. It got really bad for Finnish side on 1st run, when JATMs didn’t really perform. This resulted into blue force casualities. As you can see, run number two when JATMs performed really good, the fight was walk in the park.

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.

Video of DCA scenario involving F/A-18 E fighters in northern Lapland.

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.

Last but not least, SAAB Gripen.

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Rafale’s very good showing

Rafale B in Rovaniemi in ACE 2017. The French HX runner gave beautiful accounting of herself! Only one fighter lost, and that on the ground.(own photo)

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.

This time Northernmost Rafales got too close for comfort. Southernmost pair gets easily picked up because they are side toward A-50 Mainstay AWACS. This is from VVS side.

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.

Only one Rafale was lost, and that happened on ground! So I guess SPECTRE really is rather nifty piece of kit for Rafale omnirole fighter. Also the number of A2A missiles fired is in par with other HX candidates missiles fired; Rafale shoots more MICAs

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.

Next up will be F/A-18 E/F/G

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F-35 A hard pressed, but mostly getting it done

F-35 A in Tikkakoski in 2018. own photo

This scenario is introduced in post Scenario 3 Defensive counter air in Arctic.

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.

Scorecard after five rounds of fights in Northern skies

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.

Next up will be Rafale later in the week.

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Typhoons in Arctic evening

This scenario is introduced in post Scenario 3 Defensive counter air in Arctic.

Aurofighter Typhoon in AirFair in Seinäjoki a few yours back! (own photo)

Typhoon is the clearest Air Superiority platform of the HX-hopefulls, and has speed, agility and altitude advantage to all other candidates in Finnish fighter replacement program. THe EUrofighter Typhoon would be a pan European choice as it is in use in most premier Airforces in Europe: Great Britain, Germany and Italy. This assures that Typhoon will be in use with the proposed European 6th gen fighters in 2050’ies.

Typhoon is Air superiority optimized multi-role fighter which would give a great reach in time&space continuum for Finland. On the downside is that EF is a bit on expensive side both to procure and to fly. Armaments are the same for most HX candidates, so no big differences in there.

I simulated the scenario 5 times and did the video on sixth time. As you can see from the tally of losses it is quite hard to keep the Air defense and monitoring bubble intact in Northern Finland and Lapland against offensive operation, with four ship on initial patrol. But it is not totally undoable either. Limiting factor for success seems mostly to be the amount of A2A ordnance

With 6 Meteor 2 ASRAAM carried the staying power of Typhoons is limited by ordnance. One could do MUCH more harm to attaking VVS, if one had option to carry 10-12 Meteors on takeoff, with just internal fuel, or possibly one extra tank as the staying power is not limited by amout of AvGas carried, but amount of Foxes under wings. (I’m trying to keep this real, and not to meddle with the database.)

As mentioned, I did 5 runs on simulation and made a table of the results. Basics of each run was the same: VVS has it’s assets up, and Finns are launching two pairs to guard neutrality. Even though Typhoon is the fastest burner in HX competition even it doesn’t have time enough to zoom all over Lapland and be everywhere at once: Even Typhoon needs some time to come into Meteor range of red fighters to be able to fire. Fighters move fast, so time to react is always short.

Table of results, as seen VVS losses keep to about 18-20 fighters, and FAF looks to loose at least one radar installation.

Also, the KAVA radars (Thompson Rangemasters) are mounted on wheeled chassis, so after the shooting starts they should be able to pull stakes and change positions, in real life. But this simulation software doesn’t quite give that option here. As the Meteors are always fired two at a target from far range, you seldom get to re target the missiles if you score hits on 1st missile of the salvo. So that tends to push the kill ratio down (even if you get perfect score of 1 splash per salvo of two, your hit rate is still going to be 50%)

In the video things went pretty surprisingly: One Typhoon got hit but managed to return to base. This happened in a fur ball near Kajaani on the late stages of the video. Another gets his and is lost also. Finns also lost two radars, but managed also to down most VVS air assets (21).

So Eurofighter typhoon gave a good showing again.

Next up will be the Lockheed Martin F-35 on the weekend.

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HX scenario number 3: Winter in the North

Disclaimer. I do not have any knowledge of what the scenarios used as a base for HX program fighter evaluation are, but I have tried to make an educated guess what these might be.

Also the suftware used for simulation is the most accurate simulation software in civilian market. Here the word in operation is civilian market, so I do not think I am 100% accurate in this simulation. I think the accuracy of simulation will be in the neighborhood of D/C in F-A scale or 2/3 in 1-5 scale. So more then 50% accurate, but not much more than 70% accurate.

The basics of the scenario

Picture from the beginning of the scenario. Russian AFBs in orange, FAF in blue.

Scenario this time is Defensive Counter Air action in Lappland and Northern Finland. It is based on assumption what Russia would need to accomplish in order to brake out to Atlantic with Red Banner Northern Fleet surface forces to distrupt NATO reinforcements from arriving from USA and Canada. THis would need to be accomplished as a part of annexing of the Baltic States and distrupting NATO as a alliance.

In Finnish Defense Forces neck of woods this would mean at the very least guarding of neutrality in the Lapland and Southern Finland and we are now concentrating in Lappland in in extreme weather and in darkness. Russia would need to grab Norwegian Finnmark coast most of the way to Lofoten as well, in order to keep surface units secure from anti ship missiles and to most extent of NATO submarines. This would involve land attack to NATO Northern flank and shortest way to Lofotes island runs through Finnish and Swedish Lappland. So the WILL be sizeable shooting war there.

As a preliminary for that attack there needs to be air action to limit effectiveness of Finnsih and Swedish Air Forces in the theatre.

Russian AF bases have (Accroding to Pentti Perttula’s “Nykyaikainen ilmasodankäynti” page 119 ) 14 SU-33 multi role fighters in Severomorsk 3 AFB. 17 SU-24MR strike planes and 14 MiG-25RB recon planes in Montsegorsk and 52 SU-27 at Petrozavodsk/Besovets AFB. The OCA and strike elements are composed of these forces. There may have been changes, but it will be close enough for this scenario.

So here we are….

VVS is heading in from all the bases that they have around Kola and Karelia. They have support of Il-50U MAINSTAY AWACS and Il-22PP EW platform. Radar and jamming are active on the beginning of scenario.

Finnis side has three radars active: long range Ahvenvaara out in the north, Kajaani in the south (Says JAMMED) next to it on picture and Middle distance one Sodankylä (also JAMMED). I think that MIGHT have been going for some time, so that to get Finnish radar operators used to having their radars jammed, and not take it too seriously. Also the game is to get time for the strike package and the SEAD package to get to shoot without alarming the defense.

What sthe FAF side sees in beginning of the scenario.There is some traffic, but as all is in Russian side, there is not too much cause for alarm.

Finnish AD network picks up the Packages at about 11 minustes after the scenario has begun at about KEVA (Thompson Groundmaster). and to the south with KAVA (TRS 2230 radar) at 192,3 nm

After this we proceed to performance of different HX candidates. Permission to fire is given once something is detected on Finnish side of the border. Finnish side has 14 fighters available that are disperced in all over the Lapland and Northern Finland.

Next up Eurofighter Typhoon

Then Lockheed F-35 A Lightning

In the middle Dassault Rafale

Next to last Boeing F/A-18 E/F/G

Last but not least SAAB JAS-39 E Gripen and Global EYE

Posted in Buildup to war, HX-ohjelma, hypoteesitilanne, ilmavoimat, in English, simulaatio, Sotapelit, Tilanne päällä, War in Baltic Region | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Lay of the Land in HX Program in January 2021

The air force and ministry of defense are getting ready to send final request for tender by the end of this month. We got some inkling what the bid entails from Foreign Military Sales permit from US Congress in October 2020: as planes go either 64 F-35 As or 72 Boeing F/A-18 E/F/Gs (50 Es, 8 Fs and 12 Gs respectively). This along with various munitions and equipment (no mention there about AMRAAMs or JATMs though). JATM should be available by 2021, so it should be available for US planes in HX competition, when 2025 comes along. Obviously MBDA Meteor will be integrated to F-35 by that time too, so it could be outside chance fo BWR-missile. The Lockheed asks for 10,6G€ and Boeing 12,5G€ for the packet. There is no same kind of data from European competitors.

F/A-18 C (Legacy) Hornet taking off in ACE17. Own photo

As always, left side of political spectrum is complaining about the price tag associated with the HX-program, and how the money could be spent much more sensibly on X, Y or Z. There has also been calls to limit the HX program to 40 fighters and other such, mostly meant for own voters kind of stuff. Also limiting to 40 planes have been quoted because “Finland doesn’t want to go on offensive war.”

Over the weekend Finnish Broadcasting Corporations Swedish language side started making noises about “not having honest discussion about HX program”. They quoted professor Hiilamo about the level of discussion. I’m sure prof. Hiilamo is bees knees in his own field, social policy, but as his beef with the HX program centers about it’s costs and not so much about the why and how many? Of the matter.

The “YYA-sopimus” people (agreement on friendship, co-operation and assistance) [The agreement that made Finladisierung the thing in 1960’ies] folk would sleep much better, if there was “only a few” fighters, say max 24, and they would only have defensive missiles. The cause of this is: “our fighters will be shot down in few minutes anyhow” and “money would be much better spend on [insert your pet cause here]”. I have proved in various simulations that even a quite limited technically advanced fighter force will be able to conduct effective defensive counter air against technologically near peer larger air force. Also this YYA people would only consider fighter that is made in Sweden, because of neutrality.

This message was brought to fore by bunch of wellmeaning fools (Kansan uutiset is far left paper associated with Finnish Vasemmistoliitto, a part little right from communist and left of socialists). who wanted to take a time out in HX-program. They feel that more comprehensive evaluation of defense policy and broader options. (Maybe they would like to see Russian and/or Chinese “peace”fighters in place of western “oppressor” fighters).

Other folks, so called “S2A missile people” see that it would be better to spent the odd G€ to get the surface to air defense into top notch. This would not of course be bad way to go as such, and with enough missiles and launchers would create a hefty size AD bubble around the vital parts of Finland. This would of course mean that Finnish Defense Force would loose the much of the capability to project power especially into Åland Archipelago and more broadly into the Baltic sea. This would mean that Finland would in essence drop the Åland neutrality agreement. This would be very costly exercise in Finnish blood, as by agreement FDF would have to take Åland back in some time frame.

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Virolaisten sotarobotti esittäytyy

Virolaisella Milrem Robotics yrityksellä on uusi kiinnostava tuote, joka julkaistiin kuluvalla viikolla. Type-X combat etäohjattava/robottitankki. Firman sarjassa on myöskin telaketju kantojuhta, joka on tarkoitettu periaatteessa kantamaan ryhmän vermeitä ja muuta raskasta kalustoa, jolloin säästetään taistelijoita.

Type X sensijaan on “land loyal wingman” eli miehitetylle tankille tai miehistökuljetusajoneuvolle tarkoitettu siipimies, joka parantaa miehitety tankin selviytymiskykyä ja laajentaa tankin havaintokuplaa. Alustan aseet ovat etäohjautuvia, koska Lännessä on lähes tunteellinen suhtautuminen autonomisten aseiden itsenäiseen tulenkäyttöön. Tämä on arvovalinta, ei niinkään teknologinen rajoitus. Epäilen, että raskaasti häirityssä ElSo tilassa saattaa, ainakin pidemmillä matkoilla, tulla vaikeuksia datan kulussa molempiin suuntiin. Alusta pystyy liikkumaan autonomisesti joko “seuraa johtajaa” tai weipointtien kautta.Laitteen toiminnalisuutta ohjataan joko paikanpäällä tabletilla tai suunnittelutyökalulla esikunnassa.

Tyyppi-X painaa noin 12 tonnia ja sen pituus on 6m leveys vähän vajaa kolme ja korkeus 2,2 metriä. Verkkosivu ei ilmoita millaisella tornilla mitat pitävät paikkaansa, mutta se ei ole asiassa nyt niin kauhean tärkeää. Voimanlähde on diesel-sähköinen, ja niin hiljainen, että se ei varoita lähestyvästä robotista.

Aselavettina Type-X on riittävän vakaa aina 50mm automaattikanuunalle asti, ja siihen tulee etäohjattu asetorni. Lisätulivoimaa tuo geneerinen 7,62 konekivääri. Aselavettina se on siis ajateltu NATO-maiden arsenaaliin sopivaksi ja kyseinen 50mm automattikanuuna lienee Bushmaster III kanuuna, josta on suunnitteilla moinen vähän karkeareikäisempi versio. Luonnollisesti aijemmat 25mm ja siitä ylöspäin olevat Bushmasterin aseet käyvät myös. ensimäisenä tulee versio 30mm automaattikanuunan kanssa.

Suunnittelukonseptina on ajateltu, että Type-X tarjoaa mekanisoidun jalkaväen taisteluajoneuvon tai vastaavan tulivoiman tai sen ylittävän tulivoiman. 50mm automaattikanuuna on luonnollisesti vaarallinen myös tankeille sivulta päin ammuttuna. Vaunu on suojattu venäläisen 14,5x114mm konekiväärin tulta 200m päästä ammuttuna vastaan (STANAG 4569). Koska vaunun sisällä ei ole herkkiä ja pehmeitä ihmisiä, vaan laitteita, lienee tuommoinen hieman kevyempi suoja riittävä Type-X vaunulle. Valmistjan mukaan Type X:ssä on haettu ennenkaikkea liikkuvuutta.

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A LOOONG overdue post about the Kauhava 2020 airfair!

There was nice crowd on Saturday and Sunday on site! It was nice to visit the airfield again. When I was A kid many of my friends’ fathers worked there, so we went there quite often. Also my late grandfather used to be flight instructor there. Own photo

This post has been long overdue! Reasons for this has been my studies for engineering degree, and family life. But without further ado, let us get into business!

SAAB GlobalEyen takaa aukenee näkymä SAABin nurkkaukseen kauhanan Plataa.Screenit ja kaksikerroksinen edustustila kuuluvat valmistajan panostukseen HX-asiassa.

All the HX candidates were present, but unfortunately Eurofighter Typhoon only with small stand and a model of Typhoon There were two fluing planes, but no to really talk to. SAAB was all out again and had MARVELOUS! area. One could sit in JAS-39 E GRIPEN cockpit and there was also flying example on the site.

Gripen’s front profile and some arsenal (mockups) to carry. The centerline pylon is a new one. There are 4 SDB and two Mk 82 bombs on centerline. There seems to be a IRIS T missile on the wingtip station, doesn’t look quite 1:1 to other examples I have seen, so it MIGHT be a towed decoy too.
There was a mockup, where you could climb in also present, so that you can get the feel of the real thingy! (own photo)

SAAB was also responssible of maybe the biggest news splash of the Kauhava 2020 airfair: They announced their decoy/jammer UAV (sort of a missile, sort of a drone, but EW/Jammer as a payload) After this addition to cababilities, Gripen E should be at par or better with all the other HX-contenders. Do not get me wrong: JAS-39 Gripen E is a great fighter! But it was lacking in capability to jam enemy radars without being itself in the harms way. AREXIS EW/jammer pods are a great system, but they were carried by the plane, so at very least home-on-jamming missiles would be a serious threat to jamming Gripens.

SAAB’s Magnus Skogberg dropping the LADM bomb. Even though the matter seems pretty trivial, stand off jamming capability is essential for ground strike and suppression of enemy air defenses missions. Lack of this capability was, IMHO, the biggest flaw on Gripen HX bid. Everything else seems to be top notch! (own photo)

Also a big first was SAABs Global Eye in Kauhava! Two of these (mini)AWACS planes are in the bid for HX-program. System like this extends the detection range of radar network out to 450km and also close to ground. The Global Eye is maybe the special strength of SAABs bid: It offers capabilities nobody else comes close to offering. On a side note, Finnish procurement plan for HX-program is about 20% too low: No HX contender has been able to provide the asked “full capabilities overhaul” within the 10G€ cap. So I think there will be haggling about this and that on 2021. These kinds of capabilities don’t come cheap. but you cant get them when you need them otherwise. Also I will be doing a longer post on Global eye in the spring.

Global Eye from the hind quarter. The plane is large when compared to the fighters next to it, but it brings a lot of power multiplication into the play. (own photo)

Dassault was also present in force! They had brought Armee del Air acrobatics flyer with them! The French bid is, for some unfathomable reason, seen as a bit lackluster by the general audience, but Rafale does everything the the peers do, and while carrying a lot of ordnance! Rafale is optimized striker, but it that does not deduct of her air to air capabilities. Rafale is agile fighter that would be a good fit for Finnish Airforce as well. On the plus side you get all the common NATO armaments and a few extras that the French make better! For example HAMMER guidance kits for bombs and MICA missiles. MICAs can do some really clever tricks with electronics of the Rafale to enhance the fighters capabilities.

Rafale C in acrobatics liverie.

Dassault tells that MICa missiles can be fired over the shoulder of the plane, and be guided by somebody other than the original firer to target. So this might play out like something like this: target pops up behind and to the side of the Rafale. Second Rafale might be behind but out of range to shoot, so the first Rafale can fire a MICA over to the side and behind and the second Rafale can guide it to target, so that 1st Rafale can start evading.

Dassault had a lot of interesting info about Rafale and nEuron UCAS system. It seems that HX fighter is going to fly with unmanned partners before 2050 is with us! Rafale too would be good fit for Finland. (own photo)

So that said, Rafale is an exellent fighter in her own right, but how I see things, it does everything well, but there is no catch. I do not know what there might be for Dassault and French government to sweeten the deal and to bring that little something extra. It might be something EU-policies related, it might be something to do with defense and security aspect of EU. But as I said, if it is in hardware or capabilities, I do not have knowledge of this.

Rafale is a great fighter jet, but Dassault offer doesn’t seem to have “the extra catch” visible. Unless of course it is something else….. (own photo)

The flight performance of the Rafale dispaly was suberb. You can view it on a link HERE

Boeing and F/A-18 E/F/G was also present in strenght and I had good fortune to speak about Loyal Wingman (Air power teaming system ) as well in Boeing booth. At this stage Loyal wingman is not, yet, part of HX-bid but very likely be part of future MLU update. Loyal wingman is basically a unmanned fightersize and capable drone. It’s main duty is to fly forward of the controlling fighter and use it’s sensor suite to pick targets for the fighter.

F/A-18 E and Loyal wing man. This will be a dynamic duo, as Loyal wing man gets more flight ours under its wings. (Own Photo)

What is also significan, IMHO is that as Alan Garcia confirmed, that Super hornet Block III CAN fit quad missile pylons. They are not in offer to finland, but never the less be great asset: AMRAAM is not heavy, but they are bulky, pylons can carry upwards of 1500kg of ordnance, but it has to be rather narrow. This would, even if you can only carry the quad pylon on inner wing stations, missile count of Rhino from 12 to 16. Well, more likely 12 still, but with some other doo hikeys.

The E/A-18 E/F/G family would indeed be battle proven and viable concept that has been designed to fight well in combination. (own photo)

The extra interest in Boeing offer is the E/A-18 G Growler. It is worlds most advanced electronic attack platform. Growler would really be game changer in our neck of woods if push comes into a shove. All HX candidates can do self protection, some of them can even do escort jamming. But Boeing’s bid has the only dedicated EA platform to do it.

The F-35 Lightning II is the perceived forerunner of the race for the laymen: It is low observable platform, that will have a lot of users around the world and Europe. It is the marvel of best American engineering money can buy. It can do a lot by virtue of its shape and sensor package, but there are some limitations.On the other hand, the low observable engineered shape goes to naught if you start hanging all kinds of ordnance into the wings.

Scott Davies told about Lockheed Martin F-35 A fighter. The catch with Lockheed martin is Low observable and maybe the most advanced sensory fusion of the Hx candidates. (own photo)

Lockheed Martin and F-35 has taken a lot of FLAK internationally and nationally with it’s bid. There has been nasty lobbying incident, the fighter has been too expensive and too slow, it can’t carry enough ordnance and there has been all kinds of delays in the procurement. Some, if not most, is about making headlines, and rest is maybe not as dramatic. Developing a new fighter and making it top notch is time consuming and expensive.

The price of F-35 A has come down considerably, and is about the same as with the other HX fighters. There are clouds in horizon for F-35 though. IR Array and multistatic radar technology goes forwards by leaps and bounds, so low observable might not be the winning bet for all times to come. Now I’m not saying F-35 is one trick pony, but it may well see her margins of excellence diminishing.

Eurofigter Typhoon didn’t have sales people on the site because of COVID-19, but I’m quite sure they are still wanting to participate and push Typhoon forward. The catch with Typhoon is for the Finns the access to Britain’s national intelligence satellite network, which would bring ISTAR capabilities for FDF.

This time it was German Typhoon that was in Kauhava. Eurofighter is indeed European fighter. It is in use all around the continent, and is the the worlds premiere Air to Air fighter. (Own Photo)
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