Last weekend in 18th and 19th of June we had in Corfu Tour de ski 2016 all the major participants in 8X program where they are to one degree or another. I had the pleasure to be invited into Tour de Sky 2016 By SAAB on Friday. I got to meet and talk with Jan, Magnus and Gideon from the SAAB Gripen program. The SAAB gentlemen were very patient with me asking unfashionable and indescreet questions considering the use of stealth and other things in Gripen program that interest me.
One thing I had in mind was that as they have lengthened the Gripen E’s body and increased her takeoff weight have they also increased the area of the wing? Yes they have, but the wing loading is a bit bigger than with Gripen C/D. But the increase is not dramatic. Will there be a Gripen Growler? Will the jamming capabilities be provided by Swedish or some other party? and so forth. But more of this later.
One thing that really struck me in the Kuopio Rissala Airfield was the difference in size between the EUrofighter and Gripen. When we get to see and ogle around the aeroplanes and see their size, Gripen D’s air speed meter in the nose of the plane was about the same level as my belly button, so Gripen is indeed a small plane.
This enhances her capabilities as a “close in” or WVR fighter because smaller plane is self-evidently much harder to see using just your eyeballs, to get the other plane and to get into the firing position. Swedish pilot giving us a briefing about the Gripen told about this when they have a common practices with the Finnish air force F/A-18 C Hornets. So one might say Gripen is the stealthiest plane of all the HX candidates in WVR and visual light spectrum.
Mrs. Natalie Bakhos from the Dassault Rafale was very kind to me and forthcoming with information about the about the the Rafale program and Rafale for Finland. Dassault had a really nice Pavillion to display on Rafale. But unfortunately there was not a plane itself. But there was a sizeable team of people anwering questions and telling about the fighter, so I had thoroughly nice time with the Rafale team. They also had good selection of goodies for friday, and geve me a photo CD I’ll be putting photos from to this site anytime soonish. Waffle House it quite plain that they have succeeded in making ruffle very cold airplane. it is maybe the hardest of the whole bunch to detect on IRST, or in infrared Spectrum anyway. but I do have my misgivings over will be Spectra system be sufficient in protecting me cut off all fighters in Finish air war situations where good air defense systems and good Fighters a bound. So I’d like to see some kind of a wild weasel or Growler variant over Dassault Rafale. But this might just be me.
British Aerospace or BAE also had Pavillion in place right acroos SAAB’s and they also had two Eurofighter Typhoons on display outside so that one could go around and see the planes close at hand. Two eurofighters present were RAF. The pavillion was not yet in full swing in friday, but I got to meet the team there.
Lockheed Martin had a really nice tent with the really really nice this place in the air show. the good gentleman from there locate Martin even called me and asked me if I want to book that flight simulator time which I have caused it and I would have even had it cost me arm and a leg and one child. Mr. Gary North had a good informative talk and presentation with me and we discussed in some length the problems posed on Finnish Air Force by S-300 S-400 and future S-500 missile systems or let’s say air defense complexes of Russia. It was people and their it don’t to me that stealth is not yet dead as the Russia and China are both developing their own stealth fighters in PAK-FA and the Chinese rip off of F-35 the The Shenyang J-31
So I even got to fly the F-35 flight simulator in the Lockheed-Martin tent and I thoroughly enjoyed myself flew over they never die in 60 meters and bumps on Airfield before I landed on it and the landing was quite amazing as you can imagine because I, with very little or no, landing experience managed to to bring the airplane down in one piece.
What really puzzled me was Boeing’s presence, or lack there off. They didn’t even have a booth of their own. They were hardly there at all,hidden behind a booze restaurant in grounds. So I had to start wondering have they decided, that they will not be able to sell the F/A-18E/F/G to Finland, OR are they so sure of it that they do not even make an effort? Your guess is as good as mine.