First the disclaimer: I’m just interested party, ultimate payer and a blogger, in HX-Fighter Replacement Program. I have never seen and much likely never will see the wheelbarrow loads of documentation that the HX-FRP produces. But I try to make an educated guess what is meant by the hints the Finnish Air Force gives out.
EndI’m referring to you the pages 35 to about 44 of the preliminary study of HX program which is of course in Finnish but I sort of comment and in English so you should be able to have a pretty good clue what that preliminary studies is talking about. SO if you have time and inclination in your hands feel free to use Google translate or some other translation program. If you are “Finnish Impaired” BUT here is the link for Esiselvitys
up 87 preliminary study for the HX fighter replacement program first this late stage the capability to function in offensive and defensive air combat. this means that the capabilities in this disciplines all the most important capabilities to be hard in the HX program. Kinematic performance, meaning maneuverability, speed and service altitude, are considered to be most important in this category. As I have pointed out the air-to-air missiles and all the other weaponry will be largely the same for all of the contenders. So small edges can really only be extracted fro planes own physical characteristics. The central role of the future fighter has to perform in operations against strategic strikes and hybrid warfare. Of course it is the Air Force but it’s mostly responsible over protecting the army and the central functions of society and political decision-making in hybrid- and regular Warfare.
This is because air defense constructed only with air to air defense missiles will leave large bubbles where enemy Air Force can do whatever hell they please. Also the upper limit of ground based air defense missiles in Finnish use is around 10 kilometres which will leave another 5 kilometers for enemy Air Force to use. So this just AA missile of air defense is non starter for Finland. So while AA missiles are OK defensing important point targets and large dispersed targets, they will not be able to cope defensing the whole infrastructure and important facilities.
Especially the defensive counter air places high demands for speed and service altitude for the HX-fighter plane. So it would seem that in this category Eurofighter Typhoon should be very strong, closely followed by Saab Gripen. Defensive counter air also depends largely on networking of defensive assets and on the sensor suite of the fighters themselves. Components for these come globally from just a couple of places, so difference will largely lie on physical characteristics of lenses in IRST and radar dishes in radar domain. All contenders will have these, IRST and AESA-radar, and I suspect the differences will be quite small in performance. Most difference in performance likely coming from the width of radar’s dish.
Also the ability to use latest helmet this place is mentioned here Aspen create air-to-air combat asset. this is of course true considering what kind of a shock East Germanys MiG-29 with their helmet guided missiles with West Germany’s and all the rest NATO pilots, in early 1990’ies. MiGs were able to fire missiles off bore axis, which western planes were not at that time. Also the Deep strike as a part of offensive air-to-air missions is mentioned in the preliminary study as a way of hampering enemy’s capabilities of using there radar command and sensor networks and also communications and propaganda networks as a part of a offensive campaigns against Finland.
Second category mentioned is “affecting” this in Finnish Air Force parlance is made up of “kinetic affecting” with bombs, missiles, guns and what’s not and “non kinetic affecting” with the jammers or other electronic means. This is important because with the fighters with quite limited amount of platforms it is quite easy to build nationwide capability for these kinds of missions. From the Great Northern wastes of Lapland to the beautiful islands of southern Ålands. So HX-FRP fighter needs to have a quite a good carrying capability and wide range of different means of affecting enemy. I do not know how it is in other nations what in Finnish Defense Forces “affecting continuum” is divided into a few layers beginning in from humble infantryman’s assault rifle, to the company’s mortar platoon and on wards to their battalion’s Mortar Company and on wards to brigades field artillery regiment. From Brigade level the affecting steps up to the Army group where there is Rocket launcher batteries and 155mm “operative artillery” and MLRS and then lastly in the high commands Air Force and their means of affecting. Thinking is that range and types of targets affected grows in importance. The range of affecting growing from from infantryman’s few hundreds of meters to Air Force’s hundreds of kilometers. There are no “Missile troops” as such in Finland at least yet. From said in here about the platform for the Air Force there needs to be a good carrying capability or good range standoff and, other kinds of missiles. (Anti ship missiles of course spring readily into mind). Also here is a good selling point of F/A- 18 G Growler Fighters with their wide and varied undo radar and on the communications capabilities. Boeing said they’ll sell what is wanted, but I’m not sure has these been asked. And of course President and Congress need to be in the same mind as well.
In my humble opinion, even though I have no doubt that the French in the Dassault Rafale and the Swedes with SAAB Gripen have done Sterling job in their respective fighter’s self protection and electronic warfare capabilities one jammer just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to make an electronic attack airplane. And as I have pointed out previously we are not operating in Mali or Libya where Air defense network is not present or rather depricated, but in the presence of the world’s most formidable air to air defense missile Network so all the capital it is in this area need to be top-notch & Beyond.
The Deep strikethrough ability is mentioned here which should be the domain of the Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter and the Dassault Rafale. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter because of its abilities against enemy radar and Rafale because of her outstanding carrying capacity and deep strike optimization for the French Air Force. Rafale is supposed to be able to deliver France’s nuclear missiles deep into enemy territory, so of course, the capabilities in deep strike have to be really really good. Of course the goal is not to sacrifice an airplane if you can just get around with using an stand off missile but sometimes you have to go deep in order to be able to launch that missile.
In the same chapter it is also mention that the targets will move and appear and disappear very rapidly so the speed of action he’s also quite important in the selection all the fighter this translates into the car in Capitol 80 so that you can have a wide variety of different effect missiles on the plane when you take off this seems to play into the pockets of Boeing F/A-18 E and Dassault Rafale. But as all still carry a respectable amount of ordnance, and what is more somewhere is less in somewhere else.
Third category mentioned is a reconnaisance, guarding, or policing, and targeting capability. As mentioned before the capability to function against a strategic strike or Hybrid warfare it seem to be very important for the future fighters and also their air policing flights will take them far over the Baltic sea, where they have to police de-militarized zone of Åland islands. Ålanders, Finns Swedes and rest of Europeans alike feel that Ålands are demilitarizied, but Soviet Union NEVER said such a thing, and this goes as well for the new Russia. From Finnish point of view, Ålands cannot be allowed to fall into enemy hands. Same goes fro Swedes and NATO, as defense of Baltic 3 will be quite hard if Ålands function as an unsinkable flattop and her battle group in northern Baltic.
The ability to produce recognizance information and policing will be most important in the Southern Coastline of England as well not to mention not to mention the northern part of area which is largely sparsely populated. also the survivability of the fighters is mentioned here and a little there defensive electronic warfare capabilities.
Last link that follows the other missions. Starting from SEAD and DEAD missions against enemy air defenses And radar Networks in order to facilitate all the cons of Air Force missions. so air force fields that some kind of electronic warfare and suppression of enemy air defenses capability will be needed in the future Fighters butt it goes maybe the time over in facing its value but I feel that at least 1/5 of the planes acquired in HX Fighter replacement program need to be SEAD capable.
I don’t know why the swedes think that they can manage without dedicated wild weasel or Growler how ever automated the systems are. But I feel that Finland should get a quite a few Growlers so if you can get two seaters and maybe modify them to carry electronic warfare pods of different kinds as well as the anti-radiation missiles in order to be able to wage DEAD warfare against S-300 S-400 and S-500 missile complexes. After all you cannot fly very high from at least the eastern part of Finland before you will be in some of the system’s radar.
Further I would like to point out, that HX-FRP’s need to be able to take off from highway bases, and be maintained in quite austere enviroment. So plane needs to be rugged enought and not to require 2000m runways to be able to take off and land. I’m not sure WHAT distances have been asked, but I guess 600 m of pavement should be enough for war birds of Finland. Thought is that a plane never lands on same base it took off from, so that assessing Air force placements and buildups are harder to detect.