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Maybe the worlds most demanding Air combat arena will be the skies over Northern Europe from Poland to Norway. Great part of this future “Sukhoi Alley” will be in or around Finnish Aerospace. Let’s take a look what it will mean in concept of HX-program.
As many may notice this is a distinctly old map, but I picked it because it shows geography of the are better than any map I have come across. I have cut it so that it will give you area from Luleå in left low corner to Murmansk in right upper corner. Main feature in map is the highlands between Finland and Russia. These create environment where low flying strike aircraft can penetrate the border undetected. The border has been changed in a couple of wars, but towns and places are where they are supposed to be.
Targets of most strategic value in this map are Naval bases in Murmansk, bridges and Main Airbase in Rovaniemi area, Swedish airbase in Luleå. There are army bases in Alakurtti (Russian Arctic Brigade), Jäeger Brigade in Sodankylä. (This is not Special forces outfit, but light infantry Brigade. Even though a lot of foreign troops come to train there Arctic warfare.) There are quite few other runways in Finnish and Swedish Lapland to facilitate dispersed basing operations for war times. But we will be focusing on times leading up to war and first hours of war.
As said SAAB took a kangaroo’s leap forward in SEAD/EW aspects of HX program with AREXIS system. This is a piece of kit the Rafale and Typhoon do not currently have. Both have exellent EW/selfprotection systems in SPECTRA in Rafale and PRAETORIAN in Typhoon, but neither have, to my knowledge, radar jamming capability to extend into high MHz, or UHF/VHF, range. Modern anti stealth radars operate in these ranges, so jamming in this region of electro-magnetic spectrum is desperately needed in future conflict against Russian (And Chinese) Air defense complexes. 2-4 GHz radars used for firecontrol can be handily jammed and disturbed by any contender in HX-program. In fact the Boeing F/A_18 E/F/G with AN/ALQ-99 ja also jam in mentioned UHF/VHF ranges, but AN/ALQ-99 is notoriously unreliable system, so Growlers is US service sometimes have to do SEAD missions without complete capabilities of highly regarded F/A-18 Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
So basically it means that if Finland decides to get any European contender in the race finland will most likely be gettin something in order of 20 AREXIS systems from Sweden. BAE is quite close companion with SAAB, so I think Royal Airforce is going to announce AREXIS on their fleet of typhoons and rest will follow. Rafale can basically do the same, but French are somewhat more inclined to make their “own thing” in my mind. F-35 and F/A-18 E/F/Gs will be getting the new US EW pod when it does comes into being.
IF we do a little physics magic on AREXIS system on basis what we know that IF it is (I do not know, but I suspect.[I have asked SAAB, but not given confirmation]) compatiable with MIL-STD-1760 standard. We also know the magic Electronic word PUIMURI Which means “combine harvester” in Finnish. THAT would have you know that P=UI or Power is equal to current times electric potential. OR Wats are Amperes times Volts.
As max input from MIL-STD-1760 pylon or weapon station is 200volts and continious maximum current 24 amperes, and peak 30 Amperes. With these numbers the AREXIS will have maximum output P=UI of P= 200V*30A or 6000 wats, so 6 KW with and with continious current at 24A so 4800 wats or 4,8 KW. This assuming high end electronix with low power wastage. AN/ALQ-99 has higher output of 7,5 KW, but pod has its own turbine attached, so they get some extra power there.
So Arexis will have high enough power imput from weapons stores (pylon) to send at approximately 5KW power. This should be enough to dazzle and jam enemy radars who will be competing against the Inverse square law of physics as well. And radar recievers have to be quite sensitive to pick reflected energy (to know something IS there and make detection) they have to compete against the Inverse square law both ways. The jammer only has to do it once. And jammer can concentrate on a single radar at a time, so 5,0 KW is ample power here.
If you consider that radar sending power may be as high as 50 kw and it can detect a target that has RCS of 3m² out to 150km. This would mean intensity of 50 000w/4*pi*(150km)². This is reflected back, so you can see how sensitive the elements in radar are, and thus they are suspect to jamming.
Modern anti aircraft radars have to be as sensitive as possible to be able to pick up the whisperings of power the enemy aircraft will reflect so direct energy directed against them will dazzle the radar quite beautifully. This makes it impossible to detect anything but the source of jamming. Same way if someone is aiming powerfull lamp at your eyes. You will see the light, but nothing past it.But if you would have say red glasses (different wavelenght) you would not be bothered by lamp that is sending blue light. Or vice versa. Or that if you know that the guy with a lamp is trying to dazzle you and your friend. When he is flashing the light at you you just hold your eyes shut and your friend can have alook, and when light is on your friend you can see what is happening. as a some kind of analogy of radar jamming and procedure.
So AREXIS brings in capability that neither of the European competitors have into SAABs bid into HX race and brings SAAB neck to neck with Boeing F/A-18 E/F/G Rhino. These two seem to be a bit ahead in the race as of October/November 2017.
Typhoon WILL have “wild weasel” role added to planes bag of tricks but unfortunately Dassault Rafale has not been very forthcoming with information considering the development of Rafale F4 standard.