First a disclaimer: Nobody has discussed the actual HX scenarios with me. These are my somewhat educated guesses what they might be, and what the strenghts of each HX contender in given scenario might be. Further as a basis of the scenario I have selected the RAND scenario of mounting tension with NATO and Russia over Baltic states and the operations that would stem from this.
If you are interested there is a quite extensive piece of russian power in Finnish close areas in YLE. The HX candidates are set into this scenario in no particular order, only as whim takes me and data of HX candidates becomes available. As fitting for so called multi/omni/swing role fighters are fighters are equipped mostly the same, even though this might not make perfectly sense. My blog: my rules.
Scenario 1. The Defense of Åland Islands.
Background: The new cold war has escalated in Northern Europe, and there begin to be ral concerns of war. Finland and Sweden are still neutral, but stille leaning more toward west in their political stance. Finns have completed the HX program, and have about 48 HX planes and weaponry already available in country.
As Russia seeks to grasp the Baltic states and force NATO’s Article 5 as null, she needs to isolate Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from rest of the NATO as tightly as possible. This will revolve around the success of taking Gotland from Sweden and Åland islands from Finland. I will largely leave the Gotland direction out of this even though it will be maybe more of a value to Russia than Åland islands, but as we are discussing the part HX has to play in the defense, it is of lesser importance for us.
As NATO will start concentrating air power to southern Sweden and Stockholm area, it will be imperative to harass the airpower on its way to baltics and back to limit the stores they can carry and force them to maneuver to cut down the time they cans spend in defense of B3 states. Finland as a sovereign State must defend the Åland and its airspace to prevent the battles to fought in Finnish soil. This has to be more than token resistance in order not to antagonize NATO powers. Token resistance would mean that combat would take place in Finnish aerospace and lead to strikes against Finnish airfields by one party or the another.
Scenario: Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet is responsible of taking over the Gotland and Åland Islands. the 336th Guards amphibious brigade loaded into vessels of 71st Red Star Landing ship brigades’ vessels. Baltic fleet is supported in this by the 76th Air Assault Division. The 76th is responsible of taking over the Gotland with two regiments and Air two air defence battalions. These will be reinforced by S-400 division in Gotland by sea.
At on about the same time Åland will be beached by 336th Guards Naval Infantry brigade, since Finnish response will be more limited and slower due lack of submarines and relative distance from principal AF bases from the Archipelago sea. Combined with Ålanders reluctance of having FDF forces present in islands during peacetime. Not to mention in times when there are definite threat of invasion. Russia will support these landings with AF action both in baltic and along Finnish-Russian border to keep FAFs ability to come into play in Ålands to a minimum. Initial operation will start by elements 76th Air Assault div being dropped to Marienhamn and vicinity, to gain foothold of islands principal harbour and airfield.
At the beginning of scenario Russian forces are airborne and violate Finnish Aerospace at 11.20 in morning. Also the 3 hovercraft are coming in fast carrying light armor and naval infantry Russian air element is mix of transports (4-6) and protecting fighters (12-16 MiG-35s and SU-35s). More fighters, at least two pairs, are airborne behind Finnish eastern border.
FAF has three flights airborne one in the north, one in east and one moving toward the Archipelago sea from base in Tampere.
Let the scenario unfold:
- Light fighter answer: The Gripens swoop in.
The four Gripens rushing towards Åland islands are loaded for Defensive counter air (DCA) /maritime strike package. Thus number of AA missiles is to kept as high as possible, and then give some thought for anti ship missiles. Loadout is as follows:
|IW wet 1,3t||chin 0,25t||RF 1,1t||CF wet 1,1t||LF 1,1t||IW wet 1,3t||OW 0,6t||WT 0,1t|
|IRIS-T||2x Meteor||RBS-15||AREXIS or liteningIII pod||Meteor||1100l drop tank||Meteor||RBS-15||2x Meteor||IRIS T|
One and three fighters in fourship is carrying AREXIS EW pod, two and four Litening III pods. RBS-15 is a Swedish Anti-Ship missile. There woiuld be a Norvegian NSM missile also, but I dont see FAF going to third ASM provider now. Four Gripens bring into the fight 24 meteors and 8 IRIS-Ts. Fighters were just taking off from Pirkkala AF base, and turn to head into the Archipelago sea. The russians are loaded for offensive counter air with R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) missiles with range of approximately 130km at altitude. And R-73 AA-11 Archer short range missiles.
Russian Suhoi SU-35 fighters have the edge in speed and in altitude, but their IRBIS-E PESA radars may well be unable to pick JAS-39E Gripens in heavy EW environment with Raven AESA radars and AREXIS pods jamming the Russian planes. Russians big Saturn engines on the other hand give nice visible heat bloom against cold space and are thus quite early picked up by Skyward-G IRST optic system. Meteor as a missile gives quite decisive edge with its enormous no-escape zone.
All Russian fighters are coming toward Finnish mainland from S to SW orientation, with other Russian fighters beyond border making moves so that DCA fighters to the east will not be able to help out in Archipelago sea. Finns try to maneuver into position to get launches toward transports, and thus spread their formation to more loose one. Russians on the other hand will try to screen their transports so that para drop can be successfully accomplished. The aerial battle will be over under 10 minutes. Gripens’ better radars, missiles (Meteor 320km at altitude vs 110 km for R-77-1) and EW equipment will see that they will emerge victorious from the fray against kinematically superior Suhois.
Gripens get to launch at 11.21 pretty much as soon as they get targets at about 150 km, and force Russians to yield space to Finns. First salvo will be 8 Meteor missiles. Which will fly at about 4 mach towards fighters doing about 1 mach towards them This combines to about 100km per minute closing speed. This gives missiles minute and 20 seconds of flight time. Nevertheless in about 100 km distance Russians’ SU-35 Irbis radars start to burn through the jamming and they get to launch too. That is however too little too late, as Meteors are getting within striking distance about that time. At 11.22,20 approximately, Russian don’t even necessarily know they have been fired upon until Meteors come in range. Russians are either forced to maneuver to make missiles miss, which may well be futile, or try to jam the missile and get own launches. Russians lose 5 planes in first exchange. (for about 63% hit rate, which may seem a bit low, but I cannot bringmyself to believe in 100% hit rate. Considering that for BVR AAM’s have consistently shoved about 5%-15% hit rate when fired in anger against reasonable competent adversary.) Five Sukhois drop into the sea between Nauvo and Houtskar islands. But as they have had to launch from extreme range Finns avoid the salvo quite handily.
However, this takes valuable time from the Finns as they should be concentrating on fires against the enemy transports. Russians get some launches and Finns have to maneuver away to avoid the salvo and turn toward North-West to get separation. 11.23 Finns turn back towards Åland to get in another salvo of 8 missiles in. Russians launch immediately when they realize that 1st salvo will miss, and Finns have to try to beat the incoming salvo by maneuvering and EW systems because of range has diminished to about 50 km. and missiles take about 30 seconds to reach targets. Finns score another 5 hits, but burn fuel and time avoiding the Russian R-77-1 missiles. Russian planes drop to approximately Kustavi-Kaarina line and around Turku. Russians hear that the transports are staring the parachute drops and thus fire another salvo to force Finns away once again. This time one R-77 detonates close enough to Gripen two to damage it and force it to return to Pirkkala base. Last two Russians from Eastern screen turn tail and run with their greater speed from the area.
Third Finnish salvo 4 Meteor scores another 3 hits and as the sky is clear from Russian fighter screen in the west, three remaining Gripen Es start toward Åland mainland again. They fire last two Meteor missiles against transports about 150km away and bring down two, but troops are already in ground.
Finns fly over the Åland mainland and scan the sea for possible targets. Fighters pick up three fast moving targets heading towards islands and get permission to fire. Targets are three Zubr class Air cushioned landing craft. Three Gripen E’s fire six of their RBS-15s missiles towards the craft. The missiles are picked up by the Zubrs AD radars and landing craft start evasive maneuvering and prepare to use CIVS system, against the missiles. Saturation attack is successful and manages to burn through the CIWS and AA missile defense and hits are scored on the Zubrs with one sinking. Two more limp along and manage to get into mainland Åland.
Next up will be the Rafales.