Finnish national broadcasting corporation did two pieces of HX-replacement program yesterday. There was regular news story HERE and discussion and piece in current affairs program A-studio. These go hand in hand, sort of. What was really interresting was that discussion in A-studio concentrated very much in the fourth aspect of combat aircraft: the political dimension.
Vasemmistoliitto, the left wing socialist/right wing communist party member Paavo Arhinmäki MP, owned up to their bias toward Gripen E, because of “good Defence co-operation with Sweden” and “common reasons”. Common reasons meant in times when Red Star was trump that Soviet Union wouldn’t like it. Nowadays it must mean that Putin/Russia wouldn’t be keen on it.
Foreign experts that were consulted in matter said the same thing: Choices mean that you emphasis different things in security policy: F-35 was seen as the NATO first option, Rafale as Pro EU option, Although I would like to differ in that: Typhoon is not only British option: Spain, Germany and Italy use it too. F-18 E was seen almost as neutral option as the Gripen, which might be surprising.
All the politicos wanted to go about the HX-program capabilities firts and possibility of parliament walking over the FDF was seen as remote chance. This is not so: FDF will keep ALL the candidates in until the last possible moment. THIS is as it should be: Indeed it is the parliament who must decide this. precisely because it involves the political aspects of the HX deal. The point is that Air force evaluates and tells the parliament what is the conclusion say along the lines, we need 25 planes in option A and 27 planes in option B.
In reality ALL the proposals will include precisely 64 fighters. SAAB puts in two mini AWACS planes, which is a great force multiplier. Boeing has unparalleled EW/SEAD capabilities in G-Growler Rhinos and “Loyal Wingman”, Lockheed Martin has the stealthiest fighter, BAE has the greatest Air to Air fighter and Dassault offers greatest Air to Ground striker or a mud mover. It is impossible to have a glimpse into the program because we know nothing about the scenarios that HX fighters need to tackle. (Apart that there are 7 of them). SO we would really need to know what is in the requirements. But it seems we will hear it sometimes in 2030’ies.
We can guess that there is a air policing scenario, OCA and DCA scenarios must be there, and also deep strike. That is four out of seven.
Really the question is WHAT capabilities you will favor most in HX contenders. Every one of them is a great fighter in their own right and all are capable of providing the capabilities FDF wants.