First: I do not have ANY knowledge of the “official” scenarios of the HX program, but I have tried to make educated guess what kind of situations these might be. DCA scenario is definately there as defensive and offensive counter air is the core mission of HX fighter.
Second: I have run these simulations on “Command Modern Operations”, so the simulation is as accurate as it can be on commercial software. So dont take this as Word of God, but it will still be around 60-70% accurate
The Super Hornet
F/A-18 E/F is seen as the “oldie but goldie” of HX- hopefulls. And indeed has achieved it’s Initial Operational Capability in 2001. (Typhoon 2003, Rafale 2001, F-35 2016 and JAS-39 Gripen has not yet achieved the IOC) For some unfathomable reason Boeings HX hopeful is seen as the “too old” in the competition, this may be because there is the F-35 C, but USN has never intended to replace the whole F-18 E fleet with Lightning IIs. USN is bying under 300 F-35 Cs, so there will be at least 300 Super Hornets in service side by side with the stealth fighters. This is if USN stays at 11-12 carriers.
On the other hand: USN has 2045 plan that would require force of at least 11 super carriers, and 6 light carriers. And light carriers not being “amphibious assault ships” but sort of medium carriers along the lines of Queen Elizabeth or France’s PANG carrier So there is MUCH room still for the 600 plane F/A-18 E/F/G force. This means that speculations of Super Hornets retirement are very much premature. In fact, with the situation deteoriating in South China sea and Sea of Japan, I would wager that there is need for more F/A-18 E/F/G air frames and squadrons as the USN grows to 500 ship navy.
In HX context we really don’t know what kind of A2A missiles Finland is looking for in tandem with the Rhinos. There are AMRAAM D, JATM and Peregrine missiles as options. Other than that, US congress sales permit made it really clear what else Finland is looking to a quire as stores for HX fighters.
In the simulation again it is very sobering to see how much Finland’s air defense is really centered around the missiles Air Force uses and their performance: IF we think perfect hit rate as pk50% (every volley of two missiles drops an enemy target) when kill probability goes under pk30% you are looking more and more likely hood of blue casualities. (1st column in picture below being the case in point: pk around 21%, four blue losses) This is mainly because the the red force will get so close that they can see targets and get to fire. After that Super Hornet is not at it’s strongest.
In this scenario I used F/A-18 Es with JATM missiles (Growlers were still with AMRAAM Ds). The AF-bases were the same, and again no fire untill at least four VVS fighters were in Finnish aerospace. As HX hopefulls go, F/A-18 E is in the slow side with F-35: Both can clock speeds up to 1,6 mach (This might be in some kind of load, because I have seen quotes of 1,8M clean/ in A2A nission) The European HX-hopefulls bit faster (Rafale 1,8 Mach, Gripen 2 Mach and Typhoon 2,2+ Mach). The speed is significant in two ways: It allowe you get faster where you need to be, and it helps missiles to fly a bit farther.(Height of launch is here more significant, but speed is not without impact on matter. Not to mention relative altitude between launching aircraft and the target)
Super Hornets AN/APG-79 radar is very sophisticated and powerful AESA radar and combined with long range AIM-260 JATM missile it gives quite a good accounting of itself. But as an average it seems that every third missile hits. One still has to point out, that frequently the F/A-18 Es tried shooting down the AS-17 and 18 missiles, and did get some scores, but that it is quite difficult exercise to pull it of.
As an interceptor F/A-18 E is not at its best performance, but never the less, it gives quite a good account of itself. Granted the first round was really awful, and 4 fighters were lost, but after that thing evened out. also Pk with JATM was on that time abyssal 0,224, so Suhois got really close and managed to shoot some missiles themselves. that led to casualties. When JATMs performed, there was no real problems in that account.
The basic scenario is introduced HERE. and as a side note: I do not know if HX scenarios really have a DCA scenario in Lapland and Northern Finland. You can rest assured there IS a DCA scenario, as that is the core competence of HX fighter.
Also it is good to bear in mind that Command Modern operations is commercial software, and not really military/government level simulation. I do suspect however that you get reasonably good picture of respective capabilities of the different platforms with this software.
Rafale gave exellent run for the money in Arctic winter warfare exercise this time around. One fighter was lost, on the ground, when Meteors and MICAs performed lest than stellarly, and VVS got to drop ordnance on Rovaniemi airfield. Also Rafales in this simulation were FR3.4 standard and NOT of FR4 standard that is offered to Finland, so there might be quite significant enchantments in capabilities in the pipelines.
The Early warning (KAVA) radars and surveillance radars (KEVA) took again serious beating and Air force would be seriously hampered in following weeks of fighting. Also Radars are truck mounted, so it is feasible that after fighting starts they should get the hell out of Dodge.
Rafale loadout philosofy is different from other HX candidates: It has 4 Meteors and four MICAs, For example Eurofighter Typhoon has 6 Meteor and 2 ASRAAM. This is because of well thought of MICA- RAFALE interplay, where Rafale fighter can get data from MICA IR missiles, and thus enhance platforms capabilities. Also MICA sports much longer range compared (80km) to IRIS-T(25km), ASRAAM (25km) or Sidewinder X(35km) missiles. So MICA offers much more offensive capability compared to other IR missiles in HX competition.
Even though Rafale’s don’t use that option very often in these scenarios (I’m pondering should I take more hand in running the simulation or not. In order to make the fighters fight to, as I see them, to edge of their capabilities.) But as scorecard tells us, MUCH more “short range” missiles are used compared to other runs, so I think this really reflects the capabilities Rafale brings into the fray.
As an Air superiority fighter Rafale is quite capable. While it can be described as fighter-bomber optimized platform, it is still very good as an air dominance. After all, Rafale dominated the former Swiss Fighter replacement program in air. (After politics came involved, winner was Gripen and in referendum “we the people” decided to do without the new fighters at all.) [There is lesson here for HX candidates as well, there is also political aspect in this whether you like it or not] The French messaging boards are quite confident in Rafales ability to pull in the deal. They see French HX-hopefull as politically most formidable, second most affordable and as a fighter the best offering in the bunch.
As a side note; there is in fact fighter replacement program going on in Switzerland currently as well, and candidates are the same apart from Gripen E which was deemed too immature to enter competition. This is of course noteworthy, as Gripen C/D won the last round, Granted E/F is still in development and it IS a rather “new plane” even though it looks like former C/D. The Swiss will be giving some kind of resolution in first quarter or 2021, so before Finnish “late April” timeline.
AS it can be seen here again. closer you get the 50% kill probability, the better the scenario is going to go on you. Another factor affecting the kp is how many AS-17/18 VVS side manages to shoot: Meteor and MICA are cabable of downing a missile too, but they don’t achieve nearly the kp assosiated with fighters.
So there; On video again Rafale did really good. And as a side note I did take more command in this run than with the previous ones. This is because after Typhoon or F-35 A have fired their BVR missiles there just isn’t much to do anymore. On Rafale on the other hand we still have four more mid range MICA missiles. I felt that I would be downplaying Rafales capability if I didn’t do this and thus not give a fair run.
Because of my more aggressive posture, I lost one Rafale though.
It is not a secret that F-35 A is not and Air Superiority Fighter: It is a Joint Strike Fighter. This Defensive Counter Air scenario brings the “failings” of the F-35 A platform to fore: It is not speedy (1,6 Mach in height), it doesn’t carry a lot of missiles (4 AIM-120D and 2 AIM-9X). These failings make it impossible for F-35 A to capitalize on it’s strengths in environment where there is a lot of targets but they are quite far apart.
As you can see from the scorecard, F-35 As have to quite often resort into AIM-9X WVR missiles. That in itself is not bad: they will get the job done just as well, but the problem is that there were not enough AMRAAMS to take care of all the targets that came within the striking distance. This leads to more losses on FAF side. VVS had a quite of easy task of taking down Rangemaster and other radar sites. Also they got to try taking down runways. Rovaniemi was gotten to three times and Oulu once. Fortunately bases kept working just fine. (I suspect that Command Modern Warfare is not configured really well for dispersed basing). So in this scenario lack of speed and missiles transferred to more losses in Radar and basing department.
So even though A-50 was present, it never got a bead on the F-35 As. Only time F-35 got shot down was when they got really close to SU-27 closing from SE. That led into a little furball that led to one downed and one hit F-35. So as VVS playbook goes, maybe it would be better to saturate the Lapland aerospace so that you would get evetually bead on the Lightnings, but this would be rather costly exercise.
AIM-120 D is last iteration of AMRAAM family of missiles, and it doesn’t give some kind of performance as with METEOR missiles. At least British F-35 Bs would have METEROR available, but as Congressional permit to sell AA missiles didn’t include AMRAAMS or JATMS,I think it could have been fair to use METEORs as well, but I just don’t see Lightning IIs without US made missiles. I do suspect that the HX deal will in the end include JATM missiles, if Lockheed gets the nod.
AS the AMRAAMS were fired mostly from extreme range, it was not too difficult for the VVS fighters to manouver to avoid them. That of course leads to lower Kps. In many instances F-35s fired right after taking off. And as a rule of the thumb every 6000m of height doubles the missiles range, you can see that the kill probability was not that high.
As with Typhoon, VVS got lucky 1,5 times when Lightnings got too close to comfort with Suhois, and they managed to get bead on the FAF. (After I give FAF the initial target, I don’t meddle in to keep all things even) One splashed, the another could return to base.
VVS was not really succesfull in strikes on Air Force bases: BetAP anti runway bobmlets did not render the facilities unusable. So one might say no “harm done”, but this fact that VVS COULD get over the air basing and COULD drop ordnance on the fields higlights the fact as Air Superiority fighter/interceptor F-35 leaves a lot to be desired. So I fail, to some extend, to see the point in RAND publication of NATO/EU airforce development. Unless they are going to operate in hunter killer configuration with sensor platforms (F-35s) in front and killers (F-22, F-15, F/A-18, Typhoon) shoot from behind.
If F-35 is a pony, it is hardly an one trick pony, but it’s best trick is not air superiority. That was not the core mission of it, so F-35 is not optimized on it. It would be ludricous to expect othervice.
Typhoon is the clearest Air Superiority platform of the HX-hopefulls, and has speed, agility and altitude advantage to all other candidates in Finnish fighter replacement program. THe EUrofighter Typhoon would be a pan European choice as it is in use in most premier Airforces in Europe: Great Britain, Germany and Italy. This assures that Typhoon will be in use with the proposed European 6th gen fighters in 2050’ies.
Typhoon is Air superiority optimized multi-role fighter which would give a great reach in time&space continuum for Finland. On the downside is that EF is a bit on expensive side both to procure and to fly. Armaments are the same for most HX candidates, so no big differences in there.
I simulated the scenario 5 times and did the video on sixth time. As you can see from the tally of losses it is quite hard to keep the Air defense and monitoring bubble intact in Northern Finland and Lapland against offensive operation, with four ship on initial patrol. But it is not totally undoable either. Limiting factor for success seems mostly to be the amount of A2A ordnance
With 6 Meteor 2 ASRAAM carried the staying power of Typhoons is limited by ordnance. One could do MUCH more harm to attaking VVS, if one had option to carry 10-12 Meteors on takeoff, with just internal fuel, or possibly one extra tank as the staying power is not limited by amout of AvGas carried, but amount of Foxes under wings. (I’m trying to keep this real, and not to meddle with the database.)
As mentioned, I did 5 runs on simulation and made a table of the results. Basics of each run was the same: VVS has it’s assets up, and Finns are launching two pairs to guard neutrality. Even though Typhoon is the fastest burner in HX competition even it doesn’t have time enough to zoom all over Lapland and be everywhere at once: Even Typhoon needs some time to come into Meteor range of red fighters to be able to fire. Fighters move fast, so time to react is always short.
Also, the KAVA radars (Thompson Rangemasters) are mounted on wheeled chassis, so after the shooting starts they should be able to pull stakes and change positions, in real life. But this simulation software doesn’t quite give that option here. As the Meteors are always fired two at a target from far range, you seldom get to re target the missiles if you score hits on 1st missile of the salvo. So that tends to push the kill ratio down (even if you get perfect score of 1 splash per salvo of two, your hit rate is still going to be 50%)
In the video things went pretty surprisingly: One Typhoon got hit but managed to return to base. This happened in a fur ball near Kajaani on the late stages of the video. Another gets his and is lost also. Finns also lost two radars, but managed also to down most VVS air assets (21).
So Eurofighter typhoon gave a good showing again.
Next up will be the Lockheed Martin F-35 on the weekend.
Disclaimer. I do not have any knowledge of what the scenarios used as a base for HX program fighter evaluation are, but I have tried to make an educated guess what these might be.
Also the suftware used for simulation is the most accurate simulation software in civilian market. Here the word in operation is civilian market, so I do not think I am 100% accurate in this simulation. I think the accuracy of simulation will be in the neighborhood of D/C in F-A scale or 2/3 in 1-5 scale. So more then 50% accurate, but not much more than 70% accurate.
The basics of the scenario
Scenario this time is Defensive Counter Air action in Lappland and Northern Finland. It is based on assumption what Russia would need to accomplish in order to brake out to Atlantic with Red Banner Northern Fleet surface forces to distrupt NATO reinforcements from arriving from USA and Canada. THis would need to be accomplished as a part of annexing of the Baltic States and distrupting NATO as a alliance.
In Finnish Defense Forces neck of woods this would mean at the very least guarding of neutrality in the Lapland and Southern Finland and we are now concentrating in Lappland in in extreme weather and in darkness. Russia would need to grab Norwegian Finnmark coast most of the way to Lofoten as well, in order to keep surface units secure from anti ship missiles and to most extent of NATO submarines. This would involve land attack to NATO Northern flank and shortest way to Lofotes island runs through Finnish and Swedish Lappland. So the WILL be sizeable shooting war there.
As a preliminary for that attack there needs to be air action to limit effectiveness of Finnsih and Swedish Air Forces in the theatre.
Russian AF bases have (Accroding to Pentti Perttula’s “Nykyaikainen ilmasodankäynti” page 119 ) 14 SU-33 multi role fighters in Severomorsk 3 AFB. 17 SU-24MR strike planes and 14 MiG-25RB recon planes in Montsegorsk and 52 SU-27 at Petrozavodsk/Besovets AFB. The OCA and strike elements are composed of these forces. There may have been changes, but it will be close enough for this scenario.
So here we are….
VVS is heading in from all the bases that they have around Kola and Karelia. They have support of Il-50U MAINSTAY AWACS and Il-22PP EW platform. Radar and jamming are active on the beginning of scenario.
Finnis side has three radars active: long range Ahvenvaara out in the north, Kajaani in the south (Says JAMMED) next to it on picture and Middle distance one Sodankylä (also JAMMED). I think that MIGHT have been going for some time, so that to get Finnish radar operators used to having their radars jammed, and not take it too seriously. Also the game is to get time for the strike package and the SEAD package to get to shoot without alarming the defense.
Finnish AD network picks up the Packages at about 11 minustes after the scenario has begun at about KEVA (Thompson Groundmaster). and to the south with KAVA (TRS 2230 radar) at 192,3 nm
After this we proceed to performance of different HX candidates. Permission to fire is given once something is detected on Finnish side of the border. Finnish side has 14 fighters available that are disperced in all over the Lapland and Northern Finland.
The air force and ministry of defense are getting ready to send final request for tender by the end of this month. We got some inkling what the bid entails from Foreign Military Sales permit from US Congress in October 2020: as planes go either 64 F-35 As or 72 Boeing F/A-18 E/F/Gs (50 Es, 8 Fs and 12 Gs respectively). This along with various munitions and equipment (no mention there about AMRAAMs or JATMs though). JATM should be available by 2021, so it should be available for US planes in HX competition, when 2025 comes along. Obviously MBDA Meteor will be integrated to F-35 by that time too, so it could be outside chance fo BWR-missile. The Lockheed asks for 10,6G€ and Boeing 12,5G€ for the packet. There is no same kind of data from European competitors.
As always, left side of political spectrum is complaining about the price tag associated with the HX-program, and how the money could be spent much more sensibly on X, Y or Z. There has also been calls to limit the HX program to 40 fighters and other such, mostly meant for own voters kind of stuff. Also limiting to 40 planes have been quoted because “Finland doesn’t want to go on offensive war.”
Over the weekend Finnish Broadcasting Corporations Swedish language side started making noises about “not having honest discussion about HX program”. They quoted professor Hiilamo about the level of discussion. I’m sure prof. Hiilamo is bees knees in his own field, social policy, but as his beef with the HX program centers about it’s costs and not so much about the why and how many? Of the matter.
The “YYA-sopimus” people (agreement on friendship, co-operation and assistance) [The agreement that made Finladisierung the thing in 1960’ies] folk would sleep much better, if there was “only a few” fighters, say max 24, and they would only have defensive missiles. The cause of this is: “our fighters will be shot down in few minutes anyhow” and “money would be much better spend on [insert your pet cause here]”. I have proved in various simulations that even a quite limited technically advanced fighter force will be able to conduct effective defensive counter air against technologically near peer larger air force. Also this YYA people would only consider fighter that is made in Sweden, because of neutrality.
This message was brought to fore by bunch of wellmeaning fools (Kansan uutiset is far left paper associated with Finnish Vasemmistoliitto, a part little right from communist and left of socialists). who wanted to take a time out in HX-program. They feel that more comprehensive evaluation of defense policy and broader options. (Maybe they would like to see Russian and/or Chinese “peace”fighters in place of western “oppressor” fighters).
Other folks, so called “S2A missile people” see that it would be better to spent the odd G€ to get the surface to air defense into top notch. This would not of course be bad way to go as such, and with enough missiles and launchers would create a hefty size AD bubble around the vital parts of Finland. This would of course mean that Finnish Defense Force would loose the much of the capability to project power especially into Åland Archipelago and more broadly into the Baltic sea. This would mean that Finland would in essence drop the Åland neutrality agreement. This would be very costly exercise in Finnish blood, as by agreement FDF would have to take Åland back in some time frame.
Virolaisella Milrem Robotics yrityksellä on uusi kiinnostava tuote, joka julkaistiin kuluvalla viikolla. Type-X combat etäohjattava/robottitankki. Firman sarjassa on myöskin telaketju kantojuhta, joka on tarkoitettu periaatteessa kantamaan ryhmän vermeitä ja muuta raskasta kalustoa, jolloin säästetään taistelijoita.
Type X sensijaan on “land loyal wingman” eli miehitetylle tankille tai miehistökuljetusajoneuvolle tarkoitettu siipimies, joka parantaa miehitety tankin selviytymiskykyä ja laajentaa tankin havaintokuplaa. Alustan aseet ovat etäohjautuvia, koska Lännessä on lähes tunteellinen suhtautuminen autonomisten aseiden itsenäiseen tulenkäyttöön. Tämä on arvovalinta, ei niinkään teknologinen rajoitus. Epäilen, että raskaasti häirityssä ElSo tilassa saattaa, ainakin pidemmillä matkoilla, tulla vaikeuksia datan kulussa molempiin suuntiin. Alusta pystyy liikkumaan autonomisesti joko “seuraa johtajaa” tai weipointtien kautta.Laitteen toiminnalisuutta ohjataan joko paikanpäällä tabletilla tai suunnittelutyökalulla esikunnassa.
Tyyppi-X painaa noin 12 tonnia ja sen pituus on 6m leveys vähän vajaa kolme ja korkeus 2,2 metriä. Verkkosivu ei ilmoita millaisella tornilla mitat pitävät paikkaansa, mutta se ei ole asiassa nyt niin kauhean tärkeää. Voimanlähde on diesel-sähköinen, ja niin hiljainen, että se ei varoita lähestyvästä robotista.
Aselavettina Type-X on riittävän vakaa aina 50mm automaattikanuunalle asti, ja siihen tulee etäohjattu asetorni. Lisätulivoimaa tuo geneerinen 7,62 konekivääri. Aselavettina se on siis ajateltu NATO-maiden arsenaaliin sopivaksi ja kyseinen 50mm automattikanuuna lienee Bushmaster III kanuuna, josta on suunnitteilla moinen vähän karkeareikäisempi versio. Luonnollisesti aijemmat 25mm ja siitä ylöspäin olevat Bushmasterin aseet käyvät myös. ensimäisenä tulee versio 30mm automaattikanuunan kanssa.
Suunnittelukonseptina on ajateltu, että Type-X tarjoaa mekanisoidun jalkaväen taisteluajoneuvon tai vastaavan tulivoiman tai sen ylittävän tulivoiman. 50mm automaattikanuuna on luonnollisesti vaarallinen myös tankeille sivulta päin ammuttuna. Vaunu on suojattu venäläisen 14,5x114mm konekiväärin tulta 200m päästä ammuttuna vastaan (STANAG 4569). Koska vaunun sisällä ei ole herkkiä ja pehmeitä ihmisiä, vaan laitteita, lienee tuommoinen hieman kevyempi suoja riittävä Type-X vaunulle. Valmistjan mukaan Type X:ssä on haettu ennenkaikkea liikkuvuutta.
This post has been long overdue! Reasons for this has been my studies for engineering degree, and family life. But without further ado, let us get into business!
All the HX candidates were present, but unfortunately Eurofighter Typhoon only with small stand and a model of Typhoon There were two fluing planes, but no to really talk to. SAAB was all out again and had MARVELOUS! area. One could sit in JAS-39 E GRIPEN cockpit and there was also flying example on the site.
SAAB was also responssible of maybe the biggest news splash of the Kauhava 2020 airfair: They announced their decoy/jammer UAV (sort of a missile, sort of a drone, but EW/Jammer as a payload) After this addition to cababilities, Gripen E should be at par or better with all the other HX-contenders. Do not get me wrong: JAS-39 Gripen E is a great fighter! But it was lacking in capability to jam enemy radars without being itself in the harms way. AREXIS EW/jammer pods are a great system, but they were carried by the plane, so at very least home-on-jamming missiles would be a serious threat to jamming Gripens.
Also a big first was SAABs Global Eye in Kauhava! Two of these (mini)AWACS planes are in the bid for HX-program. System like this extends the detection range of radar network out to 450km and also close to ground. The Global Eye is maybe the special strength of SAABs bid: It offers capabilities nobody else comes close to offering. On a side note, Finnish procurement plan for HX-program is about 20% too low: No HX contender has been able to provide the asked “full capabilities overhaul” within the 10G€ cap. So I think there will be haggling about this and that on 2021. These kinds of capabilities don’t come cheap. but you cant get them when you need them otherwise. Also I will be doing a longer post on Global eye in the spring.
Dassault was also present in force! They had brought Armee del Air acrobatics flyer with them! The French bid is, for some unfathomable reason, seen as a bit lackluster by the general audience, but Rafale does everything the the peers do, and while carrying a lot of ordnance! Rafale is optimized striker, but it that does not deduct of her air to air capabilities. Rafale is agile fighter that would be a good fit for Finnish Airforce as well. On the plus side you get all the common NATO armaments and a few extras that the French make better! For example HAMMER guidance kits for bombs and MICA missiles. MICAs can do some really clever tricks with electronics of the Rafale to enhance the fighters capabilities.
Dassault tells that MICa missiles can be fired over the shoulder of the plane, and be guided by somebody other than the original firer to target. So this might play out like something like this: target pops up behind and to the side of the Rafale. Second Rafale might be behind but out of range to shoot, so the first Rafale can fire a MICA over to the side and behind and the second Rafale can guide it to target, so that 1st Rafale can start evading.
So that said, Rafale is an exellent fighter in her own right, but how I see things, it does everything well, but there is no catch. I do not know what there might be for Dassault and French government to sweeten the deal and to bring that little something extra. It might be something EU-policies related, it might be something to do with defense and security aspect of EU. But as I said, if it is in hardware or capabilities, I do not have knowledge of this.
The flight performance of the Rafale dispaly was suberb. You can view it on a link HERE
Boeing and F/A-18 E/F/G was also present in strenght and I had good fortune to speak about Loyal Wingman (Air power teaming system ) as well in Boeing booth. At this stage Loyal wingman is not, yet, part of HX-bid but very likely be part of future MLU update. Loyal wingman is basically a unmanned fightersize and capable drone. It’s main duty is to fly forward of the controlling fighter and use it’s sensor suite to pick targets for the fighter.
What is also significan, IMHO is that as Alan Garcia confirmed, that Super hornet Block III CAN fit quad missile pylons. They are not in offer to finland, but never the less be great asset: AMRAAM is not heavy, but they are bulky, pylons can carry upwards of 1500kg of ordnance, but it has to be rather narrow. This would, even if you can only carry the quad pylon on inner wing stations, missile count of Rhino from 12 to 16. Well, more likely 12 still, but with some other doo hikeys.
The extra interest in Boeing offer is the E/A-18 G Growler. It is worlds most advanced electronic attack platform. Growler would really be game changer in our neck of woods if push comes into a shove. All HX candidates can do self protection, some of them can even do escort jamming. But Boeing’s bid has the only dedicated EA platform to do it.
The F-35 Lightning II is the perceived forerunner of the race for the laymen: It is low observable platform, that will have a lot of users around the world and Europe. It is the marvel of best American engineering money can buy. It can do a lot by virtue of its shape and sensor package, but there are some limitations.On the other hand, the low observable engineered shape goes to naught if you start hanging all kinds of ordnance into the wings.
Lockheed Martin and F-35 has taken a lot of FLAK internationally and nationally with it’s bid. There has been nasty lobbying incident, the fighter has been too expensive and too slow, it can’t carry enough ordnance and there has been all kinds of delays in the procurement. Some, if not most, is about making headlines, and rest is maybe not as dramatic. Developing a new fighter and making it top notch is time consuming and expensive.
The price of F-35 A has come down considerably, and is about the same as with the other HX fighters. There are clouds in horizon for F-35 though. IR Array and multistatic radar technology goes forwards by leaps and bounds, so low observable might not be the winning bet for all times to come. Now I’m not saying F-35 is one trick pony, but it may well see her margins of excellence diminishing.
Eurofigter Typhoon didn’t have sales people on the site because of COVID-19, but I’m quite sure they are still wanting to participate and push Typhoon forward. The catch with Typhoon is for the Finns the access to Britain’s national intelligence satellite network, which would bring ISTAR capabilities for FDF.
Jos haluat liittyä vetoomuksen allekirjoittaneisiin, laita viesti, niin liitän sinut joukkoon.
Arvoisat Tasavallan Presidentti, Puolustusministeri sekä kansanedustajat,
Koska eri HX tarjouskilpailuun osallistuneiden valmistajien tarjoukset ovat olleet noin 10-20% arvioidun 10 miljardin euron summan yli, on pääteltävä, että HX hanke on alimitoitettu noin viidenneksellä. Edelleen Suomessa HX-laskelmissa käytetty 64 hävittäjän määrä tulee Pariisin rauhansopimuksesta vuodelta 1947, jossa Suomi pyrittiin riisumaan käytännössä aseista. Tarkoituksena näillä rajoitteilla oli varmistaa Suomen tilan haltuunotto tai käyttö tarpeen vaatiessa Neuvostoliiton toimesta. Suomessa käytetty 64 hävittäjän määrä perustuu tarpeeseen riisua ilmavoimat koneista, ei tieteelliseen arvioon todellisesta kone tarpeesta.
Konevalmistajien analyysiin perustuva noin 1-2 miljardin lisärahoitus vaaditaan, että voidaan katsoa F/A-18 C/D kaluston kyvyt korvatun täysimääräisesti. Koska kuitenkin olemassa olevan kaluston määrä on myös alimitoitettu, täytyy Suomen tehdä merkittävä lisäpanostus Ilmavoimien kykyyn toimia koko Suomessa.
Ilmavoimat on tärkein ja nopein tapa projisoida voimaa sekä Suomen alueella että Suomen lähialueille. Erityisesti Ilmavoiman kyky torjua pinta-aluksia Pohjois-Itämerellä ja Saaristomerellä on ensiarvoisen tärkeää ajatellen Ahvenanmaan alueen puolustusta ja hallussapitoa kriisiaikoina. Pirkkalan lentotukikohdan hävittäjälaivueen lakkautus on luonut vakavan tyhjiön Suomen lounaispuolelle. Kun yhtälöön lisätään erilaiset vieraiden valtioiden valmistelut ja toimet alueella, lisää tämä sodan riskiä.
Näiden seikkojen takia, haluamme me allekirjoittaneet että:
On July 29, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper unveiled a new plan for European Command’s force posture, which will result in the reduction of 11,900 troops currently stationed in Germany. Of those troops, a little under half will be repositioned across Europe while the remainder will redeploy to the United States and subsequently conduct rotational deployments to Europe. This decision follows an extensive DoD-wide review optimizing US military force posture within the strategic environment of great power competition.
Company-level leaders will likely spend at least the next decade of their careers preparing to fight and win ground wars in contested environments—especially in Europe, where the Army is likely to have a more central role than in the Indo-Pacific, with its comparatively more significant maritime domain. So, what should tactical-level leaders preparing to deploy for a rotation to Europe expect to encounter in that theater?
Russia, of course, remains the Army’s most direct competitor in Europe. Forward-positioned Army aviation and armor forces constitute critical capabilities for countering Russian threats to European territorial integrity and US national interests. While the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade is permanently assigned to Ansbach, Germany, no armored brigade combat team has been permanently stationed in Europe since 2014. Russia’s invasion of Crimea that same year, however, reversed America’s decision to retrograde its armored forces. In an effort to reestablish deterrence following this invasion, the United States sent small numbers of tanks to Europe for short deployments throughout 2015.
The following year brought significant changes to the US force posture in Europe. A seminal 2016 report by the RAND Corporation war-gamed a hypothetical Russian invasion of the Baltic states and found that Russian forces would reach the outskirts of the Estonian or Latvian capitals within sixty hours—and perhaps in as few as thirty-six. The report further assessed existing NATO defenses would be completely overwhelmed and that the alliance would have to launch a bloody counteroffensive to eject Russian forces from the Baltics. RAND ultimately recommended that NATO position a force of approximately seven brigades, augmented by airpower and fire support, in the Baltics to prevent them from being rapidly overrun by a Russian attack.
NATO had arrived at similar conclusions and solidified the Enhanced Forward Presence initiative at the July 2016 Warsaw summit. This involved the assignment of four multinational battalions—separately led by German, British, Canadian, and US forces—to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; it was the largest addition to the NATO defense posture in a generation. In 2017, the Army contributed additional forces by executing its first nine-month heel-to-toe deployments of armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades to Europe. The armor rotations will likely continue in the near term, even as discussions between DoD, Congress, and NATO allies continue regarding drawdown of US forces in Germany and the potential establishment of a permanent US base in Poland.
This is the operational environment tactical-level leaders will find when they get to Europe. It is also one that will see them occupy more traditional roles at the tactical level as part of conventional, combined arms teams than has been the case during the long years of America’s post-9/11 wars. Despite this, the qualities required of “strategic lieutenants” in Iraq and Afghanistan remain important. Junior leaders must still be educated in strategy, history, and current affairs to make informed decisions when they find themselves at the forefront of the US military’s place in great power competition.
Learning the Terrain and the Enemy
Preparation for a deployment to Europe should begin with every soldier understanding the tactical, operational, and strategic environment into which the unit will deploy. Leaders should leverage their unit intelligence sections to provide background briefings in addition to the doctrinal outputs from the intelligence preparation of the battlefield process. The intelligence section’s early provision of friendly and enemy equipment recognition guides will assist every soldier in distinguishing friend from foe. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of friendly force equipment will ease future planning for partnered training events in theater.
Additionally, leaders and the intelligence section should together analyze the terrain of their future area of operations and prepare maps and graphics for anticipated training areas. Germany’s Hohenfels Training Area, Bulgaria’s Novo Selo Training Area, and Poland’s Drawsko Pomorskie and Bemowo Piskie Training Areas and Miroslawiec Air Base are among the most commonly frequented by units deploying to Europe. The brigade’s geospatial-intelligence cell should distribute standardized tactical maps of central Europe and the Baltic states that clearly illustrate avenues of approach suitable for wheeled and tracked vehicles. Furthermore, units should study battles fought on the same terrain to accumulate historical context and lessons learned. World War II’s Eastern Front offensives coupled with Cold War planning to secure key terrain like the Fulda Gap are useful in informing the way we conceptualize today’s strategic environment and concerns with the Suwalki Gap. Additionally, the Soviet Army’s Vistula–Oder Offensive in January 1945 serves as a particularly useful case study to help armor leaders visualize a combined arms attack across Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine into Germany. The Army University Press even offers free virtual staff rides of the Battles of the Marne (1914) and Stalingrad (1942–1943) to facilitate historical analysis of European warfare. Table-top exercises to study these battles can be incorporated into existing company and battalion leader professional development programs to build readiness. Because terrain does not change much over time, junior leaders’ investment in terrain analysis is almost guaranteed to yield future dividends.
However, future Russian military operations in Europe will likely look much different than those executed in the past. Therefore, historical study must be accompanied by thorough examination of emerging Russian military technology and tactics. Russia’s campaigns in Syria, Libya, and Ukraine’s Donbas region provide insight into how the Russian military fights in the modern age, task-organizing electronic warfare at the lowest echelons, for instance, and incorporating private military companies as force multipliers. Within Europe, the Russian military has also leveraged well-coordinated intelligence collection and information operations against US and NATO forces to discredit them. As such, even company-level training can yield strategic consequences if thoroughly exploited by the Russians. The battalion staff and company leadership should therefore explore how to best allocate the unit’s intelligence collection and analysis capabilities across the formation and manage the unit’s digital footprint. Rotational units may conduct exercises on NATO’s eastern flanks not far from Russian training sites; such proximity inherently puts friendly units at risk of Russian intelligence collection and information operations.
The unit intelligence section owns the lion’s share of creating shared understanding of Russian military capabilities and vulnerabilities, but the unit should also liaise with other organizations in the intelligence community particularly the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Ground Intelligence Center, to obtain classified intelligence reports and briefings on the current enemy situation, Russian order of battle, and hybrid warfare. These agencies may even be willing to host site visits for unit leaders or, at a minimum, participate in classified video teleconferences to brief unit leaders on their future area of operations. Unit leaders could then maintain relationships with the agencies’ European threat analysts throughout the deployment and provide bottom-up refinement of their intelligence assessments. Such collaboration will only benefit both the Army and the intelligence community over time.
Leaders at the battalion or brigade level should also contact Army FAOs—foreign area officers—at the European embassies in countries where the unit will deploy. FAOs can bridge military and political considerations, providing strategic insight beyond the usual purview of a brigade combat team. FAOs can also coordinate briefings with an embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation and Defense Attaché Office and might provide recommended readings that unit leaders can incorporate into leader professional development programs.
Basic Deployment Readiness for the European Mission
Although “readiness” has been the Army’s watchword nearly a decade, it includes theater-specific considerations for rotational deployments to Europe. Company leaders in Europe-aligned units, therefore, can begin pursuing the qualifications and licensing necessary to mobilize for deployment. The standard qualifications for a unit mobility officer, hazardous material, vehicle drivers’ licenses, and government credit cards should be supplemented by international drivers’ licenses, training for contracting officers, and disbursement of funds, along with arranging for diplomatic clearances. Additionally, identifying soldiers in the unit who speak European languages can inform manning for liaison officer positions and build the capability to read local open-source material in the unit’s future area of operations.
Lastly, studying successful previous rotational deployments and partnered training events can ease the workload of training management during the deployment. As institutional knowledge of these rotational deployments is still somewhat limited, unit leaders should look to previous units’ experiences to inform the preparation for their own.
This great power competition environment, with its reduction of traditional “combat deployments,” places rotational training events in higher regard. Tactical leaders face an incredible leadership challenge when determining how to prepare and deploy soldiers to these events. As defense budgets continue to contract, the Army must retain strategic and operational flexibility to provide its stabilizing influence on global affairs. Readiness to deploy composes a large portion of this flexibility. While it is impossible to be 100 percent ready at all times, tactical leaders must understand that while they are not actively deployed, they will likely be training or assisting their higher headquarters to train. They must understand further that while officers and senior noncommissioned officers rotate through units frequently, their lower ranking noncommissioned officers and lower enlisted soldiers do not. It is the tactical leaders’ burden to shoulder this understanding and responsibly steward soldiers’ time in the garrison environment, with the knowledge that near-constant rotational deployments and training cycles likely lay ahead. Communication of the long-range training calendar to soldiers and their families can help manage expectations and prepare the force for increased operational tempo. Any type of predictability that unit leaders can provide is critical.
Given the constraints that a typical brigade combat team’s training cycle levies upon its members with respect to field time and time away from family, considerations must be made to fully understand the impacts of training decisions made. An unfortunate truth of being assigned to an armored brigade combat team is the necessity of longer-duration training events given their cost. Thus, tactical-level leaders should maintain a pulse on their formations in multiple ways. Command climate surveys, family days and activities, and simple off-duty interactions between members of the unit can enable leaders to understand these impacts. Successful management of time at the small-unit level leads to more productive soldiers.
The role of tactical-level leaders in an era of great power competition is important—and challenging. They face a complex and uncertain operational environment and a highly demanding operational tempo during rotational deployments. It is likely that they will be left with fewer and fewer resources to complete their tasks as hard decisions are made about future budget allocations. Yet despite these challenges, it is important to realize that they are surmountable. These rotations are at the very center of great power competition, and their strategic implications are vast. Leaders at the tactical level have a contribution to make, and the US military’s effectiveness in this new era will hinge, in part, on their ability to adapt to and succeed in this dynamic operational environment—on the front lines of great power competition.
Maj. Brigid Calhoun graduated from the US Military at West Point in 2011 and served in the 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) as the brigade assistant S-2, the 1-503 Infantry Battalion (Airborne) S-2, and military intelligence company commander. She is currently pursuing a master of policy management from Georgetown University as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Internship Program.
Capt. Alexander Boroff is a fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an armor officer currently serving in the Joint Staff Public Affairs Office as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Internship Program. His previous publications include topics such as general organizational leadership in public and private sectors, as well as Army reconnaissance training. He tweets at @UnsolicitedArmy.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.