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Croatia's fighter replacement competition


Dawes
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Pilots and military wanted anything that actually flies and can be used as a fighter. Politicians had no clue and got what they thought was the "best" (not best performances). In the end pilots and military are happy that they got anything, even if it was not be first on their list.

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5 hours ago, TrustMe said:

 

The Croatians probably wanted something multirole than just a point defence interceptor which is what the Gripen is.

Gripen's just as multirole as the others. That's what 'JAS' designation means.

Any way, the point about Rafale being 'overkill' for Croatia is understandable, though performance-wise, it certainly is superior to others. It's a matter of having a credible combat a/c in stead of vaguely fighter-like plane which can check out rogue airliners and nothing else. Similar arguments were made when Finland chose F/A-18 in early '90s: "It is unnecessarily powerful". In Finland's case, that argument doesn't fly very far, though (pun intended).

Wasn't president of Croatia heavily cheerleading for US choice? I'd think that any political advantage would lie with USA rather than France, much less Sweden.

Edited by Yama
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USA is far away. France is near.  Sending the planes for servicing is easy.


You could always do the major maintenance in Poland, or even Turkey. It has not stopped Slovakia from getting F-16s.

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Basically the Gripen was designed as a point defence interceptor capable of quick turn around of refueling and weapon reloading by a team composed of conscript trained level of engineers. It was designed with an austere operating capability (all those road based runways) and has a short take off distance in certain fuel and weapon loadouts. It has around 20% to 25% of the operating cost of the Rafale on a per operating hour basis which is very important for small air forces. 

Sure you could call it multi role but it was not optimized for that role.

Edited by TrustMe
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I've wondered this myself. The French use double seater Rafale's for strike and recon operations and single seater for anti-air missions. The two seater theory is that strike missions are so labour intensive no matter how intuitive the cockpit avionics are, that you need two men to accomplish a mission. The French have done this since the Mirage 2000D and other countries do this such as Israel with the two man F16I. Yet the Croatian buy has 10 single seater and just 2 double seater aircraft indicating that the CAF believe air to air missions are needed more than strike missions. 

 

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2 hours ago, TrustMe said:

Basically the Gripen was designed as a point defence interceptor capable of quick turn around of refueling and weapon reloading by a team composed of conscript trained level of engineers. It was designed with an austere operating capability (all those road based runways) and has a short take off distance in certain fuel and weapon loadouts. It has around 20% to 25% of the operating cost of the Rafale on a per operating hour basis which is very important for small air forces. 

Sure you could call it multi role but it was not optimized for that role.

You either know something no one else knows or you do not know much at all about Gripen.

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6 minutes ago, TrustMe said:

I stand by my statement.

Could you share some source(s) that backs this up? I know that equipment from smaller nations isn't always that well known while "everyone" knows "everything" about planes like the F-16 or the Mig-29 but this sounds weird really. I have followed the Gripen, through media, since it was designed and i don't think I have ever come across such a statement in either Swedish or foreign publications.

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3 hours ago, TrustMe said:

Basically the Gripen was designed as a point defence interceptor capable of quick turn around of refueling and weapon reloading by a team composed of conscript trained level of engineers. It was designed with an austere operating capability (all those road based runways) and has a short take off distance in certain fuel and weapon loadouts. It has around 20% to 25% of the operating cost of the Rafale on a per operating hour basis which is very important for small air forces. 

Sure you could call it multi role but it was not optimized for that role.

No it was not. Whole point of the aircraft was that it could replace all other combat aircraft types in RSwAF inventory. In fact first Gripens went to replace Viggens in attack and recon squadrons. Quick turnaround time is useful in attack aircraft as well.

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My post was based on 25 years of reading books, internet searchers and frequenting websites such as www.acig.info. A great site which, occasionally has actual aircraft pilots give vital insights on aircraft and war stories to tell.

Think of the Gripen as replacement for the US F5E Tiger 2. It does a good job and is good "bang for your buck". There are a lot of good things about the Gripen. It has a AESA radar (which if you haven’t got AESA then there is no point buying it) and was the first European plane to be equipped with the Meteor AAM. It also has native AWACS support through data links.

About multi role. The British Tornado was, when it was conceived in the late 1970’s, was called the MRCA, (multi role combat aircraft) yet it never was developed into a multi role platform due to cutbacks. From what I understand (and I admit I’m not sure about this but) when the Gripen was conceived it was intended to have a large number of precision guided air to ground weapons, but these were mostly dropped due to cost.

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Gripen C/D (which was offered for Croatia) does not have AESA radar. Though, one is in the works for it.

Swedish Viggen replacement project began in the '70s and the initial plan was to order new attack variant of Viggen, 'A 20', and new light attack/trainer 'B3LA' which was even given designation Saab 38. Modernized attack variant of Draken was also considered. However, when government ordered Jaktviggen to replace Drakens, they also announced that the attack aircraft will be replaced with multirole ('JAS') foreign aircraft as it was getting too expensive to develope domestic fighting aircraft. This killed off A 20 and B3LA, although latter sort of lived through AMX.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dr-DKRwWwAERnE5?format=jpg&name=large

This was shock to Swedish aircraft industry, and the cluster quickly scraped together a proposal that they can develope 'JAS' aircraft on their own and it won't be more expensive than a foreign option. Swedish AF actually evaluated F-16, F/A-18 and F-5S (which later evolved into F-20). Hornet won the evaluation, but domestic choice won out in the end.

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12 hours ago, bojan said:

For what does Croatia needs "true" multirole aircraft?

Well, all of the offered aircraft are multirole. Rafale's more multirole than the others, probably. Any way, single role combat aircraft are thing of the past anyway. Rafale is easily better than the others in air combat and interceptions too.

There is of course the risk of Austrian example, where they acquired Eurofighter for which is essentially simple QRA role and then found out it is way too expensive to operate for that purpose.

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Considering the size of Croatia, point defence it is. And apart from nuclear strike Gripen and Rafale are both multirole with the Rafale twin seater being more strike optimized. But seriously for Croatia both would be just fine. F-16s would have been best though.

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20 hours ago, bojan said:

For what does Croatia needs "true" multirole aircraft?

1. Some states in Croatian neighbourhood have internal problems and problems with their neighbours so probability of another war unfortunately isn't past. 

2. For quantity of only 12 planes there are no sence to have airplane for only one mission.

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It is not that Croatia does not need multirole aircraft, question is more related how exactly Rafale is better for Croatia in that department than Grippen that other poster implied is not "true multirole".

PS.  Do you have any info if those will be based on the single base or split between two (second is far more logical due the Croatian geography, but creates own host of logistical problems)?

Edited by bojan
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7 hours ago, Simon Tan said:

Most of multiroling is in the electronics and software. 

Yes, times when attack aircraft had to be high wing loading to provide stable firing platform are long gone...

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I just read this in Airforce Monthly a UK aircraft magazine. I type it in for all to read.

Rafale Rolls On

So little Croatia is the latest country to opt for Dassault’s enhanced Rafale F3-R. It’s been an unbelievable few years of exports for the multi-role French jet since 2015, with orders from Qatar (36), Egypt (54), India (36 so far) and Greece (18). With each order being racked up, the operational cost per hour is coming down. Back in 2005, the French military (which flies more than  150) was allegedly paying 56,000  Euros, but according to my sources it’s now closer to 35,000 Euros. But I guess the definition of operational hour is open to debate.

Nevertheless, 35,000 Euros per hour is quite a hike in cost, compared with the tired old second generation MiG 21bis the Croatian air force is currently flying to protect its airspace. Undoubtedly, the financial burden will have a knock on effect to the operational level’s in  other service's.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Rafale for me is the data fusion capabilities. The Thales SPECTRA (self protection equipment to counter threats for Rafale aircraft) electronic warfare systems totally integrated into the aircraft is partially impressive. It can detect long range threats, build up the PID (position identification) through its infrared search and track mode, then the SPECTRA threat library can automatically select the on board weapon to beat its adversary. All of this is under way without the pilot doing any more than flying the jet. This is one facet of the aircraft that has undoubtedly endeared customers, as well as the reasonably support and training packages. Qatar, Egypt, India and Greece were doubtlessly very interested in the Storm Shadow or Scalp air launched cruise missile, which the US under ITAR (international Traffic in Arms Regulations) will not sell. Croatia will never have a need for such a weapon and, unlike the initial customers, do not operate the Mirage 2000 so the French way of doing things is not in bred.

As much as I like the Rafale, I can’t help but think the the Croatian air force has opted to buy a pneumatic drill to open a nut. In fact, by going from 8 elderly second generation Mig21’s to the fourth generation Rafale the CAF has effectively skipped a generation and the learning curve will be massive. Why the CAF dismissed the single engine Saab Gripen or F15 block 70/72 is open to debate. Croatia did of course select ex Israli  F16 ‘s in 2017, when the Gripen appeared to be the front runner only to see the US government stop the deal.

The fighter procument lark is full of twists and turns, but this time it looks like the CAF has at least found a solution.

 

Edited by TrustMe
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Back in 2005, the French military (which flies more than  150) was allegedly paying 56,000  Euros, but according to my sources it’s now closer to 35,000 Euros. But I guess the definition of operational hour is open to debate.

The article seems to imply that the cost has gone down because of increased sales, which could be the case. But France has also signed a new maintenance contract named "Ravel Vertical Contract", which simplifies maintenance and establish availability goals.

https://www.journal-aviation.com/en/news/43378-ravel-reconfigures-the-french-rafale-operational-condition-maintenance-ocm

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