Thai Gripen and RMAF Flankers

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Thais (see the story below) has announced its attention to buy 12 Saab Gripens for US$1 billion earlier this week.

If the deal goes through (depending on Thai politics with an election coming in December and whether or not the US would allow the deal to go through, the engine is a US-design engine) one has to wonder whether the Thai Air Force would look for another EW suite.

Every one knows that RMAF Sukhois are fitted with the same EW suite as the export version of the Gripens. Will RTAF spent extra money to integrate a new EW on its Gripens or would they risk the chance that their fighters would mistake our Flankers as a friendly? Perhaps they will consider fixing an Israeli made EW suite, probably cursing Malaysia at the same time for procuring the Gripen EW suite for the Flankers.

Furthermore, would the fickle minded Europeans allowed the Thais to get the full weapons suite from the IRIS WVR to the Meteor BVR, the RBS15 anti-ship missile and the Taurus cruise missile?

I do not want to be in the shoes of an RTAF Air Marshall when the Europeans came a calling with a to-do lists before giving the green light for the Gripens.

Personally, the Gripen was my first choice when the RMAF was looking for a new fighter for its fleet, surpassing even the Fuclrum, Hornets and the Flanker. I was informed previously that the Gripen was a possible candidate but it never passed the first round.

Reasons? It was not a very attractive aircraft when it comes to offsets and such. Too little number in service and with Swedish small industrial base (when I say small, its relative of course) it was not in OUR NATIONAL INTEREST to purchase it.

Moreover it was too expensive for our limited budget. The Thais only got 12 for USD1 billion.

We got 18 Flankers for some USD900 million together with a man in space. Who could ask for more? At least another Flanker of course but dont tell that to Dr Syeikh Muszaffar.

Malaysian Defence

Thais to buy 12 Gripens for USD1 billion

BANGKOK (AFP) :: Thailand will purchase 12 Swedish-made jet fighters over the next decade for 34.4 billion baht ($1 billion), the head of the air force said Oct. 17.
The first lot of six JAS-39 Gripen fighters will be bought by 2011, with a second lot of six jets purchased by 2017, air force chief Chalit Phukphasuk told reporters.
The Gripens, manufactured by Sweden’s Saab, will replace aging American F-5E fighters, which will be rotated out of service in 2011, he added.
“It is necessary to purchase the new jet fighters to replace the retiring fighters, to boost the air force’s ability to protect the country,” he said.
Thailand had considered U.S.-made F-16s and Russian SU-30s before settling on the Swedish jets, Chalit said.
The deal includes spare parts and training for Thai pilots, with the first order valued at 19 billion baht, and the second half at 15.4 billion baht, he said.
In addition to heading the air force, Chalit has also taken over the leadership of the junta that seized power in a bloodless coup toppling prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006.
The coup leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, retired last month and has joined the government as a deputy prime minister.
Since the takeover, military spending has skyrocketed to 140 billion baht in the budget for 2008, up from 29 billion baht the year before the coup.
The jet purchase had been in the works under Thaksin’s government but was repeatedly held up by budget constraints. Thaksin had tried to work a deal to barter chickens or rice for the planes, but to no avail.
Now the military is on a shopping spree, ordering 96 Ukrainian armored vehicles for $133 million in August and looking at weapons from Israel.
The military has justified the burst of spending by arguing that Thai forces have been using equipment that dates to the Vietnam War, and that defense spending has been on hold since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

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10 Comments

  1. RMAF tend to gravitate towards twin engine jets. I wonder why ?

    By the way, a few months back the Air Force Chief mentioned that the RMAF is looking forward to purchase Super Hornet which will probably take place by/after 2010.

    My question is, why the fixation over Super Hornet ? It is overpriced and despite claims of having a low radar cross section and being a bomb truck the Australian defence analyst, Dr Carlo Kopp, has criticised the Australian Government’s decision to purchase the Super Hornet contending that it wouldn’t do much to counter the growing Flanker fleet in Asia. And as usual, any purchase by us of American weapons would mean somewhat lesser in terms of what would be offered and in the inventory of RSAF. In your posting on RMAF Orbat, you suggested an increase number of Flankers which makes more sense than say … a combo of F/A18F and SU-30MKM.

    I am quite surprise that your personal choice is Gripen over Flanker. I would have thought that Flanker has better payload, better operating range, TVC, future upgrades. Overall, it has a better all round capability and better future than Gripen. Gripen’s main sales pitch has always been its low cost of operation. I would have thought that if a single engine fighter is chosen, a Rafale, though much expensive, is a better bet in protecting our airspace. Someone speculated abt Spectra in Rafale being incorporated in our Flanker, any truth in it ?

  2. Like the US Navy, our jets need to fly over water most of the time, so they feel the need to have two engines for confidence. A USAF report, I read in the 80s, however, suggests no correlation between aircraft survival and the number of power plants. One must not read into this too much however as it was commissioned as budget constraints forced USAF to choose between twin-engine F-15s and single engine F-16s. One thing for sure a single engine jet will have a lower operating cost.

    I chose the Gripen for its promised of lower operating costs (although it need to be confirm in a real world of course) it was designed to be supported by conscripts of course and the export version had CFTs and air-fto-air probes o increase its range. With the CFTs, the Gripen I believed the same endurance as the Hornets.

    Not the Spectra but the Saab Avitronics EW DAS suite, designed for the South African Gripens, pretty much standard for export versions.

    Anyway, SAAB is looking into putting the Gripen for local manufacture in India if the plane is chosen for the Indian Air Force MRCA programme.

  3. 2 power plants is a necessity for the aircraft survival. Compare the US air force F-16 single engine and US Navy F-18 twin engine. My experience as marine enforcer require twin engine vessel, redundancy and survivalability.

    For the Russian aircraft, more robust and simplicity compare to western fighter. Dont underestimate their capability in electronic and avionic.

  4. as mentioned in my comment a study by USAF in th 90s had shown no correlation for survival between AC with single or twin engines. I have never underestimate Russian electronics.

  5. I don’t rate Russian electronics highly. Which is why I sighed with relief that the jets are fitted with western avionics.

    Imagine if our Govt opt for A-50 Beriev (without PHALCON) instead of E2/E3/Saab Erieye ? That would be a nightmare.

    Most fighters these days are twin engine, with increase payload, a bigger thrust seems a neccessity …….. I suppose.

  6. Don’t compare Gripen with Su-30MKM. It’s like comparing middleweight fighter with heavyweight fighter. Gripen thrives because it is an integrated system. It is a network centric assets. That’s why the Thai’s is also buying 2 Eriye systems. Gripen may also have the ground radar information shared with it.

    Whereas the Su-30MKM is not fully network centric. Yes it has JTIDS to share info between the Sukhois, but to share radar and info between ground based radar and RMN ship is yet to be seen. If the system do exist it may be a national secret not to be revealed to the press. But our Sukhoi EW and ECCM suites is second to none. That we should be proud of. It may well be equal or surpassed only by Israeli F-16I Block 52++. The reason? because the RMAF really want to make the aircraft fully multirole. Air dominance, counter-air, air-interdiction, interceptor (previously held by MiG 29) – no problem!; Ground strike, naval strike (held by Hawk 200 and F/A 18D) – no problem!. Night or adversed weather strike (held by F/A 18D)- no problem!. Deep strike into enemy territory (held by F/A 18D) – No problem!. Furthermore it even have buddy refueling the capability which RMAF did not have prior to its introduction.

    So why the emphasis on comprehensive EW/ECCM suites? To ensure that the aircraft be able to perform it’s deep-strike-into-enemy territory mission. That’s why Israeli F-16I Block 52++ have the comprehensive EW/ECCM suites. In short Su-30MKM is truly multirole. And what is remarkable, Su 30MKM can perform all those mission simultaneously (except buddy refuelling off course) by have a correct mixture of missiles/bombs.

    As for Gripen can it perform, air dominance, counter-air, air interceptor, land and sea strike and deep strike simultaneously? I doubt so because of poor thrust to weight ratio by having all those ammunition carry onboard, the limited weapon pylons and limited fuel capacity. Like I said earlier it’s like comparing middleweight fighter with heavyweight fighter!!.

    As for having RTAF Gripen having the same EW/ECCM suites with RMAF Sukhoi, don’t worry. The suites maybe the same but both airforce will ensure that the algorithm punched into it is different.

  7. Malaysia should look to acquire a mixed bag of MIG-35 and more SU-30, possibly, some single seaters for air superiority mission. When one is focused on fighting air combat, one becomes and expert, instead of being a jack of all trades! For MIG-35, the could be used as air defence, offensive fighters on small to medium conflicts as well as combat air patrol. These are also reliable fighters, well updated with latest missiles and avionics and since Malaysia is using MIG-29, maintenance shouldn’t be any issues at all then.

  8. Waa Mr MMW you must know MKM a lot, Rohde & Shwarz sudah jadi JTIDS, itu sudah banyak advance cuma Rohde & Schwarz boleh cakap sama dia, itu kita punya F/A 18D Rohde & Schwarz dia tak boleh cakap.

    EW & ECCM wah banyak advance, sudah cuba ke kat M’sia, verify dia punya performance, lampu nyala tapi ada kerjake. When you think you already have the best equipment, somebody will design a better equipment and technique to overcome you. Never put down and underestimate the Israeli’s.

    Takat Flight Refuelling Cobham you sudah tahuke dia punya fuel flow rate. Takat dua kapal terbang buat fuel transfer sampai habis minyak pun belum tentu boleh isi.

    You compare sortie to sortie in combat between the Su 30 MKM and the F/A 18D you will see that the F/A 18D reliability and maintainability will definitely surpass the Su 30 MKM. Percayalah barang Russian cepat rosak. Low MTBF. Turnaround time bagi F/A 18D item 9 bulan, Russian 36 bulan belum tentu lagi.

    As for the Gripen it is how you employ the weapon. In a long run it is more economical to have Gripen. You don’t fight Su 30 MK directly dgn Gripen you employ tactical and numbers against them. With network centric the on-scene commander have the best overall scenario, assets, and how to negate threats with available weapons. So kalau Thai ada 6 aje Gripen nak take out 3 Su 30 MK banyak susahla…..

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