15 July 2012

The Next Gen Gripen Looks to Be a World Beater

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This is a lot cheaper
Saab put out a very impressive briefing on the next generation of Gripen at Farnborough, where the headline was much lower direct operating costs:
Third (and most important) is that all air forces are finally realizing that operating costs are more important than acquisition costs. The debate over JSF costs - from the Navair leaks of 2010, through program director VAdm Dave Venlet's "it makes their knees go weak" quote in April 2011 to Lockheed Martin's recent assaults on the competence of Pentagon accountants - revolves around operating costs, and that is a fight that Gripen wins.

Saab says that the E/F will cost under $5,000 per flight hour - one-third to one-quarter of its estimates for Eurofighter, Rafale or JSF (Saab uses Australian numbers for the latter, which are lower than some).
These numbers are not just pie in the sky. The Gripen has been in service for over a decade, as has its engine, and it's half the size of its competitors, and you pay for aircraft like you pay for ground beef, by the pound.  (And yes, the numbers for the JSF are unsupportable)

However, what I found most interesting was the fact that they touted the advantages of non-integrated avionics, (page 33) explaining how you can move more quickly if your tactical avionics are separate from flight critical systems, which also allows greater access by the operating nations who might want to make their own upgrades and weapons.

This is a direct challenge to the tightly integrated, and inaccessible avionics package in the JSF.

PDF after the break. (H/T Eric Palmer for the embed.)


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