features Why Saab’s Gripen E could make perfect sense for Canada

We paid a visit to Swedish OEM, Saab, to learn if its Gripen E offering to replace Canada's aging CF-188 Hornets has the requisite muscle to give the other entrants a run for their money.
Avatar for Jamie Hunter By Jamie Hunter | January 12, 2021

Estimated reading time 14 minutes, 8 seconds.

“Gripen E meets and/or exceeds all of the Canadian requirements. It’s an efficient, modern fighter, and it’s the latest development on the market.” So says Anders Håkansson, Saab’s deputy campaign director for the company’s participation in Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).

Canada’s protracted search for a new fighter aircraft to replace its aging McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornets has narrowed to a field of two competitors. U.S. manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin is offering the F-35A Lightning II, with Sweden’s Saab offering its latest incarnation of Gripen — the single-seat E variant.

Gripen E 6002 shows off the agility and performance of the fighter. Jamie Hunter Photo

While Saab is often cited as an excellent model for cost-effectiveness — company marketing literature refers to Gripen E as “the smart fighter” — actual capability is sometimes overlooked. So, does Gripen E have the requisite muscle to give the U.S. heavyweights a run for their money in this important campaign?

The Canadian Requirement

The complex saga of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) CF-188 recapitalization project includes Canada becoming a partner in the multinational F-35 program back in 1997. This enabled Canadian industry to gain a foothold in the global supply chain for the stealthy fighter, and Canada ultimately planned to purchase 65 F-35As. But the then-Prime Ministerial candidate Justin Trudeau pledged to overturn the F-35 deal — forcing a competition rather than a straight, non-competed acquisition of Lightning IIs.

Fast-forward to July 31, 2020, and formal responses to a request for proposal were submitted to Ottawa by the three remaining interested parties in the FFCP. The Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale had already withdrawn from the race, making this a three-way chase for the prized contract.

The $11 to $15 billion FFCP calls for 88 fighters to be procured through an open competition, with the aircraft required to enter service from 2025 and be sustained to around 2060. Canada will select a winner by late 2021 using a formula that assigns 20 per cent to industrial offsets, 20 per cent to cost, and the remaining 60 per cent to overall capability.

As the sole non-U.S. candidate, Sweden’s Saab appears to be an outsider — maybe even a stalking horse. However, Saab is heavily committed to Canada with a strong, but understated, offering that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Gripen E pilots can wear the Elbit Systems Targo helmet mounted display. Note the wide area display in the cockpit. Jamie Hunter Photo

While Gripen E’s moniker aligns it with the lineage and ethos of its Gripen A-D predecessors as capable but “affordable” fighters, the E is a very different beast in many ways. With seven aircraft now in various stages of flight-testing, one aircraft now at its Brazilian test centre, and initial deliveries to the Swedish Air Force planned for 2023, Gripen E’s program is gaining momentum.

Gripen E is a subtly beefed-up variant of the original Gripen in terms of airframe, but under the surface it couldn’t be more different. With 10 external hardpoints, Gripen E can carry up to seven MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles — a weapon that has been eyed enviously by the U.S. in comparison to its AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

Combined with the Leonardo ES-05 Raven radar, it gives Gripen E impressive detection and engagement ranges. On top of the nose sits a Leonardo Skyward G infrared search and track (IRST) sensor for passive tracking and targeting.

The cockpit features an 18-by-nine-inch-wide area touch screen display, and the pilot operates in an immersed world of fused data that is constantly updated via a fighter-to-fighter data link — as well as connectivity to other agencies via Link 16. Sweden has been working in this connected world for decades, reaching way back into the era of Saab’s Viggen fighter.

Meeting the Canadian Requirement

According to Håkansson, Saab’s assessment is that Gripen and its offer to Canada meets and/or exceeds all of the stated requirements, including meeting Canada’s obligations under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) mission of providing air defence for Canada and the U.S. Though program officials cannot reveal the exact parameters, which remain classified.

The geographic scale of Canada must mean that range and endurance are two significant factors. With a 40 per cent growth in internal fuel capacity, Saab has clearly set out to address any perceived shortcomings of the earlier Gripens.

The Gripen E flies near the east coast of Sweden during a test mission. The aircraft wears a striking three-tone splinter camouflage scheme. Jamie Hunter Photo

“Part of the reason we developed Gripen E was with range and endurance in mind — plus the more powerful F414 engine and other modifications,” said Håkansson.

One of the aces up Gripen E’s sleeve is its electronic warfare system. It’s completely new and provides what Saab refers to as a “digital shield.”

“The idea was not to build a geometrically stealth aircraft that would be obsolete long before the life expectancy of the fighter, due to continuously and exponentially growing new technologies that target geometrically stealth aircraft,” explained Håkansson. “We added an EW system that solves the issue electronically, and that will continue to develop exponentially because no one knows what threats are evolving.”

The embedded system combines active and passive systems to help protect the aircraft, which is cleverly combined with a 360-degree spherical missile approach warning system. “We have an airframe that is stressed for 8,000 hours . . . and Gripen E has the most advanced sensor fusion,” he said. “You can put the aircraft into an automatic mode and it suggests almost everything to the pilot so they can concentrate on the big picture, as well as the details.”

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

“The jewel in the crown is our avionics system — and that you cannot debate. No one else has that,” declared Håkansson.

Saab’s Johan Segertoft led a team that masterminded Gripen E’s revolutionary agile avionics architecture, which is attracting huge interest from other aerospace manufacturers. Saab set out to build a system that acknowledged computer technology is advancing like never before, with a mindset of embracing exponential growth in software code.

Here, the Leonardo Skyward-G infrared search and track sensor performs a mission systems test with Gripen E serial 39-9. Jamie Hunter Photo

“Gripen E is the vessel that will bring you to the fight,” explained Segertoft. “The computer power is what will win and take the pilot home.”

He asserted Gripen E’s avionics design is truly unique, already realizing the type of agile performance desired by U.S. manufacturers. Saab’s approach has been explained as being akin to applications on a smartphone, where the operator tailors applications to their own preferences and without regard to hardware considerations that otherwise would slow the implementation. This means customers can design and develop their own software, enabling rapid introduction of new technologies and systems to deal with ever-evolving threats.

Explaining traditional avionics architecture, Segertoft said: “To solve an upgrade requirement, the operator today buys a new piece of equipment, such as a new radar, bolts it onto the aircraft and puts a new screen in the cockpit.”

To further explain this approach to upgrades, he used the analogy of buying an iPhone, but to get a new application on it you have to send it back to Apple and wait for three to five years to get it back! However, that is the legacy approach to complex integration issues in a highly regulated world. Safety in the aeronautical industry drives enormous cost.

While most modern avionics systems separate safety-critical elements from the tactical side, Gripen E has harnessed the ability to take both and run them seamlessly as onboard computers are upgraded. This allows Gripen E to immediately benefit from the exponential increase in computing capacity.

Saab said between the first flight of the prototype Gripen E (serial 39-8) on June 15, 2017, and the first flight of the second aircraft (39-9) on Nov. 26, 2018, all of the onboard computers were changed to upgraded systems providing more computer power.

The Saab aeronautics test team is working at pace as the Gripen E program develops. Jamie Hunter Photo

“Changing computers like this is typically calculated in years — we measure it in days,” explained Segertoft. “We changed hundreds of software components — 40 per cent of which were certified to the highest level — all without compromising airworthiness. Our vision has always been coding in the morning and flying it in the afternoon, and we are very pleased with where we are.”

This philosophy makes it easy to add, delete, and modify coding, or to include third-party or partner involvement. Brazil, the first export customer for Gripen E, is already developing software and feeding it back into the main development program in Sweden.

Patrick Palmer, Saab’s executive vice-president of marketing and sales in Canada, said: “The avionics are a unique feature that we have created through years of engineering work. We are now offering Canada the sovereign capability . . . to sustain, upgrade, and enhance through the whole life of the fighter.

“This is not just about aircraft performance; you also have to be able to upgrade the aircraft under specific rules and regulations. We have designed the weapons suite [offered in FFCP] to meet Canadian requirements, but there are many options we can offer in future — any weapon on the market — and our avionics make it really easy to integrate them.”

Capable and Affordable?

Not only does Gripen E offer impressive features, but Saab also said the aircraft has the lowest associated maintenance costs. “It has been designed into the aircraft from day one, it was a driving factor,” said Håkansson.

With reheat engaged, Gripen E serial 6002 accelerates away towards a target. Jamie Hunter Photo

The aircraft is designed to be serviced and turned around by a small team, even in austere locations. Referring to operations in Arctic conditions, Håkansson said Gripen was “born in the snow.”

Saab has a proven track record when it comes to local industry participation and offset agreements. It has formed a Canadian industrial team combining IMP Aerospace and Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation. “To build, sustain, and upgrade in Canada is something we have solved through our avionics system and with Canadian employees,” said Håkansson. “The focus of our business is that we will bring a lot of new business through high value Canadian jobs that will further Canada in its knowledge.”

Clark Bain, senior VP of strategic development at IMP, said: “The relationship we have with Saab… they are very open to transferring genuine knowledge. For IMP, not only are we going to build Gripen in Canada, we’re also going to get the benefit of all that technology and knowledge transfer.

“This is going to be the first time in generations a fighter will have been built in Canada. Saab has a network of partners and suppliers across the country, so certain parts will be manufactured within the country, and then we will assemble the aircraft, support the integration activity, and initial flight trials. In terms of final assembly and integration tests, that’s all happening in Canada.”

The Saab Gripen E serial 6002 is the first series production aircraft for Sweden, and it made its maiden flight in December 2019. Jamie Hunter Photo

IMP will absorb this knowledge so it can manufacture and support the aircraft through their life. IMP already has a close and longstanding relationship with the RCAF, and it expects to continue this theme if Gripen is selected for Canada — spearheading the sustainment of the aircraft and the sovereign control in Canada.

“When this competition first came about, we looked at which teams we may want to join,” said Bain. “It was pretty clear to us that easily the best value for Canada was going to be Gripen, and now COVID-19 means affordability is even more important.”

While Saab cannot to go into detail, its existing relationship with Brazil as the first export customer for Gripen E is a good indicator of what it has offered to Canada. Brazil has genuine, close involvement and is spearheading development and manufacturing of the two-seat Gripen F.

For Canada, the evaluation process for its new fighter is expected to continue into 2021, with an award sometime in 2022 — in time for deliveries from 2025. Despite Canada’s obvious political pressure to buy an F-series fighter from its neighbour, Gripen offers a compelling case to meet the country’s needs and boost industrial know-how.

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  1. Love it..Watched many video’s.Love the fast turn around times.Hard smaller shelters in more locations are a plus.And cold weather ability is top notch!Go get em.

    1. All three have better range endurance than the CCF18. I gave an example below, the CCF18 can only enter this 2 hour CAP if it carries a full range of bags, ie three. And it’s then the first of the four to RTB (Return To Base).

      1. From what I read, the (ferry) ranges of the CF-18 and the F/A-18E are both 3,330km while the F-35A is only 2,800km (I don’t know if tanks are involved). Only the JAS-39E at 4,000km exceeds the range of the CF-18. It’s also the only one that exceeds the top speed of the CF-18 because the F-35A and F/A-18E both have top speeds of Mach 1.6 while the JAS-39E has a top speed of Mach 2.0. Plus, not only can the JAS-39E supercruise, but can supercruise with an A2A weapons load. None of the others can supercruise even in clean configuration. That’s a pretty big deal for a country the size of Canada because we have a crap-tonne of airspace to cover. Out of the three, the Gripen is also designed to be an aerospace defence fighter while the others are primarily designed for A2G/A2S strike roles.

        The primary mission of the RCAF is the defence of Canadian airspace which is referred to as “Defensive Counter-Air”, something that the JAS-39E excels at. The F/A-18E excels at anti-ship/coastal assault while the F-35A excels at covert first-strike operations, neither of which are the primary mission of the RCAF. The most difficult task of any military aircraft is A2A combat. Hitting a static ground target or slow-moving ship are child’s play in comparison. The proof of this is the fact that planes like the A-10 and AMX are extremely effective attack aircraft but would be utterly useless against a Flanker or Fulcrum. Meanwhile, the JAS-39E can load up with Meteor and IRIS-T missiles and take on Flankers and Fulcrums but can just as easily load up with RBS.15 and AGM-65 missiles to decimate sea and/or ground targets.

        The German people are known for being very smart and not falling for hype or caving to political pressure. As soon as the commanders of the Luftwaffe saw the the state of things for the F-35A and considered the rather modest capabilities of the plane even when (if) everything gets ironed out, they didn’t hesitate to give it a hard pass. They’ve been looking at the F/A-18E/F to replace their Tornado IDS aircraft but have no interest in using them as fighters because they know darn well that the A2A combat capabilities of the F-35A and F/A-18E/F are mediocre at best when compared to a Eurocanard.

        It’s a far better (and easier) thing to have a plane that is a great fighter dropping bombs than a plane that is great at dropping bombs trying to fight.

        1. Actually, the commander of the Luftwaffe publicly expressed his service’s preference for the F-35A as the successor to Tornado in the nuclear strike role. He lost his job as a result – not because of the Merkel gov’t’s non-confidence in the -35’s capabilities as a penetrator aircraft inter-operable with other NATO air forces, but because it wanted no sticking points in its future collaboration with France on a 6th-gen fighter programme.

        2. I think that your understanding is a bit off. When you add tanks to any plane you make it draggy. They don’t perform well. The top speed of the F-35 is indeed “only” 1.6 Mach, but when you add tanks and other things like targetting pods to a fourth-generation plane you reduce their top speed. With a real-life scenario weapons load the top speed of the JAS-39E is going to be more like 1.2 Mach. Because the F-35 carries internally it is still Mach 1.6. The abiltiy to carry both fuel and weapons internally is a massive advantage for fifth-generation planes. You also only get stated ranges with the Gripen with external fuel tanks, something you would likely have to jettison if a fight was going to have to take place. With a real wepaons load fifth-generation planes have an advantage. If my car is faster than yours, but we re-race and the second time I have a canoe strapped to the roof, I am unlikely to win the second time. That is the case with fifth-generation planes. The F-35 can take a huge internal fuel load and weapons are carried internally. In addition, the sensors are also built into the frame. In fourth-generation planes a likely weapons load is a couple of fuel tanks, a targetting pod and a half dozen missiles. Which plane do you think has a higher performance? Fourth-generation planes are marketted with clean configuration performance numbers. This does not equate to combat effectiveness. In other words, it isn’t reality. With a real combat load the F-35 is impressive. It is impressive because it was baked into the design from the onset. Carrying everything internally is a massive advantage. Countries acquiring planes understand this (or should). That is why the list of countries buying the F-35 is growing rapidly. In the end, the Gripen is an excellent plane, but is simply a half-generation behind. And that will be reflected in its’ sales. It makes sense for many countries, but Canada faces the very real possibility of facing Russia. With aged F-18 they aren’t anything but a small speed bump. Stealth is also an advantage in dogfights. Mostly because dogfights really means who sees who first. If the Gripen were to face the F-35 it would likely be seen first and fired upon first. That is the advantage of stealth. The idea that they are ging to get into a turning fight is a little antiquated. If you get into a turning fight with a fourth-generation plane, then you have misused your fifth-generation plane.

          In addition, Germany’s Luftwaffe wanted the F-35, believed it was the best plane for the job. Politicians decided against it. That, therefore, says very little about the abilities of the plane itself and rather means they wanted to keep technological abilities when it comes to aerospace production domestically.

          You need to also read about simulations that were run where the Russian Air Force flies over Canada. When simulated using fourth-Gneration Air planes the Canadian Air Force put up little resistance. If a detterent to Russia is what you want the F-35 is superior and did much better in simulations.

        3. Gripen can only travel at mach 2.0 weaponless, if you add weapons it is 1.1 mach. While F-35 maintain 1.6 mach with 10 missiles.

  2. Meets Canada’s requirements but only one at a time.

    Load it up so it has enough range to perform an intercept and it is firmly subsonic and loses much of its manoeuvrability.

    Load only two or four missiles so it retains most of its performance and it has the range of a model aeroplane.

    The F-35 does not suffer from any of these issues and is cheaper to buy. You also don’t need to spend additional millions on external sensor pods.

    This jet is the cheap, low performance option that is not suited to the RCAF.

      1. So you don’t understand what I said at all?

        If the Gripen has three tanks loaded to have enough range for an intercept in Canada’s North it is not fast enough to do the job. Even a Bear can just turn away and ruin the Gripen’s intercept. It cannot do the same to the F-35. Not only does the F-35 retain full 1.6 Mach capability in air to air configuration, the Bear or Blackjack will not detect it until they look out the window. They will be aware of the Gripen from many hundreds of miles out.

        1. Hold up!!! F-35 max speed is 1.3 mach, it doesn’t supercruise because a design flaw, therefore overheats. F-35 can’t hit mach 1 without Afterburners. Plus if you read the US reports on F-35 there are a host of problems. The Congress allocated $2 Billion to find a new engine. I think the F-35 is a ferrari that can be driven on Sundays, but is too expensive and not suitable for Everyday usage. That is the same sentiment as the head of the USAF

          1. The F-35’s top speed is 1.6. It was limited to less because in a couple of planes it led to problems. But they found this by pushing the plane to its’ absolute limits. This does not mean that it cannot hit its’ top speed. It means that it does not make sense to do so in times of peace. By limiting the amount of time that it spends near its’ top speed they are extending the air frames hours. In other words, it is a financially prudent move. That is all. In wartime it won’t make one bit of difference if they push these planes.

            It also can supercruise, for short runs of 150 miles.

            Too expensive, but 40$ million dollars less than a Eurofighter? Why are countries studying it finding that it is the most cost-effective route? Besides, Denmark found that 28 F-35’s could do the same work as 35 Eurofighters. So you have to buy less of them.

    1. The F-35 is considerably more expensive to buy last I heard. It is also more expensive to fly, and more expensive to maintain. It is also less adaptable to new and evolving technologies. The Gripen, while not as fast and trailing slightly in the long range engagement category, is a better short range fighter and is easily as good at air to ground engagements. It’ll take another decade before a government finally pulls the trigger on our next gen fighters anyway, but right now I’d rather we bought something with some future to it.

      1. The Gripen E is a superior BVR fighter (Beyond Visual Range), this is mainly due to combining with the F-variant (Electronic Warfare) and the 160km range Meteor missle. The F-35 nor do the USAF have any Air-to-Air missiles that can reach that range today. Though they might soon because America.
        Either way it’s a stupid argument and a major flaw in Canada’s future fighter project, RCAF needs both planes.
        1 – A Superior 5th Gen Platform that has Stealth (Good for interdiction missions or when stealth is the priority)
        a.) EST $35K per Flight Hour and a pilot should be flying about 100 + hours/year (USAF pilots average about 200 hours/year) at a bare minimum to be comfortable with the airframe.
        = 3.5 Million Per Year / Per Plane
        So if all 88 Plans were F-35s thats 308 Million Per Year.
        2- A 4.xx cheap to fly workhorse, in this category I prefer the Gripen E/F offering. Let’s not forget how well these things did Red Flag.
        a.) EST $5K per Flight Hour that’s 44 Million Per Year
        = .5 million (yes that’s half a million) Per Year / Per Plane
        These numbers obviously get more out of whack the more you fly the two platforms.

        Regardless of the cost of the F-35 though, it’s still a valuable asset to have and one the RCAF should possess. The main point is using an F-35 to strike a toyota land cruiser in the middle of desert is a lot like buying a $20,000 computer to check your email.

        1. I’m afraid that you’re confused. The F-variant is NOT specialised for electronic warfare, the F-variant is just a two-seat version of the E-variant that has a back seat instead of a gun.

        2. I’ve been reading and Examining every ones point of view The one thing that everyone forgets is the Government that is picking this plane is Liberal .First of all Trudeau Doesn’t want the F35 Because Stephen Harper Chose it and Trudeau Gets Diarrheas’ at the mention of Harpers Name Look What Trudeau did over the Building of the ASTERIX a great ship built fast on budget and surpasses all performance .But will never be included in the RCN because of Harper .Same holds true for Boeing Because of a Dispute with Bombardier Trudeau got a Hate on for Boeing The main reason the Liberals will chose the Gripen is because of Jobs .Everything the Liberals have ever Purchased in Defense is about Jobs not about what is the best for the Military and what about those 50 year old Tutors the Snow Birds fly They still have the old fashion Ejection Seats I don’t believe the Liberals in anything and by the time Trudeau removes his head from his a** it won’t matter too much time is going by

      2. The F-35 is more expensive, but it is more capable. There is very little that a fourth-generation plane is going to be better at than a fifth-generation plane. The Gripen (as good as it is) is still a generation behind. It is no where near as good at air-to-ground engagements. The movement to fifth-generation planes came about because when the US did simulations against near-peer adversaries like Russia they were losing all their planes to A2A missiles. The Gripen would not likely survive such an engagement. It is also not a better short-range fighter. All engagements come down to who sees who first. That would be the F-35 most likely seeing the Gripen first. That is the nature of modern dogfights. If you get into a turning battle with your stealth airplane it means that you are using your stealth advantage badly.

    2. Where did you get this info? I doubt its true. You don’t need to carry more then a couple of missiles for an intercept, just a lot of fuel. F-35 is not even supposed to be flown supersonic for extended periods as it damages the stealth coating. 2 Metor missiles will not cause huge drag.

      1. Hey Mark, what type of intercept are you talking about? You know “intercepts” are not the only thing Fighters do, right… What about BVR fights? What about visual arena? What about A/G roles?

        1. JAS-39 is built for BVR just as F-35 so not a big difference there except that the Gripen comes with meteor missiles and can carry 7 at once but it can carry 7 AIM-120 as well if that’s their preferred choice.
          For Air-to-Ground Gripen E can carry 16 GBU-39 at once.
          Gripen can carry a mix of Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground if needed and it can switch roles while in the air.
          I can’t see any problems when it comes to those questions you asked.

      2. Recent intercepts over the Norwegian and Black Seas often feature a/c from Allied nations and Russia sporting large missile loads. One reason for this is a marked improvement in EW systems aboard today’s fighters. As a result, analysts suggest that future A2A engagements are more likely to require ‘salvo’ fires of more than one missile in order to increase the probability of kill (PoK) on a single target. Ergo, a higher weapons load (internal and/or external) is a virtue.

    3. David, your knowledge of the subject is below par. All three candidates can go supersonic with the fuel for a long-range intercept. The slowest is the Super Hornet as it’s a carrier aircraft and has, accordingly, a draggy airframe. The F-35 is the slowest when all fly clean or lightly loaded with missiles (bad fineness ratio which is what counts for wave drag), but as it carries fuel and stores internally it reverses as the three load up. But they are all supersonic capable in long-range Air to Air missions. The Gripen and Super Hornet have the advantage they drop their bags (fighter speak for extra fuel tanks) it threatened and then regain full agility. The F-35 is as is, the least agile in this situation (it got its stealth though that helps for BVR, not WVR). The range of the three is comparable when the SH has two 480 gallon bags, the Gripen one 450 gallon and the F-35 is on internal fuel. Endurance is then about 2 hours for all in a typical CAP. When it comes to cost you shoot yourself in the foot if you look at purchase price, it’s the 40-year life-cycle cost that counts. System wise (the critical avionics system agility to follow the threat evolution), the Gripen is the most advanced (the only partitioned architecture), the Hornet and the F-35 share classical = cumbersome to update, architectures. This is the main reason for the slow development of the F-35 capability, it’s software architecture is 20 years old. it requires enormous efforts in verficaton testing for all upates.

      1. Cool, Olof. I can quote numbers from wikipedia as well. Just curious, why do you think 5th gen/6th gen fighters emphasize stealth and the BVR capabilities so much?

        1. The fact that you take the term “5th-gen” so seriously doesn’t speak well of your knowledgeability. Those generations are used so that laypeople have an easier time wrapping their heads around such a complex topic. Are you aware that the original definition of “5th-gen”, as given by Lockheed-Martin when they introduced the F-22 included supercruise capability? The fact that they conveniently forgot that when the F-35 was made shows just how meaningless the term “5th gen” actually is.

          1. The F-35 can supercruise, even though that factor is largely irrelevant in considering what generation a fighter is.

        2. No he can’t be cause the facts are not on his side. The Gripen-E IS NOT supersonic with three tanks.

          “The F-35 is the slowest when all fly clean or lightly loaded with missiles (bad fineness ratio which is what counts for wave drag), but as it carries fuel and stores internally it reverses as the three load up.”

          This comment really gives the game away. “When clean.” When the Gripen is clean it has about as much fuel as a Mini Cooper and is about as useful. You have really given yourself away as not having a clue what you are talking about.

    4. The F-35 is only stealthy with 4 missiles it may be comparable to buy but it cost $44000 an hour to fly at 8000 hours thats $ 352,000,000 instead the gripen $40.000.000

      1. $25000 USD per hour to fly for the F-35A and dropping. Within this calander year the jet will hold six AIM-120Ds internally. The Gripen-E costs $27000 per hour to fly and doesn’t have half the capability the F-35 does.

    5. False! Gripen E can supercruise at M1.2 with 6 missiles and center tank. F-35 can’t supercruise at all. Gripen E have superiour agility compared to F-35. The fly-away price is about the same. The operational cost is more than 5 times higher for F-35 ant it’s more than 70% of the total cost. The availability is more than 15 times higher for Gripe E, which now can be delivered with GaN front AESA with 200 degrees field of view that complement the GaN EW with 360 degrees of view. The EW suite make every Gripen E an electronic attack airplane. Everything is inside, except recce pod and pod for enhanced electronic attack.

    6. The F-35 Stealth can only carry 4 missiles is limited to Mach 1.3 is limited in manoeuvrability due to loosing control ALIS does not work 60% of F-35 are Grounded block 4
      software disables radar most F-35 Delivered may not get necessary Upgrades as its to expensive at $44.000 an hour to fly you could give it for free and the Gripen would still be cheaper

    7. Wrong Gripen E can be fully loaded without loses any maneuverability. You will actually feel any different load or not.
      Then range is better than F35

    8. Ok so… you post is 100% false.
      “Load it up so it has enough range to perform an intercept and it is firmly subsonic and loses much of its manoeuvrability.”
      “Load only two or four missiles so it retains most of its performance and it has the range of a model aeroplane.”

      These are both 100% false because the JAS-39E can SUPERCRUISE with an A2A weapons load. If it was encumbered that much by an A2A weapons package, it wouldn’t be able to supercruise, something that the other two planes CANNOT DO, PERIOD.

      Here’s another great piece of misinformation:
      “The F-35 does not suffer from any of these issues and is cheaper to buy. You also don’t need to spend additional millions on external sensor pods.”
      Nevermind the fact that the issues you assigned to the JAS-39E are fictional, the number of issues that the F-35A suffers from could fill an encyclopedia. Also, the F-35A has NOT been demonstrated to have a lower purchase price, it’s just an uninformed assumption that you’ve made. Furthermore, anyone who actually UNDERSTANDS military aviation knows all too well that the purchase price of a plane is a minor thing compared to the lifetime costs of use. Over the life of the plane, the cost-per-flight-hour not only eclipses the purchase price, but it can often end up tripling it or more. Here’s a little table that I put together:
      (All costs are estimated but are accurate enough based on several sources that any real-life variations will be insignificant):
      F-35A -> $78,000,000 + ($36,000 x 8,000) = $366,000,000 each
      F/A-18E -> $66,000,000 + ($18,000 x 8,000) = $210,000,000 each
      JAS-39E -> $75,000,000 + ($5,000 x 8,000) = $115,000,000 each
      So the total cost of the F-35A (just the plane by itself) is about TRIPLE that of the JAS-39E. This isn’t counting the fact that we’ll need a new fleet of tanker aircraft because the F-35A uses the USA-only “spinal-tap” boom-type refuelling system instead of the NATO-standard “probe and drogue” system. Then there’s the need for special climate-controlled hangars for these hangar-queens while Gripens don’t even need hangars, having been designed to operate from tunnels and from under bridges.
      “This jet is the cheap, low performance option that is not suited to the RCAF.”
      Now you’re contradicting yourself since you had just stated that the F-35A is cheaper to buy. So, which is it? In any case, you’re wrong again because the JAS-39E out-climbs, out-turns and out-runs the F-35A all over the place. The F-35’s range is only a paltry 2,800km while the JAS-39E’s range is 4,000km. The F-35A’s top speed is a pathetic Mach 1.6, no faster than the old CF-18 (or the F/A-18E/F for that matter) which makes it tied for the SLOWEST fighter jet in the world. Pilots in the USAF refer to the F-35A as “Fat Amy” and that ISN’T a compliment. Oh yeah, and the F-35A isn’t even a real 5th-generation fighter because Lockheed-Martin had initially designated the ability to supercruise as a requirement of a 5th-generation aircraft when they unveiled the F-22 Raptor. Isn’t it funny how they seem to have forgotten about that fact now that they’re trying to push the F-35? Give me a break.

      The fact that you don’t understand any of this means that your knowledge of military aviation is sorely lacking. I’m sorry but I cannot take you the least bit seriously and I’m rather surprised that SkiesMag allowed your post to remain.

      1. i prefer the gripes to the f35. that being said, the best plane for canada would be the F15 ex considering, flight hours(20000), speed, mach 2.5, weapon load, 30000 pounds, fairy 4000km. canada is the second biggest country in the world.

      2. So to discredit the facts I have quoted you have to lie? No surprise there from the Gripen fanclub.
        F-35A $78 Million is correct but you are lying through your teeth on the operating cost. The RAAF, an air force that operates in a VERY similar fashion to the RCAF, is running at $25000 per hour and less as more aircraft are delivered and spread the base cost over further airframes.
        The JAS-39E is $85 Million each for the Swedish Air Force. For Brazil it is well over $100 million each with local production. Canada will be higher again. Also it’s operating cost is $27000 USD per hour, not $5000.

        Your claims are dishonest and laughable as is typical of a Gripen fanboy.

      3. Why can’t Canada by both the F35 and the Gripen E?
        Seems to me that the Gripens would be versatile enough to patrol all three territories. So put 10 in a each territory. Buy the F35 (30- 40) for our NATO commitments. Those commitment could be supplemented by the Gripen if need be. A mixed use Airforce addresses all of our needs.

    9. Who told you the F35 was cheaper to buy??? It also costs $45000. per flight hour to do it’s job, that can’t honestly be changed. The Gripen E is in the $7000. per flight hour and flies about 350 mph faster and has a longer range than the F35 plus STOL. The F35 is too slow to be an interceptor, which to me it’s per hour flight cost and it’s top speed is a deal killer for Canada with our huge geography, The STOL capability gives us the ability to keep fighter closer to the incursion zones so they can be in the air in minutes and rearmed in 10 minutes or so. They can take off and land on existing roads and be stored either underground or camouflaged facilities.

  3. Common sense would suggest the purchase of this airplane, from all the many different angles it could be viewed. The only impediment is politics. With the US administration’s ‘Buy American’ policy being deployed against Canadian manufacturers, we should return the favour, and have this aircraft partially built in Canada. Let’s hope the current Canadian administration makes the right choice.

    1. Actually, from what I’ve read, the final assembly of this aircraft would be 100% done in Canada, Nova Scotia to be more specific. This could economically re-vitalise the entire maritime region of Canada, something that we’ve needed for a very long time.

      1. Indeed, domestic manufacture could give a boost to NS’s economy, but the country-wide benefit would not be so pronounced, as jobs for long-term maintenance would simply be transferred from L-3 in Montreal to IMP in Halifax.

        Let’s also keep in mind that establishing an assembly facility and hiring/training a workforce comes with a dollar and temporal cost. Just look at he National Shipbuilding Program. Saab will happily transfer technology and know-how, but not for free.

        If we go the Gripen route, I would explore the feasibility of taking the first few airframes off the Swedish (single-seater) and Brazilian (two-seater) production lines while an assembly line is concurrently set up in NS. Better to facilitate the new aircraft’s entry into service and achieve IOC at the earliest possible opportunity.

  4. As we have come to realize with vaccines and ships Canada needs to be able build and support its own fighters, born in the snow, and other critical pieces. Gripen.

      1. Not really. Both are weapons that are used against an enemy that wishes to kill us. Both improve our country’s level of technology. Both are things that we shouldn’t be relying on others for, especially the unstable USA.

        Regardless of what you think of his argument (because you haven’t exactly given any kind of rebuttal), his conclusion cannot be denied.

        1. How much of the Gripen is US technology? (The engines certainly are.) And how reliable with the availability of spares be in a conflict situation? Any better than the -35? With only a few users – none of which are currently NATO allies – this may be a problem.

        2. The Gripen does not improve Canada’s technology. It is a 4th Generation jet with a large RCS, aerodynamics from a 1970s British study, very poor thrust to weight and mediocre avionics. It also consists of more American and British systems than it does Swedish. So what exactly is Canada going to get? Not much at all. I think we can all see the real reason you support the Peasant Fighter for Canada; you are just anti-American and that guides the way you think. Defence of Canada and aircrew’s lives mean nothing to you.

  5. This is the ideal weapon system for Canadian needs. If we choose anything else you can be sure that it is not a rational decision being made based on needs and capability. Period.

    1. here here…

      One of the best part of the Gripen is that it will be built in Canada.

    2. Well, politically, the PM may not have a choice. Here’s why:
      1.) Trudeau promised NOT to get the F-35 and was elected on that platform in a major victory over Harper.
      2.) Boeing did major damage to our aerospace industry and choosing the F/A-18E/F would be political suicide.
      3.) I think that Trudeau wants the JAS-39E which is why he “kicked the can down the road” last time around. That gave Saab the critical time they needed to finish the JAS-39E, time that Switzerland wasn’t willing to give.
      4.) We’ve got a HUGE budget deficit what with the pandemic and the building of the RCN’s new CSC fleet. Not only is the Gripen the least expensive option to begin with but with the jobs that will be created in Canada, the income tax that will be paid from those jobs could be considered a further reduction on the purchase price because it’s not a benefit that the government would see from any other plane.
      and most importantly….
      5.) The Liberals only have a minority government so they can’t just push whatever they want through. Both the NDP and BQ have already stipulated that they will ONLY support the JAS-39E as Canada’s choice while the Greens won’t support ANY aircraft. The Liberals wouldn’t dare align with the Conservatives because nobody would ever vote for them again.

      If I had to place a bet, Id bet on the RCAF’s next fighter being the JAS-39E.

      1. TH-You are seemingly well versed in this topic and I would hope that your conclusions are correct. I, as a concerned taxpayer am extremly concerned about the cost of the COMPLETE military budget needs. My thought is we could afford to buy and run the F35 however it would come at the detriment of the Navy, Army, Air force & coast guard imo. Never mind the replacement of the northern warning system. So we have to be mindful of the TOTAL overall expenditure required and budget for the typical 40 year lifetime of our equiptment. I’ve had 30 years of fleet maintainance background. The point of the equiptment costs occuring after the the initial purchase is not lost on me.

        1. He isn’t. He is just pushing the same old lies.

          “I’ve had 30 years of fleet maintenance background. The point of the equipment costs occurring after the the initial purchase is not lost on me.”
          The Gripen-E will have less than 200 units in total with even the Swedish Air Force being very lukewarm about it. It will in a few short years be an orphan and highly expensive fleet with an exponential increase in maintenance costs accordingly. Not so for the F-35. With your experience you can see that for yourself.

  6. The best choice for Canada, one not on the menu of course, would be the F-16XL.
    Speed, range, load out, cost, durability, maneuverability, it’s the best.

    1. Good choice. Or F16 Super Viper, or F21 (F16 variant).

      Regardless the F-16 platform is extremely potent, affordable, and 25% the maintenance costs vs F35.
      Service ceiling 65,000. Mach 2+. And available proven parts.

      The F35 tops out at Mach 1.6, how is the second largest land mass going to intercept with that? Stay as far away as possible. Gripen is OK, but F-16 is better.

      1. The problem with the F-16 is that it is already an OLD design. Remember that the plane we choose will be flying for decades to come. I’d rather take the brand-new design with the modern canard/delta configuration over the antiquated cruciform/elevator design from the cold war era. This is especially true going forward because the JAS-39E’s software suite is incredibly easy to upgrade. We don’t have to buy the USA’s allegiance, we already have it through NATO and NORAD. We have nothing to gain from buying American, especially considering how we’ve been treated by them as of late.

        1. Gripen-E is not a “brand-new design”. Like F-16V or Super Hornet Blk 3, it is an evolutionary (4.5 generation) aircraft, updated with a modified fuselage for additional fuel capacity, plus improved electronics.

          And no one seems to be baking canard wing features into designs of future fighters. (The PLAAF’s J-31 mixes low observable with canards, but this seems to be a unique design.)

    2. The F-16XL? That’s an ATTACK plane! It was beaten out by the F-15E Strike Eagle! It wasn’t manoeuvrable at all, it was meant to fly straight and level to its ground target and bomb it! Its huge wings weren’t for manoeuvrability, they were there because they were huge and had lots of hardpoints for bombing ordinance.

      What are you going to recommend next, the AMX???

  7. Well, as of today, January 20, 2021, according to US Defence News, the F-35 still has a long way to go in achieving fully mission capability and able to perform all of it’s assigned missions, which currently stands at 36 percent fully mission capable, and striving to be at 50 percent for the fleet. This has been attributed to the F-35′s canopy and the F135 engine’s power module. Adding those issues for Canada’s consideration of the F-35 is the F-35 supply chain which according to a quote in USDNews “does not have enough spare parts available to keep aircraft flying enough of the time necessary to meet warfighter requirements,” according to the GAO. “Several factors contributed to these parts shortages, including F-35 parts breaking more often than expected, and DOD’s limited capability to repair parts when they break.” So if Canada opts for the F-35, guess who gets first dibs on f-35 parts and quality parts when parts are needed ? The US of course. Canada gets to stand in line as with Covid 19 vaccines and definitely that would be the case in times of conflict when both the RCAF and USAF and Marines and Navy are scrambling for parts that are in short supply. But, then again Canada is used to being in that position in the US v Canada pecking order. Which leads to my elephant in the room question which is .. why 77 planes ? Is the RCAF replacing only the 77 remaining legacy CF-18’s over the next few years and then later in this decade buy 60 or 70 more of the same or something else? Canada bought 138 F-18A’s back in the 80’s during the Cold War and is now currently down to the magic number of 77 with limited pristine parts and cannibalizing other legacy F-18A’s for parts. If the rate of loss due to attrition remains the same through the term of the new contract, and why wouldn’t it, then Canada would be down to 0 air combat assets in 40 years or less and scrounging around again for parts and legacy planes for parts in order to fill in capability gaps. So what are we not being told here?

    1. I’m pretty sure that we’re getting 88 planes, not 77. Even so, what you say is true. For a country the size of ours, 88 fighter aircraft is a joke number. We need AT LEAST 300 in my view, especially when countries like Russia and the USA are calling our arctic sovereignty into question.

    2. Where did you pull that rubbish from? 36%? If you are going to lie at least make it credible. The F-35A has the best availability rate in the USAF and is only getting better. Much like Thomas Hawk you are having to lie to make your points.

  8. Of all the three jets, there is only one that can supercruise and that is the Jas39-E. As already mentioned above, reading the GAO reports on the F-35 should scare the hell out of everyone. Survisable–barely. Avaiable for mission—barely, a nightmare–very much so. The f-35 can only carry a little internally. If you decide to put weapons on the outside, that stealth is gone. Period! As also mentioned above, this jet was designed over 20 years ago and has been flying ( barely) for about 10 years. A financial nightmare. Even if you could get this jet for free, the maintenance cost would still bankrupt Canada. We have enough trouble right now and we will not get out of this for sometime.. Also, as mentioned above, with Biden and his version of America first, we need to get out and get our own jet made in Canada. As for the Super Bug block 3, updated electronics and other stuff. Not really a big difference compared to our own “legacy” Hornets. ON top of that, remember the “C” jet now called the Airbus A220 and what Boeing tried to do to us and failed. Screw Boeing. We could end with hidden issues like the 737Max. Boeing was fully aware of the angle of attack problem and did nothing. Over 400 people died as a result. The same goes for the Polaris. That is an Airbus product.. We need to replace it with current Airbus like A330 and its derivatives. Now would be a great time to buy new as there has been a big drop in contracts for new aircraft. We could get a really great and “new” transport jet.
    I do not trust our government to do the right thing . We saw that with the F-35 and the Harper bunch. JAS39-E and”F” is the right choice. The only real choice. The other 2 are junk.

    1. You’re right, JUNK and graft in the U.S. programs. Canadian tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pay politicians off or whomever else is on the take in the U.S. That’s why our insulin is so much cheaper in Canada. Crooked government, that’s why.

      1. Yup. The USA is set up in such a way that to get re-elected, you need lots and lots of MONEY.. That’s why it’s so easy to buy off politicians. They NEED your money in order to keep their jobs. The result is the most corrupt government in all of NATO and flying hunks of junk like the F-35 whose primary mission is siphoning as much money from government coffers into the bank accounts of Lockheed-Martin as quickly and effectively as possible.

        To paraphrase Dick Jones from RoboCop when he was talking about the ED-209:
        “The military contracts that we would have had, who cares whether or not the damn thing worked?!”

        Life sometimes imitates art.

  9. This is such a no-brainer choice, especially if is built or partly assembled in Canada, that there is no way the greased ex-military brass turned lobbyists and corrupt politicians will ever go for it.

    1. Here Here, you hit is right on the head. Not only is Gripen a very capable plane, but it would give Canada and allied operations a different weapon to use. While the US has been the leader, it is time for other countries to step up. Canada could be one of those countries (with the help of our Swedish Sisters and Brothers). Canada has been too dependent on the US, it is giving off the impression that Canada just follows lead of the US.

      Canada has an ear and eye opening experience with the US over PPE and Vaccines, this caused many Canadians to rethink their relationship with the US. It is time for Canada to take a more Made in Canada approach. If this plane was built in Canada and started to gain traction, maybe some planes could be built for export. Canada has a great Aviation history and the AirBus A220 which was designed and developed in Canada, is an excellent example of what Canada is capable of. In fact the US treatment of the A220, where Boeing create a situation where Bombardier had to sell some of its interest to Airbus, just demonstrates why Canada should divest itself a little from reliance on US. The F-35 (which isn’t the greatest plane to be honest), has a very limited operational window, plus the Gripen is more inline with Canada’s fighting culture, which is: do good, robust, deep thinking and capable. With the Aviation industry being hit hard with COVID, this is a great time give Canada’s Aviation industry a boost, by making the plane in Canada.

  10. Canada plans on purchasing 88 new fighters. This amount is not enough for the future, considering the natural loss over time. Is there a reason Canada can not buy 88 Saab’s and 16 F-35’s. Heavy usage absorbed by Saab’s while holding back on hours on the F-35’s.

    1. That makes the JAS-39E an even better choice in my view because the low cost means that we can build more of them. There will be political pressure to do so because the Saab facility will have completely re-vitalised the maritime economy in this country.

  11. Dollar for dollar, there is no issue, the SAAB is the best choice for Canada. This now becomes a political issue, in this arena we and Sweden are small potatoes compared to the Americans. Sadly, we will be financially stuck with the F-35, Justin just has to figure out how he can save face (considering his previous statements re. the F-35 being a bad choice for Canada).

    1. Dan, do not despair. We CANNOT have the F-35A because Trudeau only has a minority government. He NEEDS the NDP and BQ on board in order for him to govern. Both have been very explicit in their intent to ONLY support the JAS-39E while the Greens want no planes at all. He will be literally unable to select the F-35A.

      1. Well, no. The government can rely on the Tories to support an F-35 choice, with the latter crowing that they had been ‘right’ all along. In any case, I see no evidence that the NDP or BQ would make and F-35 choice a matter of confidence in the House. What is there to gain? And who wants another election anyhow?

  12. They are all fast, pull 9 G turns, and launch state of the art weapons. However one air frame allows our pilots to hone their skills in the sky, and not in a simulator, without breaking the budgetary bank, and that’s the JAS 39. As a bonus, if it’s anyone’s concern, it has a smaller carbon footprint.

    1. We should all care about the carbon footprint so that’s a great point you make. Even better, those clever Swedes managed to get a Gripen to fly on BIOFUEL! They honestly amaze me with their ingenuity sometimes.

  13. Canadian Air Force – Sensible SAAB Solution-Canadian Made
    Fighter Replacement
    Gripen acquisition costs substantially less than “Canadianized” F35
    The Gripen can and should be “Canadian Made”
    Canadianized F-35 includes costly modification for a Drag Chute, the F-35 Has no Tail Hook for Arrestor Equipped Runways
    At the present time Canada does not have Air to Air refueling capability for the F-35; expensive modifications to the F-35 will be required for present Probe-and-Drouge method used by the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Operating cost of the Gripen is substantially less (conservative estimated 75% Lower) this equates to more flying hours, more flying hours means happier pilots; happier pilots stay in the service longer, Canada will continue to have unsurpassed professional pilots.
    Gripen allows for more aircraft, higher sortie rates and greater availability rates. The Gripen can be refueled and re-armed in 10 minutes.
    The F 35 relinquishes it “Stealth” characteristics in the ground attack role of when carrying external weapons and fuel tanks. Technology will defeat the F 35 “clean” configuration in the next decade before the F 35 is fully operation in Canada.
    Gripen is not dependent on U.S. regulations or restrictions it is time to end the reliance on American systems, doctrine and economic strangle hold as the demonstrated with Bombardier C Series Aircraft
    The Gripen can operate from all Canadian Forces bases; the F 35 will require expensive infrastructure modifications and maintenance facilities.
    The Gripen is certified for Meteor BVRM far superior than the AIM-120 presently used on CF-18
    Gripen allows Canada open access to software architecture & development upgrades can be Canadian developed and designed as required.
    The Gripen is already serving in NATO Air Forces
    Fielding a fighter made on Canadian soil, by Canadians would be a great source of national pride
    Canada is a Tier 3 Partner in the F-35 program and will be able to compete for contracts regardless if they purchase the F-35, under the present agreement there are NO guarantees of work for Canadians

    Snowbird Replacement / Gripen Demonstration Team
    De-contented, Demilitarized no offensive or defensive systems, radar and communication systems replace with commercial off the shelf systems The cannon area converts to luggage area, re-engine with less expensive GE 404 surplus CF 18 engines. This lowers costs as were essentially buying basic airframes.
    Military wiring harnesses to be retained for quick conversion if required (First aircraft off the production line)
    10 E Models (Snowbirds)
    4 F Models (2 Snowbirds, 2 Gripen Demonstration Team)
    Alternative would be to lease 14 de contended Gripen C/D from Sweden
    Regular Air Force
    72 Gripen E
    24 Gripen F Optimized for Fast Forward Air Control, Electronic Warfare, and Conversion Training
    6 Regular Forces Squadrons 12 E & 4 F models (each Squadron)
    With Gripen’s affordability Canada could equip an additional Reserve Squadron
    CP-140 Replacement- Sooner rather than Later with cost savings realized with the acquisition of the Gripen
    10 Bombardier 6500 / Saab Swordfish MPA manufactured By Bombardier in Canada
    4 Bombardier 6500 / Saab GlobalEye AEW&C (withdraw from NATO AWAC Program) manufactured By Bombardier in Canada, Battle Field Management Platform, Air Space Command and Control, Artic Surveillance

    1. No Paul, we don’t need F series 2 seat Gripen E’s, we need interceptor Gripen E’s as we don’t need A2G fighters. We won’t be invading other countries. We need interceptor’s that can take out Russian aircraft in our airspace with our BVR Meteors missile from 200 km’s away guided by our Global Eye Bombardier AWEC aircraft while the shooter travels out of range of the target aircraft.

      1. The dual-seat Gripen is primarily a trainer as it has no cannon. Saab’s design of the Gripen is based on (as is usual with the Swedes) common aviation sense. A plane that is optimised to be an A2A combatant can still drop bombs on static targets. The most difficult (and dangerous) thing that a fighter will do is engage another fighter. Ground targets just sit there until hit. This is why the Super Tucano can be used as an A2G plane but not as a fighter.

        ANY fighter, no matter how optimised it is for aerial combat, can be easily be used in the A2G role. McDonnell-Douglas really screwed over the USAF because while the F-15C was designed to be an air superiority fighter and nothing else (“not a pound for air-to-ground”), when the tender came out for a high-end attack jet, all McDonnell-Douglas had to do was change the F-15C’s software and “TA-DA! YOU HAVE THE F-15E STRIKE EAGLE!” which (no surprise) turned out to be great at A2G despite being the same plane with the same performance numbers. This showed that if MD had just put the correct software into the F-15C, then EVERY F-15 could be both an F-15C and F-15E at the same time. Of course if that happened, MD (later Boeing) wouldn’t be able to sell twice as many F-15 fighters to the USAF. The problem with the F-35 (well, ok, there are literally HUNDREDS of problems with the JSF) and the F/A-18E is that they’re both optimised for A2G with A2A as an afterthought. Those are DEFINITELY not the planes for us.

      2. Our commitments to our allies require a multi-role capability. That means A2A and A2G. What if one of our allies is invaded? How do you deter with only single-role planes? And if an intruder came across the water, is the Government going to say “Hey, no fair! We only deal with airborne threats”?

  14. F 35 nothing but run away costs. Always issues, expensive to maintain and fly and always at the mercy of who ever becomes president of the USA. You all know what im talking about. Time for canada to put on there big boy pants and go for a little independence. Saab all the way.

  15. It’s unclear how possible it will be to maintain the F-35’s software in the field (or, at least, outside the U.S.), which is worrisome given how software-dependent the airplane is. It’s also a given that the F-35 will only be manufactured in the U.S. This may explain why SAAB puts so much emphasis on software flexibility and Canadian assembly in this article.
    According to Wikipedia, because of the presence of U.S. and U.K. parts, SAAB needs permission from both countries to sell Gripens to a third country. I guess this is meant to prevent some parts (like the GE F414G engine) from falling into Russian or Chinese hands, but in theory the U.S. could prevent a sale of Gripens to Canada.

  16. Canadians don’t have a very clear target on their national defense! The main reason that Canada dropped F-35 was because of its high maintenance and operational costs. So the Liberal Government ditched the already singed contracts and went for an alternative. After several years time being wasted, the Canadians are now left with this awkward situation: Keeping the original promise of buying F-35 and this will make the Canadian Government look like an idiot; or getting a so-called cheap aircraft like Gripen E, or F-18 E etc which definitely doesn’t meet Canadian strategic role as one of NATO’s members and also one of American main military allies. A lot of discussions on what aircraft Canada should have in replacement of CF-18s like some listed here. Some people think that the candidate aircraft should have two engines for Canada is a large country with extreme weather conditions; other people think that the new plane should be Canadian-made, etc. Every one seems to have a reason. However, most of those comments or options, including Canadian Government decision on drooping F-35, rarely touched the fundamental reason of replacing CF-18s, that is: Canada has to take more important role and activities in the NATO’s future conflicts with a strong adversary like China, Russia. Otherwise, Canada would become a “cheap” country in the developed world. Canada might survive under the big ally protections like US in these future military conflicts with China, but that would not give Canada any glory in terms of using its own ability to protect itself. Look at what Australia did on F-35 — a clear and good example for Canada. Australia is not even a NATO member and neither a G7 member and has less resources as Canada, but it made a right decision of buying F-35s in large quantities. At the same tine, Canada has to buy the retired F-18s from Australia, what a shame for Canada! Maybe Australia is alone geographically and so it feels much more strongly to defend its own country on its own abilities. Maybe Canadians think that we have a big brother down the south that can cove our ass in any situation that we can’t cope with. I believe that Canadians do have this kind of mentality for Canada has very low military expenses that doesn’t even meet the NATO’s minimum requirements — 2% of it annual GDP. Come on, Canadians!

    1. I must disagree, Gripen is more than capable to meet NATO needs. Not to mention since it is a Made in Canada jet, anything Canada wants changed is doable. To be totally honest, spending a lot of money on F35 makes no sense. Jets are not as important as they used to be, so spending a lot on F35 will be hard to justify. The Gripen works in the Artic as Sweden has a similar climate to Canada.

      Let’s all be honest, there is not likely to be a War with China and/or Russia where Jet fighting is a significant factor. When the big guys go to war, they will be playing with big toys.
      You make a great point about Canada sticking up for itself, but that has to be against the US as well. F35 draws Canada even closer to the US and it doesn’t work will in the Artic / aka cold weather.
      The Gripen is the jet for Canada, it is NATO compatible, it will be made in Canada, which will help develop Canada’s Aviation industry, plus it is a better aircraft than the F35 which will only burn a hole in Canadian Coffers.

    2. There is no reason for Canada to remain a member of NATO, just as there is no reason for Canada to remain “one of America’s main military allies”. NATO has long outlived its usefulness (if it ever had one), and the U.S.A. does not have allies, only vassals. Canada should purchase the Gripen and strike out on a foreign policy independent of the U.S. military/industrial complex and the madness of U.S. hegemonic imperialism.

    3. When it comes to how smart people are, I’ll take the Germans over the Australians 7 days a week and twice on Sundays. The Luftwaffe took a very quick and very hard pass on the F-35A to replace their Tornado IDS aircraft. Furthermore, your talk of the Gripen not meeting NATO minimum requirements is a LIE because Hungary and the Czech Republic, two NATO MEMBERS both use PREVIOUS versions of the Gripen without issue.

      Finally, your line “2% of it annual GDP. Come on, Canadians” tells me that you’re an American who is trying to push your flying junk onto us. Too bad, so sad, no thanks.

    4. We don’t need any examples from you. We don’t want to buy a fighter designed for invasions of other countries, we want interceptors to keep trespassers out of our airspace. The F35 was designed for your needs and like everything else in the U.S. the graft included is for you to pay with your tax dollars, not ours. The Gripen E is a far more intelligently engineered fighter. Separate computer systems for avionics and flight make a huge difference, software change in the morning, missions in the afternoon. Can’t do that in an F35.
      Plus $45000. per flight hour to fly that slow pig that is far to slow.. The Gripen E flies about 350 mph (Mach 2.0) faster than the F35. Gripen E can fly STOL operations that an F35 can’t. We can’t wait all day for the F35 to get to the incursion area. It’s a fighter that’s designed for your aspirations, not ours, invading other countries.. Even your F22’s are fatally flawed.

      1. Isn’t it amazing, the nerve that Americans have? They think that the same lies that work on each other would work on Canadians just as well. I don’t understand why anyone would lie like that on the internet when all anyone has to do is look up their claim to call BS on it. It makes me laugh sometimes.

  17. Even the USAF is having second thoughts about it F-35 plans and working on developing a fighter version of the T-7. Its not so shocking that the T-7 has a lot of Gripen tech in it. SAAB is probably the most competent defence contractor out there. They have to try 10x harder then the Americans because Sweden has no poliical clout. Gripen will do a great job for Canada and will make a much more positive impact on our economy then F-35. As for Boeing, they killed Canada’s C-Series dream. Do we want to spend any money with the enemy?

    1. Yup, it was called a failure by the U.S. We’re not telling them anything they don’t already know. It’s basically a flawed fighter that should have been digitally shielded and built with a lot more
      performance in mind. It’s far to slow to be useable for any other missions and stealth won’t last long but digital shielding will.

      1. You know what’s funny Paul? The fact that both of the USA’s current stealth aircraft are failures. The F-22 cost so much to develop, build and maintain that it makes the F-35 appear cheap. Yet for all of the money that was spent on its development and implementation, it has NEVER, not once, been used for its intended role. It has never gone up against a Flanker or a Foxhound. It was just a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars to the delight of Lockheed-Martin.

    2. Boeing’s challenge on the C-Series was just plain dumb. However, the company has a lot invested in Canada, including a facility in Winnipeg that employs 1,700 people. Ask them if Boeing is their (or Canada’s) enemy.

  18. Looking in on this facinating discussion. I ‘ve been in aviation for a bit over 30 years.
    I see the Cf-18a&b up close. They are soldering on, but tired. You can see that. Like the
    T-33 they will soon be regarded as museum pieces. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the
    road. I, till recently paid little attention to the Swedish offering. I had been leaning into
    The SuperHornet camp. The F35 is a disaster in the making Financially. It’s teething issues
    reveal some serious shortcomings hither to, unexposed.
    The Super Hornet, has less in common to the Legacy Models than you may think. Costs
    would still be higher than the long range returns.
    Politically, America’s in trouble. The futureof the Empire is in question.
    A relationship with the return of the Orange Reich, would be
    increasingly problematic.
    The social and economic benefits aren’t guaranteed. Boeing is a fair
    weather friend.
    Now…After closely looking at the facts and attributes of the Saab, I say pass the meatballs and
    SAAB … All the Way. It just makes sense in so many ways.

    1. Good on ya for researching the Gripen. So many people ignore it and just act like “The Americans make the best planes!” because that’s the effect that American propaganda has had upon Canadians through the US media. I took a VERY close look at all five planes that were initially on offer and found the two American offerings to be vastly inferior to ALL THREE of the Eurocanards for Canada. I found the Gripen to be by far our best choice, even when the EF-2000 and Rafale were still in the mix.

  19. I am in total agreement with John Smithson and most of the other people here. The USA is not our friend—period. End of! They have been trying and succeeding in controlling as much as they can. Time to give them not only one middle finger but two, one from each hand. The one thing that scares me the most is John Smithson’s last comment regarding common sense. There is the issue big time! Common sense here in Canada is dictated by the bureaucrats and self serving politicians of all stripes. I truly believe that the possibility of Canada acquiring the Gripen is low. The USA is a lot like China. Likes to use money and bullying to get what it wants. I truly and honestly hope that I am wrong ,but past events are ever present. I think that the most persuavive argument for Canada to get the Gripen other than the obvious excellence of this jet, is the USAF choice to make big cut backs in their order of the F-35 because it is too expensive to operate and maintain. The USAF ‘s budget is much more than Canada’s entire military budget. If the F-35 is too expensive for them, then Canada should be running away from Lockheed’s POS jet the F-35., BUT, that is toooo much common sense isn’t it—right! Go Saab go–Go Gripen go!

    1. Yep, the only thing that can be trusted about the Americans is that they’ll only do something if it’s in their best financial interest. Everything they do is motivated by greed and that has been proven over and over again by their overthrowing of democratically-elected governments who weren’t “friendly enough” to US corporations. The American definition of “friendly” in this case was allowing their corporations to exploit the country’s population, lay waste to the country’s ecology, ignore any and all safety regulations and pay little to no taxes. Even in Canada, how many Canadian businesses have disappeared or have been bought out courtesy of our “best friends” to the south? How many times have we been kneecapped by the Americans because they don’t want our products competing with theirs on the world market? The Arrow and the CSERIES come to mind. One was clandestine and aided by a pro-US Conservative government while the other was far more brazen. Then after Boeing pulled their crap, they had the AUDACITY to refer to themselves as our “partners”. Yeah, ok, no thanks, get lost!

      If we really want to be “The True North Strong and Free” we had better start acting like it. Caving to the Americans isn’t smart, it’s spineless.

      1. Trudeau didn’t cave to Trump. He just let him dig his own hole, they totally outsmarted the Trump team. Remember the Trump Tariff’s on our aluminum and steel, they never took into consideration that we also supplied Mexico with aluminum and steel. So Mexico couldn’t honour there contracts unless dumb ass cancelled the tariff’s. Trump and his team jus aren’t as good at negotiating compared to our team. Live and Learn….LOL

        1. Well, we know that Trump is a “stable genius”, eh? I swear, I don’t know what’s wrong with people these days. They elect Trump because he validated their fears about immigrants and made impossible promises like his wall and bringing back the coal-mining jobs.

          There’s someone else that Trump reminds me of. Someone who also got elected by validating people’s fears about proper sexual education and also on impossible promises like dropping the price of gas by 10¢ per litre and bringing back dollar beers (I still can’t believe that Ontarians fell for that one).

          Of course, I’m talking about the OTHER political man-child in North America, Rob Ford. He’s also extremely easy to outwit because he has the IQ of a drunken donkey.

  20. Why not focus on role, responsibilities and response, then cost and effectiveness. Primary role and responsibility is protecting and projecting Canadian sovereignty, satisfying NORAD, NATO and other COMMITMENTS. So yes there is both an A2A and A2G requirement at the very least. I for one cannot fathom how an F-35 at its cost could be used for A2G – hell with the savings Gripen provides purchase the A10C or its replacements or even more Gripens for COIN applications. Gripen’s Arctic heritage bodes well for far north defence of the realm. Short-landing and takeoff allows for greater deployment in time of need across a broader and more defensible land infrastructure. More FOB’s make it more difficult for the “enemy” to neuter our self-defence capability. That said, Gripen provides best bang for the buck – lowest Capital Acquisition and Operating Cost, 10-minute turnaround and 1 hour plus repair and maintenance act as a force multipliers compared to the alternatives. It’s a numbers game you simply cannot ignore. If future proofing our next generation fighter fleet through 2060 is a requirement, then we should seriously think about purchasing only Gripen F’s optionally allowing the pilot on what he/she does best and the bombadier/navigator to focus on everything else – be it e-warfare, controlling wingman drones and/or targeting direct energy weapons and other not thought of future developments. I do like the TCO calculations – very compelling arguments in the face of other military capital spending (i.e. NSS). $3ooM plus per F-35 vs. $100M plus per Gripen. That $200 million per plane could come in handy, don’t you think – more time for our pilots to spend in the air (a great recruiting inducement), enhanced ability to afford upgrades, purchase of additional aircraft for attrition and/or a fuller complement to satisfy and service our every role and responsibility. I’d think RCAF would be tickled pink to have more aircraft at its disposal. Lastly stealth. If you can measure RCS, don’t you think a hummingbird flying at Mach 1 bears further scrutiny? Wouldn’t AESA radar would be able to notice it? Maybe I’m over simplifying it? What about tracking turbulence from satellites – as a way to track and target stealth, a reason why I’m not entirely convinced stealth is a true game changer today. It certainly won’t be tomorrow. Hope that gives added food for thought beyond performance considerations?

  21. It’s just stupid to not choose Gripen. Saab will create local jobs and share technology. So in a conflict Canada will be able to produce there own Gripen. The other thing is the cost per aircraft, per hour, time to rearm and maintenance. Gripen is built to be able to land on roads. No need of airstrip that will be bombed. The Gripen can Be rearmed and maintanced in 15 min. Argument can be done back and forward regarding best technology. But the biggest difference is the Stealth or not. Stealth is a great technology for striking in stealth but drawback in arment. Is this Canadas main purpose to attack or keep the territory? For Sweden it’s to keep territory…. I think Canada is in a similar situation? Images the amount of Gripen you can get compare with F35. You need to consider cost, maintance and cost per hour at 10 years..

  22. well folks seems were arent and never will be the good old USAF , We have NATO obligations nothing more and are a weak second rate power. SO lets get real OK, we have to fund blue water defense and ground/army. Not to mentions we live in a world of asymmetric and digital warfare. We need f-35s in computer form protecting national interests not in airframe form.
    To add my misgiving with the F35 are that its a specialized expensive tool that we move forward and use in environments and missions that it was not intended for . Drop iron bombs on talibanistic type folks well, what a waste. Flying stealth over the spratley islands , not where we are intended to be.
    The gripen to me seems the right fit.

    1. We don’t even need a blue-water navy. We only need a littoral navy. We’re not power-projectors so I think that we’d be much better served with a large fleet of Swedish Visby-class Stealth Missile Corvettes and Disruptor-type AIP submarines than the crap we have and are getting.

      If a Visby Stealth Corvette launches an RBS.15 anti-ship missile at another surface vessel, anything smaller than a carrier will sink immediately and a carrier would be severely crippled. These great little boats carry 8 RBS.15 missiles each and if they use the Mk.IV they have an effective range of >350km. What’s the point of having a bigger boat when a single missile from a corvette will one-shot any frigate, destroyer or cruiser still on the seas?

      1. Have you been to sea, sir? Are you acquainted with sea conditions off our coasts in February? Are you quite certain that vessels designed for hit-and-run ops in the Baltic Sea will have the stability and stamina to meet any determined opposition off the Grand Banks?
        My knowledge is imperfect too, but I believe that a cursory reading of the RCN’s history will show that we do in fact seek to project naval power to distant waters. We may not do so in great scale, but government policy over the decades has required the navy to deploy far-distant ships, usually in coalition settings.

  23. This is all very beguiling. But the fact remains that despite the Gripen E’s merits, it has lost every competition it has entered. Not a single NATO ally has purchased it. (It has even been bested by the F-16V in Europe!) How well does this bode for a would-be Gripen user like Canada who 1) recognizes the criticality of inter-operability and 2) is obliged by its defence budget and procurement system to keep complex systems in service for 45-50 years? Not well, I would say. The capabilities of Gripen E will only advance incrementally in the years ahead, and will only do so based on user requirements. Fewer users = less incentive for SAAB to come up with capability enhancements required to take the Grip into the 2040s and beyond. Meanwhile, look around: every future fighter programme among allied/partner nations (as well as competitor nations) involves a low-observable design! So why not go that route now? After FFCP is over, we won’t re-visit this matter until 2060.

    You can stomp and pout about the perfidious nature of today’s America all you want, and bay at the moon for more Canadian ‘sovereignty’, but Canada will NOT step up and take full charge of our own defence (or the defence of allies) because successive governments have amply shown their unwillingness to spend more. America has long asked us to do more, but we consistently refuse. Thus it pays to be part of a large user group, which can facilitate joint purchases of spare parts and share best practices in operations and maintenance. Heck, even the Super Hornet Mk 3 would have been a better bet than the Grip.

    However tempting it is to opine that both NATO and non-NATO allies/partners have ‘caved’ to American pressure, it defies common sense to state that all of the F-35 purchasers were acting against their own interests in buying the F-35. More likely they saw it as an imperfect solution to a strategic (vice tactical) problem – namely, how to solidify a relationship with the great power that, despite its many challenges, will meaningfully help them underwrite their own security. So they will accept higher operating costs and fewer industrial benefits, but will get a leg up on the future and preserve a relationship that, like it or not, still girds their foreign policies.

  24. In light of the recent developments in Ukraine, does David Turgeon still think NATO is obsolete?

  25. Sweden is all about defence and the Gripen is based around it’s own defence strategy. Sweden is a huge (long) country so the plane is designed to to provide distance coverage. Finally, if Trump or someone like him , gets back into power the US “relationship” with Canada means nothing and could compromise Canada’s national security.
    From a political perspective it’s a no brainer: less cost, more jobs, local production and adequate capability.

  26. The Gripen is the clear choice for the RCAF. We are not in the business of stealth missions. Maybe a small handful of F-35 could come in useful, but Saab has the clear advantage in an procurement process untainted by political considerations.

    A fantastic and capable fighter. The era of dog fights are not over.

    1. Dogfights are over, if you or your enemy has AESA radars, or if you or your enemy has stealth aircraft; both of these technologies will only become more prevalent. If you want a chance at a relevant air force in the 21st century, you must be absolutely lethal beyond visual range, and there’s no aircraft better at that than the F-35. This is no dismissal of the Gripen, as it’s a very impressive, capable aircraft, but the gap between 5th gen stealth and 4th generation cannot be overstated.

  27. As Ernie has said “In light of the recent developments in Ukraine,” what would be a better weapon for the battlefield as we see it this very day. The versatile, low maintenance, land on a highway, fast, lethal Jas 39 Gripen or the F35…high maintenance, static airbase, supply heavy, etc.
    The battlefield changes constantly. 🙂

  28. I won’t waste my time nitpicking combat specs or engaging in an armchair warrior WW3 superpower Armageddon ,as what we’ve BEEN buying are U.S.Navy CARRIER multirole bomb trucks jackoffalltrades/master of none at prices far higher than a REAL twin jet which has never lost a fight ; the F15, Alaskan land deployed ,covering the Arctic seas.
    btw-the view we need twin jets for the Arctic is outdated . twin engines DO NOT offer less attrition loss than modern singles -and stats comparing actual F18 versus F16 losses proves it.
    However what Canada DOES need is Short Take Off for our forward arctic land bases , modest maintenance requirements, lowest operating costs and BUILT HERE (under license) so at least the assembly budget goes to CANADIAN skilled workers, so at least some of our tax money stays HERE, which only leaves us with the Gripen.
    About the F-35 (as some of the Lockheed’s components are already built here as we invested about $ 400 m in the R&D for that privilege) ;the only version of the F35 justifying its horrible maintenance cost is the VSTOL “B” variant which would give a small navy such a ours a fearsome punch ,assuming our shit4brains brass wouldn’t have blown ~3/4 Billion apiece on those embarrassingly puny “frigate”/ coastguard cutters and the equally stupid TWO medium lift but different logistics overpriced marine helicopters. Firing most the contractor mouthpiece brass needs to be the first step before wasting any more dollars on DND.

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