|Interview with Anders Carp, Director Gripen for Switzerland|
|Last week I had the opportunity to make an interview with Anders Carp who is the campaign Director Gripen for Switzerland.|
The Saab Gripen is undoubted one of the most capable fighter aircraft in the world. The Gripen was the first real fourth generation fighter, which was introduced in a European country. Saab has a big tradition in designing fighters. With the Saab Viggen Sweden was already the first Country in Europe who was able to introduce a third generation fighter machine. The Saab Gripen is a small single engine multirole swing role fighter for all three major tasks in air combat. You can use the aircraft efficiently for air to air, air to ground and reconnaissance missions. The Swedish Air Force took over their first Gripen in 1993 and Sweden will keep the program running well beyond 2040. With the Gripen Demo Saab shows his contenders once more how to proceed with a well developed fighter program. Pricewise no other fighter can beat the Gripen!
Das Interview in Deutsch finden Sie auf der zweiten Seite.
|Let’s talk a bit about you personally Mr. Carp.|
|How did you get into the Aviation business?|
|I have always been fascinated by the military and growing up in Linköping, which really is the aeronautical capital of Sweden, has probably influenced me a lot. On top of that, my previous career was as an officer in the Swedish Army. I guess you could say that the military has always played a big part in my life.|
|After such a long time, are you still excited by the Aviation Industry?|
|I have the best job in the world, with the opportunity to work with the most advanced fighter available on the market today. Furthermore, the sales and marketing for fighter procurements involve so much more than traditional marketing – the multi-faceted nature of my job makes it one of the best assignments you can have.|
|How did you come to join Saab and to the Gripen programme?|
|I joined Saab in 2001 as an operational analyst and business developer; working with various military projects related to Net Centric Warfare, UAVs and Gripen. Before taking over the responsibilities for Gripen in Switzerland, I was the head of Saab’s UAV business.|
|What’s your main task at the Gripen Project Office in Berne?|
|My main task is, obviously, to offer and hopefully secure the best F-5 Tiger replacement for Switzerland, meaning securing a Gripen contract. I am responsible for all activities concerning the Gripen fighter in Switzerland.|
|Let’s talk about the fighter aircraft, Saab Gripen.|
|Where are Gripen’s main capabilities?|
|The main capabilities of Gripen cover many areas ranging from aircraft performance to the low cost of operation and industrial participation packages. |
Starting with the aircraft itself: Gripen is a true multi-role, latest generation aircraft that is tailored to meet to the requirements set out by your authorities – to defend Switzerland.
Another very important issue, especially for your pilots, is that Gripen is very reliable. The aircraft has an outstanding engine safety record, accumulated flight hours to date total more than 130,000 with no single loss of aircraft due to engine failure.
I mean, when was the last time you heard of any single engine fighter crashing due to an engine problem? This question is confined to history - today’s engine technology is so much more advanced and safe than in the past.
From an environmental perspective, with Gripen’s single engine philosophy, you can expect significant reductions in fuel consumption. The emission and noise impact are also proven to be lower compared with other fighter aircraft.
In addition, Gripen has an unbeatably low acquisition, operation and support cost compared to its competitors, meaning that Gripen will perform every task required at a much lower price than its competitors. This ensures that the Swiss Armed Forces will have money to spend on other procurements or military activities.
Gripen is also a perfect complement to the F/A-18 and would form an ideal mix of forces. The Gripen is similar in size to the F5 Tiger which enables the continued use of existing infrastructure without the need for costly refurbishment. Gripen’s advanced design together with the latest technologies in avionics, sensors and weaponry result in capabilities and effectiveness that match and in some cases exceed those of the F/A-18.
Moreover, the Swedish parliament has formally given its full support and commitment to the operational use and continuous development of Gripen beyond 2040. The ongoing Gripen Demonstrator programme will ensure that Gripen remains at the leading edge of technology for many years to come. The purpose of the Gripen Demonstrator Programme is to demonstrate the capabilities that may be included in the current or future versions of Gripen. In addition to the already proven ability to supercruise, the Gripen Demonstrator is equipped with more internal fuel for longer endurance capacity and it has also been modified with a number of tactical systems such as AESA radar, a new satellite communication system and an electro-optical missile warning system.
If Switzerland opts for Gripen, it will also be choosing a strong partnership with Sweden and close co-operation in technological and strategic terms. The advantages of this are worth examining closely. Sweden is a neutral and non-aligned country, just like Switzerland. That is not the case with other European fighter manufacturers, which all belong to NATO. In terms of national security policy, Sweden is much closer to Switzerland than countries such as France, Germany, the UK or Italy.
Last not but least, by choosing Gripen, Switzerland will get at least a 100 % return on the investment through our industrial co-operation programme – enabling Swiss Industry to increase its existing business and thus securing jobs all over Switzerland.
|How many man hours are needed to keep Gripen airborne for one hour?|
|I’m glad you brought up this issue, since this is one of many advantages to be had by choosing Gripen. Gripen is a fighter that meets the high requirements set by the Swedish customer - not only in terms of cost and performance but also in terms of reliability and maintenance.|
Sweden is a small nation that cannot afford to have vast maintenance resources within its Air Force. In order to minimize logistics support and maintenance, Saab had to be clever when designing Gripen. For instance, just as Switzerland has militia soldiers, Sweden uses conscripts to perform major parts of the maintenance on the aircraft. This means that almost all maintenance only requires one attending technician, who then serves more as a supervisor. This allows cost-effective and rapid maintenance design with minimum staff on the ground. Lower maintenance costs provide the Army with the possibility to procure and operate other material systems, the money does not all have to be spent on the Air force.
Coming back to your question - there are of course different ways to answer this question, but based on one year of operation, the number of direct man hours required to keep Gripen in the air for one hour is approximately 2.5 hours for the Swiss Air Force personnel.
|How did Gripen perform in the Air to Air mission over Nevada at the Red Flag exercises?|
|The Swedish Air Force attaches a great deal of importance to international exercises since this is a very good way for our pilots to prove and improve their skills and tactics. As you may know, our Air Force has participated in Red Flag exercises both in Alaska and in Nevada, as well as numerous other fighter meets around the world. In every case, Gripen has performed very well and has greatly exceeded both our expectations as well as that of the other participants. This has proven to be true in terms of availability, operational capability and mission success. During Red Flag Nellis, Gripen flew in a variety of different roles and proved once again that Gripen is a true multi-role fighter with state-of-the-art capabilities.|
Looking closer to home, our colleagues in the Czech Air Force policed the airspace of the Baltic States from May 1 to August 31 in their first ever NATO 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) assignment. Two Gripen aircraft were on 24/7 standby, and during the summer a record of eight Alfa scrambles were witnessed. Alfa scrambles are live incidents compared to the two regular training (tango) scrambles performed each working day. In total the Czech Air Force performed 400 flights during the assignment. This was done at the same time that their own domestic QRA had to be maintained from the home base in Čáslav. I must say that I am very impressed by the fact that a country with 14 multi-role Gripen fighters and 18 QRA pilots are able to perform this many flights over the Baltic while performing their own QRA in the Czech Republic at the same time.
|How is the Radar Cross Section compared with the Saab Viggen or the F/A-18C?|
|First I would like to stress that discussing only RCS is to simplify signatures too much. The spectrum, in which you like to be invisible, is much broader than simply the radar spectrum. You also have Infra Red, Radio and Visual bands that you want to be small in.|
To start with, Gripen has a small physical size in terms of RCS. Technological measurements in wings, inlets, skin and paint also makes Gripen hard to find using radar. The data is of course confidential, as for all other manufacturers, but live international exercises have shown that Gripen is hard to detect. In terms of other spectrums, such as visual and IR, no competitor comes close to Gripen’s ability to be invisible. For other platforms, two engines and a larger airframe inevitably does not help in these matters.
|Fighter Competition in Switzerland|
|How is the Gripen positioned against its two contenders, Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon?|
|Gripen is well positioned against its competitors! I would even say that it’s the only aircraft in this competition that is tailored to meet Switzerland’s requirement – defending its neutral airspace. The real question is about the fighter’s capabilities. Together with proven Air-to Air, Air-to-Ground and Recce capabilities, none of the competitors are able to match the multirole concept. To be a true multirole fighter, all features have to be multirole including sensors and weapons. While our competitors still have some work to do, for instance integrating common Air-to-Ground weapons or reconnaissance equipment, we already have a complete platform for all types of missions and we are continuing to integrate more and more sensors as well as weapons.|
The Gripen system is built for the future and the continuous development of sensors and weapons makes Gripen flexible and easy to adapt to new technologies.
Gripen is the only platform today with the ability to support testing of the new BVRAAM missile called METEOR. None of the heavy two engine competing platforms are able to carry METEOR.
Furthermore, all three competitors have roughly the same capabilities in terms of radius, range and endurance. How is this possible with the smaller Gripen? The answer is physics. Big heavy two-engine platforms weigh more and has greater drag. Therefore they need more power, forcing higher fuel consumption resulting in decreased range and radius - this is also a very expensive way to operate an air force.
|How many aircraft are you offering Switzerland within the assigned budget of 2.2 Billion Swiss Francs, with the basic Air to Air armament?|
|That is a matter between us and armasuisse, since it is a commercial secret, but as the head of Saab Gripen in Switzerland I am prepared to claim that our fighter is the best choice for Switzerland and will have the smallest impact on the army\'s budget.|
|Why should Switzerland choose the Saab Gripen? (Only the three most important advantages)|
|• Gripen is a true multi-role fighter that meets Switzerland’s requirements. By choosing Gripen, Switzerland will get the best “return on investment” from its fighter. Instead of paying for engines, fuel and large airframes, the investment will be on important capabilities such as avionics, sensors, weapons and networks. Things that will ultimately give the Swiss Armed Forces a true Force Multiplier.|
• Gripen has unbeatably low acquisition, operation and support costs compared to its competitors. This enables the Swiss Army to have the possibility to develop other parts of the Army while offering the Swiss Air Force access to new fighters at the same time.
• By choosing Gripen, Switzerland will get a 100 % return on its investment through our industrial co-operation programme – the programme will not only boost exports, create more jobs and long-term sustainable growth for Switzerland, it will also deliver technology transfer within various industrial sectors such as defence, aviation and security.
|Mr. Carp, thank you very much for taking part in the interview and discussion regarding the Saab Gripen.|
|Das Interview in Deutsch finden Sie auf der nächsten Seite.|