Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter are keeping their dreams alive as the F-35 lurches and staggers into developmental test, according to Aviation Leak‘s Bill Sweetman:
People at Saab, Eurofighter and Dassault are of one voice on JSF and do not believe it will deliver its promised affordability, whether in acquisition, upgrades or operational cost, or that it will deliver capability on its present schedule. They expect that when JSF emerges from development, its stealth technology will be less valuable than expected, and that it will be inferior in other respects to European products.
The non-competitive selections of the JSF by the Netherlands, Norway and Canada are attributed to three main factors: political pressure by the U.S. (suspected for years but confirmed in 2010 by WikiLeaks), U.S.-oriented air forces, and political vacillation enabled by the fact that full-rate production JSFs are not available for order.
This worldview underpins the Europeans’ determination to keep their programs alive until the JSF program runs its course, or unravels, as they expect it to.
India’s decision to eliminate all but two contenders for its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement was a blow to Boeing and Saab, the companies in the losing group who had reason to hold out most hope in the competition (see p. 21). For the survivors, Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Dassault (Rafale), it means a bruising duel to win the contract and—for the winner—a major challenge to fulfill it.
The Gripen is a dated design, although Saab is doing what they can to update the platform. The Typhoon was designed for air superiority over the emerging MiG-29 and Su-27 threat, while the Rafale compromised air-to-air lethality for multi-mission flexibility, enhanced by advanced electronic attack features.
Well, I guess we’ll see.