The JAS-39C/D Gripen for the Philippine Air Force? – Part One

Front view of a JAS-39C Gripen aircraft. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In October 2018, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed in an interview by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the JAS-39 Gripen will likely be selected for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) multi role combat aircraft program.1

Saab has been actively promoting their Gripen aircraft in the Philippines for quite some time now, culminating in them bringing in a full sized model of their JAS-39C Gripen aircraft during the Asian Defence and Security Show (ADAS) in September 2018 in Manila.2

Now I have done a number of blogs about the Gripen over the years since 2013, so I had some reservations about doing another one again. However, I thought that I needed to update those blogs, and also there were still some things that could be discussed about the aircraft.

‘The JAS-39 Gripen’
The JAS-39 Gripen a light, multi role combat aircraft made by the Swedish Aerospace company the Saab AB. It first flew in 1988, and was adopted by the Swedish Air Force in 1995. The improved “C” version of the Gripen which Saab is offering to us first entered service with Sweden in 2002.3

A total of six (6) countries have so far used the Gripen with their air forces, namely Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand. Approximately 256 aircraft are either currently in service or on order.4

There are two main types of Gripen models, a single seat and a twin seat model. Both are identical except for the number of seats and that the twin seat model is heavier in terms of empty weight by several hundred kilograms. The C version is a single seat version while the D is a twin seat version.

The JAS-39C/D is actually not the latest model in the Gripen family, there is the JAS-39E/F Gripen which is bigger, heavier, with a more powerful engine, and more capable, but Saab did not offer this to us probably because it isn’t scheduled to first enter service with the Swedish Air Force until 2023.5 And even then, the first few years of production will likely prioritize deliveries to the air forces with larger orders like Sweden and Brazil.

’Comparisons’
The American company Lockheed Martin is offering their F-16V Viper Block 70 to the Philippines, they even bought a large scale model of it with PAF markings during the ADAS 2018 event, so I will be comparing the JAS-39C to that, along with our own FA-50PH Fighting Eagle aircraft. 6 7 8 9 10

WEIGHTS: In terms of the weights, the JAS-39C/D and FA-50PH are very similar aircraft, with their Empty Weights (EW) and Maximum Take Off Weights (MTOW). Both aircraft are significantly lighter than the F-16V, with the JAS-39C/D being around 23-26% lighter in terms of EW and 36% lighter in terms of MTOW than the F-16V.

PAYLOAD: In terms of Payload with full internal fuel, again the JAS-39C/D and FA-50PH are very close to each other, with the JAS-39C/D being able to carry a bit more. Compared to the F-16V though, the JAS-39C/D can carry a significant 39-43% less Payload.

’Estimated Ranges’
Things get more interesting when it comes the estimated ranges that it merits its own section. In terms of the Internal Fuel Fraction (IFF), the JAS-39C/D turns out to have 7% less than that of the FA-50PH, meaning that it carries less fuel compared to its Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW), likely indicating less range when on full internal fuel especially since both aircraft use basically the same engine.

The RM12 engine of the JAS-39C/D is a license built version by the Swedish company Volvo of the F404 engine used on the FA-50PH with some improvements to lessen inspections or replacements and thus increase reliability.11 Hence they have the same Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) at Military Thrust (the maximum power setting of the engine without the using its afterburner).

The advantage of the JAS-39C/D though over the FA-50PH is that it can do Air to Air Refueling (AAR), meaning it can extend its range while still flying whereas the FA-50PH cannot since it doesn’t have that capability as of now.

The JAS-39C/D can also carry bigger External Fuel Tanks (EFT) which at 1,136 L (or 916 kg) is around twice as large in terms of capacity than the FA-50PH’s 570 L (or 460 kg) tanks.

Compared to the F-16V, the gap in estimated range goes even higher as the JAS-39C/D has 19% less IFF and its RM12 engine has 9% higher SFC than the F110 engine of the F-16V.12 13

’Slovak Republic Study’14
The above data coincides with some of the findings of a more comprehensive study comparing the F-16V and the JAS-39C made by the Slovak Republic released earlier this year. Among their findings were that the JAS-39C had much less Range and Endurance compared to the F-16V.

As can be seen in the above data, compared to the F-16V, the JAS-39C has 24% less Maximum Range with External Fuel Tanks, 47% less Combat Radius and 89% less Endurance at a distance of 740 km from base in the Air to Air Configuration.

’WVR Combat’
Comparing below the Within Visual Range (WVR) features of the three aircraft:

AVIONICS AND WEAPONS: The JAS-39C/D is better in terms of Aviation Electronics (Avionics) and weapons compared to the FA-50PH because it has a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) and High Off Boresight Missiles (HOBM), enabling it to launch its missiles at higher offset angles.

But options are available to integrate these also into the FA-50PH like the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM)15 and Python 516 missiles, if we are willing to spend for it. The F-16V has similar weapons and avionics making it equal with the JAS-39C/D.

WING LOADING (WL): The JAS-39C/D only has slightly lower 2-5% WL than the FA-50PH, but has a 13% higher G-Limit. Compared to the F-16V, it has the same G-Limit but its WL is significantly lower at 25-27%. This enables the JAS-39C/D to make turns with tighter radiuses compared to both aircraft.

THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO (TTWR): Here the JAS-39C/D is deficient compared to the FA-50PH and F-16V, indicating that it won’t be able to maintain altitude in a turn as long or accelerate as fast as either aircraft. But the difference isn’t that big, only around 1-8%.

INTERNAL GUN: The internal gun of the JAS-39C has a much slower rate of fire, only half that of the FA-50PH and a quarter that of the F-16V. But it does make up for it by having a longer range and hits its target harder since it is of a bigger caliber. The JAS-39D though lacks an internal gun.

’BVR Combat vs. FA-50PH’
Comparing below the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) features of the three aircraft:

The JAS-39C/D has longer ranged BVR Air to Air Missiles (BVRAAM), unlike the FA-50PH which has no such qualified missiles as of now, although there are options to integrate those also with the FA-50PH, like the Derby missile.17 The JAS-39C/D’s PS-05/A Mk4 Radar is also more powerful than the ELM-2032 radar of the FA-50PH, allowing a much longer detection range.

The range of the Gripen’s PS-05/A Mk4 against a particular Radar Cross Section (RCS) has not been published, but Saab describes it as being able to detect a same sized aircraft 150% further compared to the previous version.18 Data for the older version PS-05/A radar puts its detection range as up to 102 km for a fighter sized target with an RCS of 5 m^2.19

From there we can calculate that the PS-05/A Mk4 could have a detection range of up to 153 km, which is almost three times the estimated detection range of 55 km for the same sized target of the ELM-2032.20

’The Meteor Advantage’
In BVR combat, the big advantage of the JAS-39C/D over the F-16V (at least in theory) is its Meteor missile which is the first ramjet powered air to air missile to enter military service, and the Gripen is the first aircraft to integrate it.

The Meteor is special because its ramjet engines allow it to be throttled while in flight, allowing greater range and greater maneuverability. Official sources puts its range at more than 100 km21, but some sources puts it as far as 320 km.22

What we do know is that for missiles of similar size, weight and thrust of the Meteor like the F-16V’s AIM-120D Advanced Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM), a ramjet engine should have a longer range. The range of the AIM-120D is classified, but some sources puts it as at least 160 km,23 hence the Meteor’s range is expected to be better than that.

’New BVR Missile Standard’24
Ramjet powered missiles could become the new standard for BVR missiles since a number of countries like India and Russia are also developing similar missiles. China is another country developing such missiles, they have at least two in development with similar ranges as the Meteor, the PL-12D and the PL-15.

The US is reportedly now developing its own ramjet BVR missile, but it may take them awhile to field these into service. There doesn’t seem to be any immediate plans by the Americans to integrate the Meteor into the F-16 platform, thus it will have to rely on the AMRAAM for its BVR missiles in the near future.

’Radar Disadvantages’ 25
The JAS-39C/D’s radar seems to have a shorter range than the AN/APG-83 radar of the F-16V though. One source says that the AN/APG-83 can detect a 5 m^2 target at 195 km26 which is 22% better than that of the PS-05/A Mk4.

The PS-05/A radar also uses an older Mechanically Steered Array (MSA) Antenna compared to the newer Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna used on the AN/APG-83 radar. AESA has some significant advantages over MSA like first, it is more reliable because it has no moving parts and thus require less maintenance.

It also uses multiple radar modes at the same time instead of switching between them, meaning it can track air, sea or ground targets at the same time. It is more resistant to jamming since it uses a wider band of frequencies.

Most importantly, the signals of an AESA radar have what’s called as a Low Probability of Interception (LPI), meaning even if an enemy aircraft has Radar Warning Receivers (RWR), it still won’t necessarily know that an AESA radar has already spotted and tracked them since it won’t be able to detect its radar signals easily.

This is a big advantage as the AESA equipped aircraft could remain undetected and could lock on and launch its missiles without the enemy aircraft knowing about. Because of this characteristic, an AESA radar can also be called a “stealthy” radar.

‘AEWC Support’
The JAS-39C/D’s radar has a shorter range than its Meteor missile when going up against fighter sized aircraft, hence it won’t be able to take full advantage of the Meteor’s long range.

To correct this, the JAS-39C/D will need support from Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft with bigger, more powerful and longer ranged radars, preferably with AESA antennas. The AEW can then share targeting data to the JAS-39C/D, or even direct the Meteor missiles themselves as the Meteor allows for that.

’EW Suite’
In this day and age where Electronics play a big part in aerial combat, the need for a defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (EWS) is very important as it serves as sort of an “Electronic Armor” around the aircraft.

The JAS-39C/D uses an integrated EWS made by Saab called the EWS-3927 which has a bit more features than the Spectrolite SPS-6528 used on the FA-50PH since it allows the use of a Towed Aerial Decoy. The F-16V uses the Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS) AN/ALQ-21329 as its EWS, and it has about the same features as the EWS-39.

I think the most important thing about the EWS though is that all of its features need to be used so it’s capability will be maximized, not like the case of the SPS-65 for example where it also has the ability to handle an Internal Jammer and a Missile Warning System (MWS), but these does not seem to have been activated on our FA-50PH as far as I know.

The same case with the EWS-39 where it has the ability to integrate a Laser Warning System (LWS) and an MWS, but those were not included in the JAS-39C/D that Hungary got.30

Activating all the features will increase the cost of the aircraft, but I think it is worth it to optimize its survivability, especially for an older model like the JAS-39C/D. If cost concerns will prevent us from getting them sooner, then we should try to get all of them later.

’Parting Shot’
Just to summarize the above items thus far:
– The JAS-39C/D has around the same Payload on full internal fuel as the FA-50PH, but significantly less than that of the F-16V.
– It also seems to have less range than the FA-50PH using internal fuel only and at maximum payload, but it does have AAR and carry larger EFTs.
– It has significantly less range using the same parameters compared to the F-16V.
– The JAS-39C/D’s radar is theoretically much better than that of the FA-50PH, but it doesn’t have as much range and lacks some qualities like stealth of the F-16V’s AESA radar.
– It arguably has the best BVRAAM in the world right now in the Meteor which could be the herald of the next generation of such types of missiles, but will need the support of an AEWC aircraft to take full advantage of its range.
– Its EWS has one additional feature compared to the one used on the FA-50PH, but all of its features needs to be activated and used to take full advantage of its capabilities.

At this point I have decided to cut this short and just continue it in another blog since it is already getting too long for comfort. Although the JAS-39C/D has its share of deficiencies, it does have another trick up its sleeve which we shall see in the second part.

Bottom view of a JAS-39C Gripen aircraft. Photo courtesy of Saab AB.

SOURCES:


  1. DND Likely to Acquire Swedish-made Fighter Jets,
    (https://archive.fo/kmo5v
  2. ADAS 2018 Observations and Highlights,
    (https://archive.fo/24mLH
  3. Further Facts on JAS 39 Gripen,
    (https://archive.fo/LtBnx
  4. Flight Global’s World Air Forces 2018,
    (https://www.flightglobal.com/asset/21905/waf/
  5. Further Facts on JAS 39 … 
  6. Gripen C in Brief,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181110224927/https://saab.com/globalassets/gripen.com/downloads/gripen_c_factsheet.pdf
  7. F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 70,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180907164804/https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/f-16.html
  8. Program Dossier: F-16 Fighting Falcon,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181107045552/http://aviationweek.com/site-files/aviationweek.com/files/uploads/2014/09/asd_10_02_2014_F16program.pdf
  9. Program Dossier: JAS-39 Gripen,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180719233955/http://aviationweek.com/site-files/aviationweek.com/files/uploads/2014/09/asd_09_25_2014_jas7.pdf
  10. KAI FA-50,
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXauYBgqnHw
  11. Gripen Surpasses 100,000 Flight Hours – Volvo Aero’s Engine Safest in the World,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140110084849/http://www.vfsco.com/financialservices/hungary/hu-hu/news_media/_layouts/CWP.Internet.VolvoCom/NewsItem.aspx?News.ItemId=36253&News.Language=en-gb
  12. General Electric Aviation F110, F404 and F414 Engines,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181107043853/https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/www-academia-edu-19513654-ge_defence.pdf
  13. F-14’s Jet Engines,
    (https://archive.fo/UphW
  14. The Proposal for the Acquisition of New Tactical Fighter Aircraft (Slovak Republic),
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181107044236/https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/2018_slovakia_f16c-jas39c_eval-english-complete.pdf
  15. MBDA To Show New Munitions in Singapore,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180817124828/https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2018-02-03/mbda-show-new-munitions-singapore#
  16. Python 5 and New Weapons Developed by Korea for FA-50,
    (https://archive.fo/TWF5
  17. FA-50PH Scale Model armed with Derby Missiles at the Asian Defence and Security (ADAS) 2016 Trade Show,
    (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rafael_Armed_FA-50PH.jpg
  18. Primed for Supremacy: PS-05/A Mk4 Fighter Radar,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181026164311/https://saab.com/globalassets/commercial/air/sensor-systems/fighter-radar/ps-05a/product_folder_ps-05-a-mk4.pdf
  19. Smarter (and Simpler) Radar in Harpoon,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20160313125508/http://clashofarms.com/files/smarter%20radars%20for%20hpn.pdf
  20. Smarter (and Simpler) Radar … 
  21. Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20171213140549/http://saab.com:80/air/weapon-systems/air-to-air-missile-systems/Meteor/
  22. Meteor,
    (https://archive.fo/w7xlZ
  23. The Pentagon Is Working on a New Air-to-Air Missile,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180125091613/http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/news/a28883/new-air-to-air-missile-amraam/
  24. The Pentagon Is Working on … 
  25. Understanding AESA: A Game-Changer in RADAR Technology,
    (https://archive.fo/RYLzR
  26. Stealth Threats and Anti-Stealth Techniques by Wg Cdr Konstantinos C. Zikidis,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181107042500/https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/stealththreatsandanti-stealthtechniques-wgcdrk-zikidishafaerox19feb2018.pdf
  27. Jane’s Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems 2001-2002 – Electronic Warfare Suite (EWS) 39 
  28. Spectrolite SPS-65V-5 Integrated Airborne Self Protection System,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20181107042839/http://elbitsystems.com/media/Spectrolite-SPS65V5.pdf
  29. Jane’s Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems 2001-2002 – Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS) AN/ALQ-213 
  30. JAS 39 Gripen in Air Operations,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180502113256/http://www.repulestudomany.hu/kulonszamok/2013_cikkek/2013-2-30-Jozsef_Horvath.pdf

27 thoughts on “The JAS-39C/D Gripen for the Philippine Air Force? – Part One”

  1. I dont think the Hungarian Gripens have MS20 yet, which offers significantly more capabilities than theirs in terms of electronic warfare and detection modes, as well as weapons integrations.

    I seem to raise an eyebrow from the massive discrepancy of the 113 minutes vs 12 minutes comparison in the Slovakian tests. There is absolutely no way that almost similarly sized planes with roughly marginal differences in internal fuel will have a 100-minute difference in terms of endurance. 12 minutes is almost on bingo fuel levels. I will actually believe it if the Gripen even had half of that endurance time. The Slovakian basis for the tests seem to be frowned upon as well, being only made public before the final decision was made. This had politics-and heavy handed ones in that.

    The Gripen frame is a newer one, and is considered to be drag efficient, hence owing to comparable combat radius values at least when compared to CFT-less F16 block 50 models despite still having less fuel internally. That is a point to be considered for range and endurance.

    I think Gripen C as MAWS already. laser warning system now, but it definitely has a missile approach warning system. For its class, it was hailed to be one of the better performers in teh 2006 Red Flag Exercises, citing their effective Electronic warfare systems. Look up Frisian flag as well as Spring Flag were it was reported to beat F-15C and F-16Cs from the USAF, as well as kills on Typhoons-a feat not easily done

    https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20869176/slovakia-to-buy-f-16-fighter-jets-what-is-wrong-with-the-ministrys-analysis.html

    Pay wall, but please consider reading.

    You also forgot to mention the directional datalink Gripens have.

    Finally, Excellent take on the Radar. The F-16V does have a definitively superior radar, even vs the PS-05 Mk4. However, the F-16 still has generally inferior weapons, and does not carry the METEOR. It also does not have the flexible weapons integration capabilities of the Gripen, and is for now, locked to mostly US weapons-something we do not want to be “locked” into. F-16V also does not carry anti ship missiles, which we definitely need given our archipelagic nature, and high probability of us getting attacked by ships, as we are surrounded by water. I’ll put it this way-what good is a gun, if your ammo is crap? Sure, the F-16 is the slightly better “gun” with the radar, but the AMRAAM has long been considered the achilles heel of the USAF, and will be considerably inferior to the METEOR. No anti ship missiles means it cannot have a deterring presence over sea. The Gripen is the slightly inferior “gun” but has technically better “bullets” in my opinion.

    I really appreciate as well you being fairly objective in underscoring the pros and cons. A real refreshing thing to read in the sea of ignorant people here. If you have not noticed already, I am a big Gripen supporter and feel that its dynamic nature and flexibility and practicality, while maintaining high class performance outweigh the deficiencies it may have. Thank you sir.

    1. * To tell you the truth … I have doubts also about the range and endurance mentioned in the Slovak study as well. The JAS-39C/D actually has a much higher IFF if we consider its EFTs. But range equations with EFTs is more complicated since more drag is involved, and I don’t have enough data to compute for the Breguet Equation for range right now. Also the Slovak study was done by their government, and since I don’t have sufficient data to counter that yet so I will just take it as it is for now until I do.

      * The EWS-39 supposedly have MAWS capability as per Jane’s (thru their Jane’s Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems 2001-2002) but it didn’t seem to have been installed on the Hungarian Gripens: https://web.archive.org/web/20180502113256/http://www.repulestudomany.hu/kulonszamok/2013_cikkek/2013-2-30-Jozsef_Horvath.pdf

      * No the F-16 is qualified for the AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile, and a couple of other Anti Ship missiles, actually: http://www.f-16.net/f-16_armament_article12.html

      * Thanks, I like the F-16V’s AESA radar, wished the JAS-39C/D had it. I liked best its stealth quality, very advantageous in BVR combat. But the Gripen has the Meteor for now …

      1. Hello sir! I’m glad you responded!

        I stand corrected then for the F-16 and anti shipping. However, I was also in ADAS (on my own. You prolly saw me one way or another in the Gripen display. I actually went there on a solo personal thing), and I think they will also offer the RBS-15 mk4 gungnir at around 300++km ranges if I recall correctly, and is technically one of the more advanced offerings right now.

        Radar on the V is really, really good. period. It takes a lot of bleed tech from raptors and lightning iis. I think the PS-05 is rumored to get a mk5 with AESA option in the future, but we still need to get official confirmation.

        Honestly I really would have preferred the E Gripen, but the C is an excellent, realistic, and less “strings attached” option. The swing role capability and the quality of life and practicality bonuses, plus the flexible deployment really endeared me to it. Remember, we are pushing for what is BEST for US, not the BEST POSSIBLE thing(If we really needed the best non american multirole, i’d go for the Rafale, but Gripen E is sorta better than it in some respects).

        Finally, I think the F-16V, while a powerful aircraft, is not the one for us. I do not want the ph to be tied to any superpower, regardless which of the three it is.It does not support rugged operations, which we will be doing since we are not exactly well endowed with a ton of high class facilities.

        Looking forward to your reply sir!

      2. * I agree the Gripen E/F would have been the best for us. It has similar capabilities as the F-16V, but also the Dispersed Operations capability of the Gripen series. If only it had gone into service much sooner.

        * The RBS-15 is great because it is multi purpose, can be used for Land Attack or Anti-Ship, giving us a lot of flexibility with just one missile model. Longer ranged, too, than most missiles of similar roles out there.

        * Good if the Gripen C/D can be upgraded with an AESA radar in the future, but nothing concrete about that so far, and added cost for us. But still, if it will available in the future then why not …

    1. No, Randy, “Percent” by definition is “one part in every hundred”, meaning the conversion rate is 100. So if you say “150%”, it means 1.5. “120%” means 1.2, and “50%” means 0.5, and so on and so forth.

      1. Hello all

        Thanx for very comprehensive summary!

        Marketing shall always be challenged but just provide some insights in radar technology; Saab is today one of the frontiers in GAN technology for radar and their success are to an extent given by GigaHertz centre at Chalmers university.

        High power do not solely provide the detection range, instead it is about waveform generation, signal sensitivity and signal processing!

        Saab has upgraded the RPU giving significantly improved computer power performance (>TOps) allowing more advanced algorithms for detecting targets. In essence it’s about how to characterise/filter out clutter. Also new advances in how to digitally form the transmitted radar signal to provide higher probability of detection.

        Secondly the receiver performance have been greatly improved. According to Saab the noise level in the system were hard to measure due to test equipment were not available on the market at the time!

        Exact numbers about performance , and how Saab has implemented these algorithms are of course highly classified but, a number of white papers are available Saab/chalmers university giving more insights about radar technologies

        Br StefanN

    1. I see what you mean there, Randy. But if you read the text related to the graphic, it doesn’t say that the acquisition range increased by that much. The text says:

      “EXTENDED AIR-TO-AIR OPERATING RANGE
      A new Air-to-Air mode is introduced that takes full advantage of the signal processing capacity and the flexible waveform generation of the PS-05/A Mk4. This mode increases acquisition range by 100% at low altitudes and 40% at high altitudes compared to the previous version of PS-05/A. This radar mode is also useful for detection of targets with very low RCS. The acquisition range in the legacy Air-to-Air modes is improved by 20 – 50%. The Meteor missile downlink is optimised to maintain radar performance during long-range data linking scenarios.”

      Also from a practical point of view, a 300 km range for a 5 m^2 RCS target would make its radar more powerful than that of the F/A-22A which I think is very unlikely since the Gripen C/D radar doesn’t have as much power output and as large an Antenna Size as that of the Raptor: https://rhk111smilitaryandarmspage.wordpress.com/exact-aircraft-radar-ranges/

      1. I agree with Sir. As much as I want the Gripen to have that range, it simply is not possible from the size of the PS-05. At best, I can prolly say it can reach a max of 210-240 absolute max detection.Theradar just is not big enough.

        the 300 class detection range is only for Raptor/Eagle/Flanker/Tomcat sized antennas, and even then, in order for these to hit that absolute max, some AESA units have to narrow down their scanning beam to achieve it.

      2. Here is my interpretation to that text…it says PS-05/A Mk.4 (2017) acquisition range at high altitude had increased by 40% from previous version which is the PS-05/A Mk. 3 (2015), but Mk.3 (2015) is +80% from Mk.3 (2014), see calculation below:
        PS-05/A Mk.3 (2014) detection range = 120km
        PS-05/A Mk.3 (2015) detection range = (120 x 1.80) = 216km
        Then;
        PS-05/A Mk.4 (2017) detection range = (216 x 1.40) = 299.6 or 300km

      3. I have given you 2 versions of calculation with the same result, 300km air-to-air detection range.

        1. Based on the illustration, detection range = “X” plus (+) 150%, where “X”=120km, hence, [120 + (150% x 120)] = 300km <—- the one you are saying improvements not cumulative

        2. Based on the text where it says PS-05/A Mk.4 (2017) acquisition/detection range at high altitude had increased by 40% from previous version PS-05/A Mk. 3 (2015), where Mk.3 (2015) is plus (+) 80% from Mk.3 (2014), with calculations below:
        PS-05/A Mk.3 (2014) detection range = 120km = "X"
        PS-05/A Mk.3 (2015) detection range = [120 + (80% x 120)] = 216km
        Then;
        PS-05/A Mk.4 (2017) detection range = (216 x 1.40) = 299.6 or 300km

        Still not convince?

  2. Interesting article with good comments. The Gripen has its merits, obviously.

    But I ask, can we look to Sweden to help defend the Philippines against the aggression it already is encountering in the West Philippine Sea? Sweden has no mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, unlike the United States.

    A neutralist approach for the Philippines makes every sense, except in the case where it is the sovereignty of the Philippines itself that is under assault. That situation already obtains.

    Concerns regarding interoperability don’t much apply in the case of this purchasing decision. And I can understand Pres. Duterte’s anger regarding the hold U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin placed on the PNP’s M-4 purchase. The Philippines need not and should not be at the mercy of U.S. self-appointed “social justice warriors” for access to supplies of small arms or other commodities it needs for its defense.

    But the fact remains that, even with a squadron of Gripen, the independence and sovereignty of the Philippines will continue to rest ultimately on the might of the U.S. Seventh Fleet and U.S. willingness to intervene in the Philippines’ behalf. Though a political intangible, the chance for such intervention grows or diminishes as the ties between the two countries lengthen or shorten.

    A challenge for the Philippines has long been how to maintain its independence from the United States. That historical baggage hasn’t gone away. But against that the Philippines also must balance its paradoxical need for the United States to continue to serve as the final guarantor of its independence.

    That relationship is a deep one and doesn’t hang in the balance on this deal. But given that so much rides on it, neither should it be taken lightly. It should be factored into every statement and decision we make, when too scant, at present, is the recognition that it even exists.

    1. Good points, Richard. I agree that in a fight against a superpower like China, the Philippines will really need the US’ help. China is a formidable opponent, for example, they have around 276 J-11/Su-27/30/35 Flanker type aircraft and 236 J-10 aircraft as per Flight Global’s 2018 World Air Forces, a lot more than the Philippines have or will likely have.

      However, there is one major complication with the US when it comes to the Philippines and the South China Sea (SCS), and that is the fact that they do NOT recognize the Philippines’ territories in the SCS. Because of this, they really cannot commit fully to helping the Philippines when it comes to the SCS, and it puts us in a huge dilemma on what to do with this issue …

    2. Good question.

      As a neutral country, I do not think that outside of interoperability and a form of economic and arms partnership, Sweden must maintain its neutrality, hence not being able to lend us some help. They already have another superpower literally in their doorstep, so this is definitely not possible.

      Let’s be honest here, SAAB is selling the Gripen to us and potentially other products, to make profit-not to save us or whatever. That is the point. However, the reason why I favor the Gripen is because of exactly that-the neutrality that its parent nation offers. If we purchase the F16V, there will be a TON of “strings” that will be attached, and it will make us go back to square one in terms of reliance.

      The sooner we build a credible deterrent, one that will not defeat the threat of a superpower, but will use up their resources enough for them to reconsider, is well worth it. 24-36 Gripen C/D, then hopefully 36 more Gripen E will be a favorable and formidable opponent, especially if we have METEOR and RBS-15MK4.

      Of course, this is why Duterte is doing what he is doing. He is giving each superpower some form of acknowledgement, hence making each have their own limited support for us, while enabling us to lean to one if ever another does something wrong or questionable.

      I am not particularly knowledgeable in geo-politics, but the more allies we make within our region, as well as establish a form of military partnership and mutual protection, we can somehow, most likely, be more protected from any superpower’s action.

      That being said, if any superpower turns on any smaller nation in Asia, nothing outside of a joint action involving multiple defending nations will be able to stop one.

      However, the US Navy has been losing its teeth for a while now. The delays of the F-35 continue to bog it down, while the Super Hornet, despite being good, still will not be up to par with aircraft with superior weapons (Gripens with METEOR)

    3. MDT will still be in place even if Philippines decides to buy Gripen, it is not like we will abrogate the treaty upon acquiring the aircraft . In an event of conflict, Sweden will never be required to defend us against our enemies, we only need them (SAAB) to provide the platform and weapons required to make the latter effective. And the US is still our closest ally, the main reason behind the possible acquisition of Gripen is because of budgetary constraint and not necessarily Pres. Duterte’s personal animosity with the US (which started with the Obama administration). The US offered F-16V and it is still on the table, but I believe DND will not accept this offer without any financing assistance (or possibly subsidies) from the US due to its higher acquisition and operation cost.

      In the event that China invades the Philippines, even without MDT (hypothetical), the US will still be forced intervene due to the Philippines’ strategic importance. The US and its other Asian allies cannot afford to cede the Philippines to China’s control and seal off the entire south china sea disrupting economic activities (trade routes) of nearby countries and their trade partners (that includes the US). I believe this is the reason why US military planners see a likely conflict with China in the near future. The strategic location/importance of the Philippines is its most valuable bargaining chip, hence, the Philippines should capitalize on this simple fact to get more military support from the US. If the US wants greater access (military bases) to the country, then US should give the support we need to modernize our armed forces and give its solid commitment to defend our territory including our claims in the West Philippine Sea. If the US could give billions and billions of military aid to Israel and Egypt, so why not the Philippines as well? Naive people will then say Philippines is acting like a mendicant, no we are not, we are only reasonably asking for what this country really worth. Otherwise, the Philippines will probably be another province of the People’s Republic of China.

      Ever wonder why Japan is giving so much support (financial and military) to the Philippines recently? It is because they know they are also in it for the rough ride if the Philippines falls on Chinese hands.

  3. Aw, fakk, Randy Espina, you may be right, or mostly right, anyway. I double checked Saab’s claims using the OTHER figure, the one where the range is the same but the RCS is different for various targets, then made calculations based on that.

    And the result is … Yes, Saab is claiming that the PS-05A Mk4 radar can detect a 4 m^2 RCS target at 241 km.

    I used the formula, R2 = [(RCS1/RCS2)^(1/4)]*(R1), using R1 = 96 km and RCS1 = 4 m^2, derived from Range = 102 km for an RCS of 5 m^2. Also, RCS2 = 0.1 m^2

    I am using 102 km @ 5 m^2 for the PS-05 Mk4 since I have not personally seen the data claim for the 120 km @ 5 m^2 for the PS-05.

    But frankly … I find it hard to believe Saab’s claims. The PS-05A Mk4 only has a maximum Power Output of 10 kW while the AN/APG-77 of the F/A-22 Raptor has a Power Output of 20 kW, and they are saying that the PS-05A Mk4 can almost match the performance of the AN/APG-77?!!

    And look at the Antenna Size:
    – PS-05 = 0.6 m
    – AN/APG-77 = 1 m

    I can only scratch my head at that. I may have to rewrite my blog now, though …

    1. You know what, some so-called experts (including an actual PAF pilot) on radar technology are actually saying AESA is just a hype, there are still pros and cons between AESA and advance pulse doppler radars like PS-05/A Mk.4. According to them, AESA is new technology but not really the holy grail of radars.

      But it only make sense for PS-05/A Mk.4 to have that detection range in order to guide the long range METEOR missile which is said to have a range of around 300km(!).

      1. Well all fighter aircraft pathways are going AESA if they can. Even the next generation of BVRAAMs will be AESA. I expect the Meteor to have an AESA future in its path.

        I’m not convinced about Saab’s claim about their Mk 4, but since they put it out there, then okay, I will take it for now.

    2. I think we should stick first to the 240km range, as it is the more believable one.

      Well it sorta makes sense to match the range of your radar with your best BVR missile, so if ever, the radar will have to focus its beam in a way to reach that max range, but will reduce its peripheral scanning in order to do so? I am not sure, but still impressive nonetheless.

  4. Okay all, give me some time to revise the blog to reflect the change in the Gripen’s radar range. I still have a lot of reservations about Saab’s claims of the PS-05A Mk 4’s range as highlighted by Randy, but I am not really in position to seriously challenge it.

    I only have basic knowledge of Radar Technology, enough to think that there MIGHT be something wrong about Saab’s claims, but not enough to really rule it out.

    It will take several experts in Radar Technology to challenge or maybe confirm what Saab is saying, but until that happens then I will accept Saab’s claims of the PS-05A Mk 4’s range for now …

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