Jagerflyene fylder rigtig meget her på bloggen lige nu. Dels fordi SAS ikke blev solgt og der derfor er rimelig stille på den front, dels fordi dansk politik er dødsygt lige nu og dels fordi jeg har været ude og kontakte nogle folk på jagerfly-fronten.
Bortset fra S og R, der som bekendt har vendt tilbage, så er der rimelig meget radiotavshed fra de øvrige partiers forsvarsordførere, der således ikke har vendt tilbage på mine spørgsmål.
Men så er det godt at Boeing er kommet ud af busken – efter en lille rykker. Jeg har som bekendt tidligere fyret en salve spørgsmål af til Saab om Gripen-flyet, og nu er det så Boeing og deres bidrag F-18 Super Hornet der kommer i den varme stol.
F-18’eren er jo den tredje kandidat (JSF og Gripen de to andre, hvis nogen skulle være i tvivl) i kapløbet om at blive F-16’erens afløser – hvis ikke politikerne vælger “kujon-løsningen” og levetidsforlænger de gamle F-16’ere. Men en meget stille (og overset) kandidat, der meldte sig ind i racet meget sent og ikke har gjort et stort væsen ud af sig. Men i disse krisetider kan F-18’eren gå hen og vise sig at blive en dark horse med stærke kort på hånden. Som den eneste af de tre flyver den i dag og prisen er derfor så godt som klippefast.
Nå men lad os se hvad de gode Boeing-folk har at sige:
A:What are the F/A-18’s major advantages compared to the other two contenders in the race?
o The Super Hornet is a combat-proven fighter ready today with capabilities of tomorrow.
o The Super Hornet incorporates the mature Boeing JSF avionics suite through a high-bandwidth optical network within its integrated forebody.
o The Super Hornet is the first operationally deployed strike fighter possessing next-generation capabilities. It was fielded with the Raytheon-built APG-79 AESA radar in 2006.
o The two-seat variant of the F/A-18F with AESA radar gives the Super Hornet unsurpassed war fighting capability. The aft seat using the capable sensor package opens new roles for other services; e.g. of pollution monitoring for the Coast Guard, directing air support of ground troops for the Army, ISR for the Navy. Having the capability of forward controlling of UAV’s and UCAV’s makes it perfect for future technologies.
o The AESA radar and precision targeting and sensing system that can network seamlessly in the current and future battlefield naturally allows the single-seat F/A-18E to perform all tasks, however, adding an extra crew member with another skill set leverages the capability.
o Many of the advanced technologies that are operational on the Super Hornet today, such as the AESA radar, are only long-term, developmental promises being made by many other aircraft manufacturers.
o The Super Hornet is the world’s most advanced, combat-proven, multi-role strike fighter in production today and for the foreseeable future. It offers a winning solution for Denmark’s fighter requirement because of its low cost and project risk, unsurpassed warfighting capability, availability, advanced technology, high mission readiness, small logistics footprint, and industrial benefit.
A: What makes the F/A-18 especially good for the Danish air force and the tasks they carry out?
o The Super Hornet presents a good balance of capability and cost. The Super Hornet is the most capable weapons system in the air today and for the foreseeable future
o There is virtually no project risk with the Super Hornet – it is a combat-proven fighter ready today with capabilities of tomorrow.
o The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a completely new integrated platform and systems at the beginning of its life cycle.
o The Super Hornet program has always delivered on or ahead of schedule, and on or below cost – no surprises.
o The Super Hornet, with its small logistics footprint and high mission readiness, is designed to serve on land as well as on an aircraft carrier, making it a perfect choice for Denmark.
o The U.S. Navy will continue to invest in the airplane adding capability while decreasing cost over its lifetime
A: What will be the total life-cycle cost for 48 F/A-18’s for the Danish air force?
o There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when quoting a price for a foreign military sale; we are very competitive based upon information available in open sources. We anticipate that an offering of unit fly-away to an international customer will be well below $60M, however price is a function of customer requirements.
o The U.S. Navy and Boeing have worked together to design the Super Hornet to be a fighter that won’t see a scheduled visit to a maintenance depot until it has clocked a minimum of 6,000 hours of flying time. Until then, scheduled maintenance often consists of little more than checking the tires, refueling the aircraft, and cleaning the windshield. Moreover, the Super Hornet’s two General Electric F414-GE-400 engines are a model of performance and reliability. Should an engine need to be replaced, Super Hornet ground crews can change one out in as little as 30 minutes. All of this, coupled with the demonstrated reliability and ease of maintenance of the Super Hornet’s avionics and airframe systems, adds up to lower life cycle costs over the aircraft’s life span, and makes the Super Hornet a more dependable and affordable combat fighter than its competitors.
A: How will you put together the required industrial participation program?
o We are looking at many business opportunities in Denmark. We are focusing on long-term, viable business partnerships that create mutual win-win business plans. Our areas of focus are advanced technology, defense, aerospace, and homeland security.
o Boeing has an unmatched reputation for delivering world-class industrial cooperation programs in countries around the world and fully intends to continue that in Denmark. In conjunction with the Hornet Industry Team (comprised of Boeing, General Electric, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman) and the engagement of our entire supply chain, Boeing plans to establish a well-balanced industrial cooperation program, consisting of opportunities with the defense, aerospace, and homeland security sectors, along with advanced technologies, which will bring long-term benefits to Danish industry.
A: Do you already have agreements with Danish companies? Who and to what amount?
o We discuss tangible projects with many Danish companies; we recently presented 73 projects to the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs. We have a memorandum of understanding with Terma.
o We have committed to deliver an industrial cooperation program according to the Danish rules (100%)
A: You decided to participate in the Danish competition, but not in the Norwegian. Why not?
o We are active in many markets, e.g. India, Brazil, Japan, and many more. We did meet with Norway in February to understand their requirements, but the Super Hornet is not part of the competition in Norway at this time.
A: You have sold 360 planes for the US Navy, but if we were to send Danish F-18’s to Afghanistan or the Middle East 10 or 20 years from now, we will be met at the foreign airbases by JSF-planes from the US Airforce. Wouldn’t that be a problem that we don’t have the same planes?
o It is no problem at all – there is and will be full compatibility with JSF. Current plans are for the Super Hornet and F-35 to operate side by side in the U.S. Navy fleet until 2030 and beyond.
o The Super Hornet will continue to be
a core element of the future U.S. force structure; it is not being replaced by the F-35.
o The Super Hornet continues to reduce cost while exponentially expanding capability through an integrated and funded roadmap of upgrades and Boeing re-investments in design, production and support, providing a long-term future in the United States Navy for decades to come.
Bare fordi vi ikke har hørt meget til dem i den offentlige debat eller på pr-siden (Er i jævnlig kontakt med PR-folk med relation til de to andre kandidater, men har aldrig hørt fra nogen der har noget med F-18’eren at gøre), så skal man ikke undervurdere F-18’erens muligheder. Især ikke hvis politikerne er lidt nervøse for at lave en ny “indkøbsskandale” ved at vælge et fly, der slet ikke er færdigudviklet endnu. Jeg ved godt at det prædikat oftest primært sættes på JSF, men det gælder altså også for den særlige Next Generation-udgave af Gripen, som svenskerne tilbyder. Når levetidsforlængelse åbenbart stadig er en del af såvel oppositionen som forsvarsministerens ordforråd, så tror jeg bestemt ikke man skal afskrive den mulighed der hedder at købe nye fly, men købe de fly der er mindst risiko forbundet med med hensyn til levering, pris og drift, nemlig F-18.
Jeg har tidligere forsøgt mig med nogle vurderinger af vinderchancerne, hvor JSF lå stabilt på 70 pct. chance for at løbe med ordren. Hvordan oddsene er nu er svært at sige, men mon ikke JSF stadig er svag favorit. Så lad os sige; JSF (35%), Gripen (30%), F-18 (25%) og levetidsforlængelse (10%).