Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

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Flanker2
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Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by Flanker2 » 24 Feb 2014, 02:45

They chose the right aircraft for their missions, they save money and it's gorgeous.
Nothing to say but bravo.

And now... let's get Sabca workshare and/or a license to build on the PAK FA instead of wasting money on the useless F35... Politics is about money, and the USA didn't include Belgium in the F35 program, and it turns out the aircraft is a sitting target even for 4th generation aircraft.
Without any other 5th generation fighter program within reach, the PAK FA seems to be the obvious choice for the Belgian airforce.

flieger
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by flieger » 24 Feb 2014, 09:08

@flanker2
So you read in the media that the F35 has issues. But a Russian built PAK FA would not have issues, or may'be Russians rather keep that information inside?
Also, ever seen a NATO FOUNDING member deciding on Russian airframes?
That would never happen.
And as politicians, who know nothing about military or aviation will again be involved in this replacement of the F16 saga, it won't happen quick. Some, like this Mr. Crombez think F16 will keep on flying forever, because other countries still have them too. However, he is blind to see we have A and B types produced in the 70's with a mid-life upgrade in the 90's...
They won't fly forever.
If Belgium would be seeking a replacement and a good deal, they could go for the FA18.
Boeing is seeking ways to extend production beyond 2016, Australia and now possibly Canada too decided on the FA18 because of the overspending and delays in the F35 program.
So value for money, this won't be bad. Belgium doesn't need a 5th generation fighter if it is of the cost of the F35. Indeed, as you state, it has already been outperformed during Red Flag trainings by 4th, even 3rd generation fighters...
Saab Gripen is also a cost effective choice, but may'be unlikely for Belgium to happen.
We should look at NATO members and not look only at ourselves. Also for the airlift and training capacity, there is a lot of cross-collaboration. To some extend, this should happen on fighter aircraft too, especially given the costs involved...

Inquirer
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by Inquirer » 24 Feb 2014, 09:11

Belgium doesn't need fighters at all.
Troop transport and VIP transport like this A321: yes; but fighters are a waste of money really for which we have far more urgent needs.

flieger
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by flieger » 24 Feb 2014, 11:13

@inquirer:
Completely agree. One needs to look at the broader NATO/ EU picture and then, Belgian fighters become unnecessary... It should all be done in some joint alternative

eurojet
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by eurojet » 24 Feb 2014, 11:26

no fighter force needed? Bullshit ... If you want to have a little bit of weight in international affairs, it won't be with A400Ms and NH90 you will achieve it .. Libia, Afghanistan, Yougoslavia anyone...? Scandinavian countries, which you cannot call "war-lovers" also keep a defense force that includes an airborn weapon.. You want to keep the NATO and EU HQ in Brussels (with all the economic benefits it brings) but for simple things like QRA and air patrol you will ask the French or Dutch to do it during a NATO or EU summit ...? Let's see how long it will take the french to use this as an argument to move it all to Strasbourg. We host the NAT and EU, this brings responisbilities .. Additionally, we have an aerospace industry here in Belgium .. Unless you want them to specialise in re-painting Avro's or DHL planes with panda-logos, a seizable air force is essential to keep that industry alive as well.

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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by teddybAIR » 24 Feb 2014, 11:31

the relevant question might be if we want to continue to host these european summits...

eurojet
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by eurojet » 24 Feb 2014, 11:58

Love to see the provincialism of my dear compatriots confirmed ... But hey, we are the world's best in "veldrijden", insn't it ??? Glad I left it 15 years ago ...

Boavida
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by Boavida » 24 Feb 2014, 12:44

I completely agree with eurojet.

If we want to become totally irrelevant on the international level, than we have to scrap the fighter jets. Without fighter jets, the Belgian Air Force would simply vanish. You can't call yourself an Air Force with only a few (transport) helicopters and cargo planes! That would be ridiculous and Belgium would become the laughing stock of Europe.

The provincialism of some people in this country is indeed worrying. Belgium has 11 million inhabitants. That is MORE than Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Austria, etc..! Do people even realize this? Not territory counts but inhabitants. And Brussels is host city for EU and NATO. Ofcourse we're no 'major' power but we matter in Europe. So stop this calimero inferiority complex ("we're so small we don't need an air force") and let's be a bit ambitious for a change.

OFCOURSE Belgium needs new fighter jets. In Brussels a new multibillion dollar NATO headquarters is being built as we speak. If we want to remain a reliable NATO-partner we have to have fighter jet capability. Period. Thanks to our contribution in Afghanistan and Libya for example, our voice is heard and we are respected.

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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by teddybAIR » 24 Feb 2014, 14:45

hm, and what would be the purpose of your new fighter jets? Defend belgium against attacks from the Netherlands? Why would a logistical role make you the laughing stock of anybody? As a matter of fact: Europe is the laughing stock of the USA as the kosovo war proved that if there is one thing we don't have in check it is logistics. You can have all the fighters you want, if the logistics behind them don't follow, then all you'll have is a bunch of very expensive composite shapes on an aerodrome.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have any fighters at all, and I'm not even going to pretend that I would know which manufacturer would have the most appropriate fighter for a future belgian air force, but if one thing is clear then it is that the size of the different componants of an air force would need to be adapted to the role you expect it to fullfill.

That raises the question: do we want to send fighters to every future conflict zone? It sounds heroic, but let's be honest: I'd prefer that role to be played by the countries that dictate international policie and will reep the fruits of a conflict. the rest is top gun and nostalgia

flieger
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by flieger » 24 Feb 2014, 14:50

And since when is number of inhabitants more important than territory size?
Have you made the count that Germany has 89 Mio inhabitants and Belgium 11 Mio. Does the German airforce, apart from its Eurofighters seem a very capable force?? They cut budgets all the time. Most Tornados are grounded due to lack of spares and so are the inherited Mig 29's...
By the way, have you looked at the map where Scandinavia is? Which neighbours will protect them?
But Belgium is surrounded by the NL, the UK, France, Germany,... We live in a part of Europe where all borders are close.
A fighter force to impress? Don't think it really has so much appeal.
And by the way it weren't the Americans that excluded Belgium from the F35 program. Belgium excluded itself and its industry by not participating in this project in the early stages... as politicians are busy with other stuff here and think also that F16's will fly forever...
The choice was there, Belgium looked the other way. But those that did participate, like the Netherlands cannot really be called very happy right now either...

koja78
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by koja78 » 24 Feb 2014, 15:07

I think the decision should be based on TCO, return to the economy and capabilities.
Russian air frames are offcourse out of the question. I personally would think Gripen or Rafale (as we already have jet training together with France)... FA18 is a good idea too as it combines a good fighter with a good ground attack capability.. as the F16 did. Maybe Gripen and Rafale are lacking that.

How is the eurofighter doing btw?

teddybAIR
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by teddybAIR » 24 Feb 2014, 15:09

let's just be frank:

F16's can fly forever. The only condition not to render them obsolete is not to deliver your technology to non allied countries. Now, what do we see happening on a world scale? We see the US happy to export their technology and guess why: it's the only way they can support their multi-billion dollar defence industry: also deliver it to your enemy (with a little delay) and make sure that your own air force NEEDS your new technology.

I'm quite sure that technological pace in military aviation would be slower if it wouldn't be outsourced. And no, we wouldn't live in a worse world for that matter.

cnc
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by cnc » 24 Feb 2014, 17:52

Boavida wrote: If we want to become totally irrelevant on the international level, than we have to scrap the fighter jets. Without fighter jets, the Belgian Air Force would simply vanish. You can't call yourself an Air Force with only a few (transport) helicopters and cargo planes!
so following your point of view we don't have a navy since our navy is also mainly auxiliary and support.
we have a medical/transport ship, 2 fregat ships and 7? CMT mine hunters.
do we even still have tanks in the army?

Flanker2
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by Flanker2 » 24 Feb 2014, 19:34

Flieger, the F-18 has outlived its purpose (of replacing the F-14's) and even the Super Hornet wouldn't be of much use.

What are the threats and challenges in 2020-2050?
-increased use of UAV, improved with stealth capability
-5th generation aircraft that can come into anyone's territory unseen to destroy a target and disappear again
-improved radar and airborne early warning surveillance
-improved SAM systems
-hijacking (has always been and will continue to be an issue)
-cost of maintaining a large force
-universal technological advances

An F-18 wouldn't do Belgium any good, they might just as well take F-16E's, the marginal performance difference won't make a difference.
I think the decision should be based on TCO, return to the economy and capabilities.
Russian air frames are offcourse out of the question.
Why would it be of course out of the question? The cold war is over a long time ago now and it's not impossible that Russia will cooperate closer and closer with Europe in the future.
NATO is great and all, but if it costs more than it brings in, I don't see the point of buying American aircraft.
After all, Belgium is spending more money being part of NATO than any form of protection or partnership that NATO delivers.

For me Gripen and Rafale are out of the question. Their cold war era design no longer meet the needs of the future aerial combat requirements. It will take too much to keep them updated and performance-wise they are useless compared to aircraft such as the Eurofighter, Sukhoi's 4th generation jets and I'm not even sure they are up to the task against Chinese fighter aircraft.


I see real potential in the PAK FA and Belgium can play a major role if they play their cards right.
Russia can't convince many European countries to source Russian jets, but Belgium can convince other European countries and others to purchase it, if they are manufactured in Belgium.
Who wouldn't buy it if it has more capabilities than the F-35 and costs only half, while being able to win in visual range combat from an F22?

In addition, Belgium's expertise in CFRP manufacturing can play a major role in this program, as they can get workshare in the overall program.

I'm not saying Belgium should buy 100 PAk-FA's.
In fact, by getting a more capable aircraft, they can reduce their overall fleet to say about 30 aircraft.

At MAKS 2013, the PAK FA was flying some 8's in the sky far away from its actual capabilities (not sure whether it's due to reduce flight envelope during testing or just to keep everybody curious), but if you see some of its tighter turns, you can see that there is barely any deflection on the elevators.
Watch 07:58 in the following video's... at low speed, a small deflection, not even a full one and that things is pitching up 90 degrees like it's nothing... that should give any 4th gen fighter pilot the chills.

It's low wing loading makes it much more maneuvrable than any other fighter jet in existance.


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cathay belgium
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by cathay belgium » 25 Feb 2014, 00:00

What a fuzz about fighterjets? Look at our state debt and compare with the less crowded countries ;)
5 th generation ?
Be real, let's go for the real next generation : drones, no people involved and at risk at dangerous missons..
Give it a payload at your wish and we deliver the job, thats an air force of the next generation.
And for now : we have enough to be proud of with our A400M and some choppers for the coast national guard.
Just my idea... maybe not sexy and attractive for aviation fans but the future truth for sure ;)
SABCA and others can also earn on these..
Besides wasn't NATO at origin a union of states helping eachother when an outsider would attack ?
Help can be offered by jets but also with transport,logistics and drones ;)

CXB
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Flanker2
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by Flanker2 » 25 Feb 2014, 01:53

cathay belgium wrote:Be real, let's go for the real next generation : drones, no people involved and at risk at dangerous missons..
Ah you mean projects like Neuron, etc...

There is still a big problem with those projects... how do you deal with jamming? If you can cut the communications between the drone and the operator, that's all it takes: a 20$ transmitter.
Worse even, you can build an anti-drone drone the size of a tennis ball, launch it in the air and make it detect the frequencies, amplitude and signals it's sending and receiving. You can then decode the signals and send your own signals to take it over or even fry its onboard communication systems and ground receivers by sending strong pulses on the relevant frequencies...

Too many countries are currently focussing on skipping the 5th generation and going straight to a 6th generation unmanned vehicle. We might as well give the producer of Thunderbirds a call.

The reality is that there will always be a need for manned fighter aircraft.

flieger
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by flieger » 25 Feb 2014, 11:15

erm... Rafale and Gripen cold war designs? Do you know your history???
Btw, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter are same generation.
You call the Eurofighter capable and the Rafale outdated?
Have you seen Rafale's performance? Even Gripen's...
It outperformed F22, F35 and so on on red flags excercises etc...
And F18 does have a future, hence why multiple nations had to order them to perform tasks the F35 is apparently promising to deliver but failing to do.
Yes, big difference is the radar footprint the F18 does leave, completely agree...
But if Belgium has no money to spend on an extravagant jet like the F35, the F18 would be a good alternative to cover again many decades... As stated before, Boeing is seeking to extend the production run of it and therefore is more agressively looking for new and follow-on orders at attractive prices...
Cost effectivity would prove the Gripen to even be the best choice, especially with all surrounding systems Saab can provide with... They do not simply deliver Gripens. They offer full training and support, leasing of the airframes, a full defensive package with AEW capability, weaponry etc...

Producing a Russian airframe in Belgium, for an indeed mere 30 jet order is more than dreaming. Even if they would take more.
It is even unrealistic and unnecessary too... I really do not see how it can be called interesting...
Not even talking economics or politics, common sense dictates it is out of the question...

Boavida
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Re: Belgian Defence to replace its A330 by an A321

Post by Boavida » 25 Feb 2014, 13:47

flieger wrote:And since when is number of inhabitants more important than territory size?
Generally speaking, countries with a bigger population have a larger GDP (more consumers = bigger economy). Just compare the UK with Australia. Australia is much, much, bigger but the tiny UK has a larger population so it has more money to spend and it has a bigger military. That's simple logic.
cnc wrote: so following your point of view we don't have a navy since our navy is also mainly auxiliary and support.
True, unfortunately. With only 2 (second hand...) frigates and some old and rusty support ships we cannot speak of a real navy. That is why the Air Force is so important. The navy is too small to matter, the ground army will never be involved in some real action (because of politics, Belgian politicians will never allow Belgian ground troops in a real combat situation) so the ONLY force that matters in the Belgian military is the Air Force with its fighter jets. If you scrap this LAST one, we will no longer have a Belgian military. It's as simple as that.

Btw, there is a very interesting article today about this in De Standaard (Dutch): http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20140224_00997079

They also state the importance of new fighter aircraft for Belgian aviation industry.

Flanker2
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by Flanker2 » 25 Feb 2014, 14:14

I think that Belgium's role in the PAK FA would be as a proxy for sales in the Western world, not immediately as the largest operator. The production would hence be much more than 30 frames, as I could also see other European nations purchasing a small fleet of them each for domestic defense purposes. Just remember that the F22 is used mainly as a defense weapon and tactical attack aircraft in the U.S. and that is the main use of such an aircraft.

If Belgium offers it, I can see about 100 orders from across Europe and about 50 for the U.S. If they are quick enough, they might also convince Canada to take several, as they reopened their procurement, cancelling their previous F-35 purchase. Italy and The Netherlands have slashed back their F-35 purchases and Italy is facing a huge political opposition to the program which puts even their current order of 90 at risk.

The best customer for such Belgian-built Russian airframes would be ... the Americans.
They are very interested in the capabilities of the PAK FA and would certainly purchase a good deal from Belgium secretly or through a proxy, for their agressor squadron at Nellis AFB and for their secret test facility in Area 51... the Russians wouldn't mind either, as long as they have many more of them and the better radar.

As for Rafale outperforming the F22 or F35...that's something a French magazine published somewhere, I don't remember which one though. In training in the UAE, the F22 killed 2 Rafales before they were even aware it was there.

The Rafale design development started in the 1970's, as was the Gripen, so yes they are cold war era designs.

Drifter01
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Re: Which future fighter jet for Belgian Defence?

Post by Drifter01 » 25 Feb 2014, 15:27

If you want to buy fighters, you have to buy from a country that will not cause problems if ever you need to deploy them. Therefore Russian fighters, as attractive and good they are, is simply not an option. Do you think we could send Russian fighters to participate in Afghanistan or iraq?

Also, as a small country you need to make choices. It is beyond me that we still have a navy and hundreds of square kilometres of real estate. Divest and focus on core tasks. The political support is simply not there.

On the other hand, you do not need an F-35 or F-22 to go fight in areas such as Afghanistan, central Africa or other places. For needs beyond these theatres, there is NATO.

So a balanced decision between affordibility and possible scenarios will have to be made.

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