JAS-39 Gripen able to vie US F-16 Blk 70 for Asian deal win

Because the race to win the contract to produce Thailand with the Gripen E and F-16 Block 70 heats up, it begs the query of which choice Thailand is extra doubtless to decide on. Remarkably, each these choices got here into the image after Thailand didn’t safe the F-35, a fifth-generation fighter. 

Picture by Sgt Müller Marin

Thai Air Drive Chief Marshal Phanpakdi Patankul sheds gentle on this, suggesting that each the Gripen E and F-16 Block 70 current essentially the most practical alternate options because the buy of the F-35 appears inconceivable. He notes, “We now have narrowed down our choices to the Gripen-E and the F-16 Block 70 since buying the F-35 has proved to be a powerful job.” He made these remarks on Saturday, March 23, 2024. 

The order seeks to cater to the wants of three squadrons which might be at present flying older plane. Apparently, every squadron in Thailand possesses twelve fighter plane. 

At Mach 1.9, the F-16 rapidly reduces speed and quivers - US pilot
Picture credit score: USAF

When it comes to the procurement course of, the Bangkok Publish studies that Thailand, sometimes called the “Land of the White Elephant,” will start procurement in levels beginning October 2024. The method begins with procuring the primary 4 models, adopted by subsequent models in a phased method. 

Notably, Thailand has an present arsenal of fifty models of the older variant of the F-16, the F-16 A/B. Out of those, 36 are allotted to fight operations, whereas the remaining 14 are for coaching functions. Moreover, Thailand acquired twelve Gripen jets again in 2008. 

On the producers’ entrance, Lockheed Martin reveals that the F-16 Block 70 can considerably increase the fight prowess of the Thai Air Drive. The F-16 Block 70 has undergone main upgrades and is touted to match the capabilities of the F-22 Raptor and F-35. A consultant from Lockheed Martin earlier expressed in March, “We strongly consider that the F-16 Block 70 will increase the Thai Air Drive’s capabilities whereas delivering next-generation efficiency to match the nation’s protection necessities.” 

Give Ukraine a Gripen, the F-16 can't give what the Swede can
Picture credit score: RSAF

In distinction, SAAB is assured that its Gripen E’s design will appeal to important consideration in Southeast Asia. Robert Björklund, a consultant from the producer, revealed that the most recent Gripen is predicted to outperform its predecessor. Extra importantly, backed by immense assist from the UK, he expressed optimism about promoting 20 models of the Gripen E to Thailand. He added, “A collaborative effort between Sweden and the UK is geared toward providing essentially the most superior capabilities for the Thai Air Drive.” 

Former British Overseas Secretary David Cameron was reportedly impressed by the efficiency of Thailand’s Gripen fleet throughout a go to to a Thai Air Drive squadron. As of 2016, the Royal Thai Air Drive operated eight JAS 39Cs and 4 JAS 39Ds. After considered one of these jets crashed, they have been left with 11 Gripens. Nonetheless, in October 2013, the Thai authorities introduced plans to accumulate six extra Gripens. 

On paper, the Gripen E seems to have the higher hand over the F-16 Block 70. The principle distinction lies of their respective radar techniques. The Gripen E is provided with the state-of-the-art Raven ES-05 Lively Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] radar, delivering enhanced ranges and monitoring capabilities, whereas the F-16 Block 70 is fitted with the AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar [SABR] AESA radar. 

Revival: Poland's ambitious mid-life overhaul for 48 F-16 fighters
Picture credit score: Reddit

The Gripen E incorporates a distinctive “network-centric warfare” characteristic, permitting seamless communication with different allied models, be they on the bottom, air, or sea. The F-16 Block 70, though technologically superior, lacks this operate. 

In the case of weaponry, the Gripen E’s arsenal is extra numerous than that of the F-16 Block 70, able to carrying a big range of missiles and bombs. Moreover, the Gripen E boasts a shorter takeoff and touchdown distance, ultimate for operations from smaller or compromised airfields. The F-16 Block 70, nevertheless, requires extra runway area. 

Lastly, the Gripen E has been designed to make sure minimal operational and upkeep prices, going simple on the finances for a lot of international locations. The F-16 Block 70 is cost-effective too, however usually incurs greater working and maintenance prices.


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