Leaked to the Swiss weekly Le Matin Dimanche , two confidential Swiss Air Force reports conclude that the Swedish-made Gripen combat aircraft does not meet minimal air policing requirements, contrary to declarations made last November by Defense Minister Ueli Maurer who said the Gripen “satisfied Swiss military requirements.”
And also interestingly I was alerted to this by Brazilian media reports which, with a decision to be made soon in their own nation's combat aircraft tender, are closely watching the goings-on in Switzerland and are carefully reading Indian documents tracing the path they took to choosing the Rafale.
The Swiss air force documents, dated November 9, 2009, say that that the tests were undertaken in 2008 with the old generation of Gripen which has a less powerful engine and far less equipment than the Gripen-NG (new generation). But the second report takes into account the upgrades of 98 items (engine, radar etc.) and concludes that the Gripen “is still not able to compete with the two other candidates. It never reaches the 'Meet Minimum Expected Capabilities' in all type of missions.”
Both documents are signed by Air Force Commander Markus Gygax and are in English. Their authenticity is not in doubt. Ares has read them and you can too as PDFs .
What particularly troubles the Swiss is that the mission the Gripen scored the worst on is the only one that the Swiss air force is certain it will have to undertake: protecting the sovereignty of its airspace. The Swedish aircraft only scored 5.33 out of 10 on this mission, well beneath the minimum 6 required by the air force. Gripen's low score overall on this mission was the result of three counter-performances: slow “quick reaction alert” on which it scored 4.7, insufficient flight performance (5.5) and nowhere near enough endurance (3.8). Six was the minimum requirement for all three tests. Eurofighter Typhoon scored 6.48 overall and the Rafale 6.98 on this air policing requirement.
Le Matin Dimanche reports that moral is low at the Swiss procurement agency Armasuisse and in the air force's evaluation teams who claim that Gripen got its score of 6 only on financial criteria. My conjecture is that not much arm-twisting was required by the newspaper to obtain these confidential air force reports.
In the first report the evaluation team writes that “among the three... candidates, the Rafale was the aircraft which demonstrated the best effectiveness and suitability in the accomplishment of all types of Air-to-Air missions, Recce and Strike missions. In addition, the Rafale made the best impression to the pilots.”
“The Eurofighter was able to fulfill all Mission Essential Tasks required by Air-to-Air missions. Hence in the Air-to-Air domain, there were several deficiencies that prevented a good execution of some mission essential tasks. The a/c performances (super cruise at Mach 1.4) were among the strong point of the Eurofighter. The sensors data fusion and the EW suite performances can be mentioned among the weak points...the capabilities of the Eurofighter to fulfill Recce and Strike missions were rated as unsatisfactory.”
“Based on test flight results, the Rafale is the candidate which fulfill all Swiss Air Force requirements and ended with the best score recommended as new fighter for the Swiss Air Force. The Eurofighter is the best alternative to the Rafale.”
That conclusion seems fairly clear and explains the disappointment and low morale in the Swiss airforce and at Armasuisse. They haven't got what they really wanted.