Pakistan to buy Gripen fighters from Sweden
Poses threat to Israel, since state of the art Swedish multi-task aircraft could reach Israel from bases in southwestern Pakistan.
The Pakistani media covering Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf state visit to Scandinavia reports that he has approached the Swedish government with a request to purchase a variety of military equipment. Swedish officials declined comment.
The main item on his shopping list is 5 squadrons (60 aircraft) of JAS-39 Gripens, considered by military observers to be at least the equal of the most advanced version of the F-16, the comparable US aircraft.
The Gripen is a frontline multi-role, swing-role supersonic (Mach 1.15 at sea level, Mach 2 at high altitude) aircraft, and is considered a match for any sophisticated fourth-generation combat aircraft. Having a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system powered by Volvo RM12 engine, Gripen can attain a maximum speed of Mach 2. The aircraft has a digital fly-by-wire flight control system, which further enhances its maneuverability.
Several countries, including Hungary, South Africa and the Czech Republic, have already purchased the NATO-compatible export version, which is being marketed jointly by BAE Systems and Saab.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been holding advanced negotiations with Saab Scania, and most of the details of the $2.7 billion deal have already been worked out. A final agreement between the Pakistan government and Gripen International is likely at the end of month, as the Swedish government is expected to approve the sale.
Until now the PAF has flown primarily US made aircraft. The decision to buy European shows that Pakistan realizes it is no longer regarded by the US as a reliable regional ally, and even more importantly, no longer sees itself as such. This is worrying, since it could mean that Musharraf has decided he needs the support of Islamic militants at home more than that of the US.
Puts Israel in range
The purchase, if it goes through could alter the strategic balance between Israel and its Moslem foes. The Gripen, with its 3,000 km. range could reach Israel from bases in southwestern Pakistan. Pakistan regards Israel as an unfriendly country, and has been extremely concerned by the growing military alliance between Jerusalem and Delhi. The fact that Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Moslem state will, for the first time, have a front line state of the art aircraft capable of reaching Israel means that the IAF may be facing a new strategic challenge.
Basic performance data
Length: 14.1 m
Span: 8.4 m
Height: 4.5 m
Normal take off weight: 8500 kg in fighter configuration
Payload: 5300 kg
Fuel, internal: 3000 litres approx (my estimate based on other,
External: 3800 litres official, numbers)
Max take off weight: 14000 kg
Range: 3000 km ferry range
Max speed: M 1.15 (1400 km/h) at sea level, close to Mach 2 at altitude
Acceleration: M 0.5 to M 1.1 at low altitude in 30 s
Turn performance: 9 G sustained, G onset rate at least 6 G/s (1-9 G in 1.2 s), min -3 G,
20+ deg/s sustained, 30 deg/s instantaneous
Climb rate: <100 s from brake release to 10 km altitude
180 s approx to 14 km
Ground turn around: <10 min with a crew of six