We're going to start our Standing Committee on National Defence, meeting number 38.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are going to continue our study on the next generation of fighter aircraft.
We have with us, from Eurofighter, Mr. Roman Kohler,
Vice-President of Political and Government Affairs, Aeronautics. Thank you, Mr. Kohler, and welcome.
We also have, from Alenia Aeronautica, Andrea Nappi, head of Eurofighter export, Alenia Aeronautica. Bienvenue. Enchanté.
We also have, from Cassidian Air Systems, Christian Worning,
Eurofighter project test pilot. Thank you for being with us.
I think it will be Mr. Nappi who will take the floor. You have ten minutes to make your presentation. After that, the members will ask questions of the witnesses.
Thank you for being with us this afternoon.
Mr. Nappi, you have the floor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, good afternoon.
My name is Andrea Nappi, and I’m here today to represent the supervisory board of the Eurofighter GmbH consortium, whose headquarters are based in Munich, Germany.
The shareholders of the consortium are Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems, EADS Germany, and EADS Spain.
I’m joined today by my colleague Mr. Chris Worning of EADS Germany, who is one of our test pilots and who has flown many types of combat aircraft, and by Mr. Roman Kohler, who is Eurofighter's vice-president for government affairs.
I will begin by saying how grateful Eurofighter is for this opportunity to address the committee and to answer your questions about our Typhoon aircraft and about our interest in meeting the needs of the Canadian defence force. We have followed closely and with great interest the progress of the committee's current inquiry, not least so that we would be well prepared to provide you with the most helpful responses.
Although I recognize that the committee is generally familiar with these matters, I would briefly remind you that the Eurofighter so-called core nations are Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and that these four countries have ordered 620 aircraft, of which 250 have been delivered to date. In addition, Austria has purchased and taken delivery of 15 aircraft, while Saudi Arabia has purchased 72 aircraft. There are now 16 operational Eurofighter Typhoon units operating in all climatic environments, including northern Europe, the Middle East, and the south Atlantic.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is currently a contender in competitive opportunities around the globe for a total of some 800 fast jet aircraft, and has performed outstandingly well in recent highly demanding evaluation trials. So this is a very real airplane, undertaking very real and demanding operational duties.
The Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, which first entered operational service in 2004, has flown some 100,000 hours and will form the backbone of the Eurofighter nations' forces for at least the next 30 years. Eurofighter Typhoon is a modern, highly capable, highly agile multi-role twin-engine fighter, with a proven level of maturity and extensive growth potential. Unlike other fighters, Eurofighter Typhoon's advanced design features allow a comprehensive air-to-surface capability to be provided with no compromise to air-to-air effectiveness. The four partner nations are committed to an ongoing cycle of capability sustainment to maintain the aircraft's fighting edge throughout its operational life.
The aircraft makes extensive use of composites in the airframe, with only 15% of the surface comprising metal. Its EJ200 engines, combined with the aircraft's aerodynamics, allow it to cruise supersonically without the use of reheat for extended periods of time, even with a weapons load. A fully integrated avionics system, coupled with a lightweight helmet-mounted display, help to minimize the pilot’s workload and maximize situational awareness, permitting fully effective single-seat operations in all weather conditions, day and night.
An integrated suite of advanced sensors provides for the detection, tracking, identification, and engagement of air and surface targets under even the most demanding conditions, and the aircraft is able to carry a wide range of weapons, mission-specific loads, and other stores.
The Eurofighter Typhoon has also been designed to be reliable and easy to maintain when operating from forward operating bases with limited facilities, and this gives extremely high levels of fleet availability and competitive life-cycle costs. You may not be surprised to hear, therefore, that we pay little attention to the fourth-generation versus fifth-generation debate that seems to have become fashionable. We prefer instead to focus on delivering a mix of capabilities that not only meets our customers' requirements but also optimizes their chances of surviving the battle. This mix includes, for example, our super-cruise capability, extreme agility, sustained supersonic and high-altitude operations, fighter performance with a full missile load, integrated sensor fusion, network-enabled operations, low observability, and an ability to change roles in flight.
It is also worth underlining at this point that the Eurofighter Typhoon was designed from the outset to be fully interoperable at all times and in all circumstances with NATO forces. It would be more than able, therefore, to undertake NORAD operations in concert with U.S. forces. I would also observe that its twin-engine design makes it particularly suited to operating safely in Arctic conditions.
Perhaps I could also point out that the Eurofighter Typhoon meets all three of the key capabilities highlighted by General Deschamps as essential for the next-generation fighter--interoperability, sensors and data fusion, and survivability.
The Canadian defence force was first briefed on the Eurofighter Typhoon in 2004 by BAE Systems. Further intermittent contact with BAE Systems took place until 2008, during which time visits were also made to the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon operational base. During this period we and the U.K. Ministry of Defence provided limited amounts of data on the aircraft, and I have provided the clerk of the committee with French and English-language versions of summary documents that we previously provided to the Canadian defence force.
As I said, we are continually developing and optimizing the aircraft, so I respectfully suggest that a current assessment of the aircraft would require far more up-to-date and comprehensive data than has been previously provided. We would, of course, be delighted to offer such data, which would also be of much higher classification than the earlier data. The bottom line is that we are wholly confident that our aircraft would readily meet the high-level mandatory capabilities for Canada's next-generation fighter.
Aside from its wish to secure a cost-effective, leading-edge capability, we have been especially aware of Canada's determination to maximize the benefit of any acquisition for Canadian industry. I would like to highlight, therefore, that as a multinational collaborative venture we are used to sharing intellectual property and transferring technology, not just among ourselves, but with our extensive supplier base and our export customers.
In addition, all four Eurofighter partner companies have outstanding track records in meeting industrial participation and offset obligations around the globe. Between us we have the ability to offer Canadian industry an unprecedented and unique level of access to key fighter technologies covering manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul, capability development, and systems integration.
We can also offer opportunities and partnerships not just on the Typhoon aircraft, but on high-technology projects in every sector of the defence equipment arena, as well as in a wide variety of civil aerospace, communications, electronics, and space programs.
Eurofighter's shareholder companies have combined turnover in excess of 120 billion euros, and operate some 20 business units in more than 30 countries. The Eurofighter consortium is happy to work with Industry Canada and the regional benefit agencies to develop a bespoke, high-value industrial participation offering to Canada, meeting or exceeding the dollar-for-dollar requirement.
On the vital issue of sovereign control, Canada is a close and longstanding ally of all four Eurofighter partner nations, and the history of the defence trade between us demonstrates well our willingness to transfer the technology needed to ensure that Canada remains in charge of its own destiny.
I look forward to being able to answer the committee's questions, but before doing so I would like to offer you an invitation to visit Eurofighter's facilities in Europe and an operational Typhoon base, in order to gain a true appreciation of this world-class multi-role combat aircraft that matches so well the operational challenges faced by the Canadian defence force.
Thanks for the question. It's very interesting.
Of course the core of the production and development of the Eurofighter Typhoon has taken place in Europe, but it's not only within the four core nations. We have several industries that are supporting the Eurofighter Typhoon, including France and other nations outside the core. And even outside Europe, there are companies participating in the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Of course Canadian industry would be more than welcome to participate in two elements of the future Eurofighter Typhoon, should Canada enter the program. These would include participation in the manufacturing of components and the final assembly line, because with the size of fleet Canada would need, it would be economically convenient to have a final national assembly line. We are already offering this capability to other nations where we are actively campaigning for the Typhoon--namely, Japan, India, and all of the nations where the size of the fleet would be in excess of 30 units. Then it's economically convenient to have a final assembly line in country that would also allow the local industry to familiarize itself with the aircraft, so they could support the aircraft well once it enters the local air force.
In addition to that, I said we had a progressive plan to introduce new capabilities to the product. Of course these capabilities are currently based on the requirements of our core nations and our export customers who are already part of the program. Should another country enter the program, then most likely they would have their own requirements. These would be additional to those already being considered by industry at present. For the development of these additional requirements, we would most likely rely on the support and help of local industry. This would include, therefore, a lot of transfer of technology and transfer of information on the product, which I think is a unique asset making the Eurofighter Typhoon different from most of the other platforms available in the world.
Just to give you an example, we are offering Japan the capability of integrating its own Japanese legacy weapons into the Eurofighter Typhoon, with the capability of doing that in an independent way from European industry.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, thank you and good afternoon. Thank you also for the chance to present a short overview of the Saab Gripen next-generation fighter.
My name is Tony Ogilvy. I look after international marketing for Saab aeronautics. My colleague is Mr. Peter Ringh, who is a technical director on the Gripen program. Mr. Patrick Palmer runs our Saab operation here in Ottawa as the executive vice-president for all operations.
By way of introduction, Saab is well established here in Canada. We have key technologies in service in the Canadian army, navy, coast guard, air force, and universities. The Gripen is in service in five nations and has flown over 1,400 flight hours. We are active in many competitive fleet replacement programs all around the world, most notably in India and Brazil. The aircraft itself is a multi-role fighter. It is super-cruise-capable and combines exceptional range of endurance un-refueled, with the most powerful close- and long-range missile armament in service today. It operates from very short strips. It needs only 800 metres of virtually any available surface to allow maximum payload operations. No other fighter can do this. Also designed into the aircraft is on-demand maintenance. Basically, if it is working, we leave it.
Turning to the capabilities, from the high-level mandatory documentation we have seen, Gripen, in our opinion, will meet and in many cases exceed all operational requirements of the Canadian air force in all roles by day and night. With regard to range and endurance, Gripen can fly farther and stay airborne longer than any of our competitors' aircraft. As an example, un-refueled, it has a range of 4,000 kilometres. That's from Goose Bay to Inuvik. On full alert, the aircraft can be airborne in less than 60 seconds. A turnaround in the field in air-to-air role will take just under ten minutes. And a hot-engine change in the field takes less than an hour.
Gripen is fully operational within NATO, and fully interoperable with our NATO allies. As to Arctic operations, the Swedish air force operates one of its three Gripen wings in a location farther north than Alaska, so we are well versed in extremes of temperature, because we have operational aircraft in service in all climatic zones worldwide.
Turning to weapons, Gripen next-generation has ten external store stations. It is capable of carrying a payload of eight tonnes and a wide range of short- and long-range precision weapons with full NATO interoperability. We will, however, integrate any weapon that you require. If we can carry it, we'll integrate it. It is currently the only aircraft in the world that can carry and fire the most powerful beyond-visual-range missile currently in service, the Meteor, and that is a testament to the level of technical superiority of our latest software standard.
We employ a balanced survivability concept with very low audio, visual, radar, and infrared signatures, plus an extensive suite of on-board integrated defensive aids. Gripen has for decades matured a highly sophisticated interflight data link that complements the wide-picture information incoming from Link 16. This local data link allows Gripen to share total situation awareness while operating in emission silence, which greatly enhances survivability and maximizes the chances of full mission success.
Future growth is built into the design concept. Gripen is designed to meet the demands of all future threat scenarios, and to remain in active operational service for 8,000 flight hours, which, at an annual flying rate of 170 hours a year, is about 40 years of service.
With the current procurement schedule, Saab can confirm deliveries to Canada of the Gripen NG in 2016.
Much is made of fighter aircraft generations. What is fourth, what is fifth, what is four and a half? In our view, if a fighter is equipped with the latest AESA radar and has total sensor fusion and the ability to distribute the data as needed to pilots and to off-board agencies, if it has a balanced survivability concept through very low signature management and is super-cruise-capable, that's a fifth-generation aircraft. And that's what Gripen NG is.
Now I'd like to briefly outline our pricing and key cost data for you. These figures are approximate and are based on in-year Canadian dollars. The acquisition price of one Gripen, the fly-away price, is about $55 million. That depends on configuration, but that's a real number.
The other critical financial issue for any nation operating this aircraft is the cost per flight hour over the aircraft's full life cycle of about 40 years, the in-service support cost. The figure we use is not produced by Saab but comes from a wholly independent source, the Swedish air force, which monitors very precisely all of the criteria to come up with the in-service cost figure. The in-service cost per flight hour for Gripen is between $4,000 and $4,500 in Canadian dollars. So for a full fleet of 65 Gripen NG, the cost per year would be between $44 million and $50 million Canadian for a full fleet of 65 aircraft.
If you take round figures, in terms of acquisition and in-service costs, a fleet of 65 Gripen NG will cost you just under $6 billion Canadian. That's about $3.75 billion Canadian to acquire the aircraft, and $2 billion to operate them over 40 years, or just under $6 billion for the whole package for life.
In the wake of the recent global financial crises, we all know that most nations are now moving to adapt to new economic realities, particularly in the mature western economies. We see this first-hand in our export markets. We see it all the time as many countries rapidly overhaul their procurement strategies. For many of the countries I work in, traditional defence procurement is a thing of the past. It's into this new environment that we believe Gripen NG can offer exceptional capability at minimum cost.
We also recognize that Canada is very closely involved as an export customer in the JSF program. Now, we obviously wish to enter a full and open competition to meet 100% of the requirement for the future Canadian air force, i.e., for all 65 aircraft. Should this prove too complex, we would offer for consideration a fighter fleet of JSF and Gripen, as an option. I can assure all those who balk at this proposal that Gripen has an extremely low support footprint, which would require minimal change to existing Hornet facilities. Further, the Gripen can integrate fully with the F-35. After all, that is what NATO has striven to achieve with its allies.
Such a combined fleet would provide for a balanced and very highly capable air force, a very formidable defensive and offensive mix, a strategic strike fighter in the F-35 and a tactical multi-role fighter in Gripen NG. Gripen would be able to fully exploit the extreme range of the Meteor missile to maximum effect in the defence of Canada's vast airspace and Arctic regions. Gripen would also be available to conduct those operations where JSF is not best suited and where the command would simply not wish to commit. Close air support of troops in the field is a classic example where a highly manoeuvrable and very agile fighter like Gripen is far more suited than the heavier and more cumbersome F-35 strike aircraft.
The two-seat version of Gripen is a fully operational aircraft and is well suited to additional roles, such as tactical formation lead in intensive high-threat environments and long-range search and rescue. With in-flight refueling, the aircraft will stay airborne as long as the pilot can stay awake.
In addition to the huge and real cost savings it offers Canada, Gripen will bring very significant and tangible benefits to the Canadian industrial base through full technology transfer and long-term development in partnership with Swedish companies in the defence sector and, if required, the non-defence sector, through the investor group. We offer full offset through the mutually beneficial industrial cooperation IRB program, and we have an unrivalled record in delivering what we commit to—and on time.
Companies may offer the transfer of technology when they actually mean a build or assembly process where the transfer of technology is actually minimal. Saab will transfer all—and we mean all—technologies required by Canada, including all source, single first-line code data. This will enable full national and functional control to be exercised over every element of the aircraft's offensive and defensive systems now and in the future.
We own those technologies in Saab systems. We give them to you and we give you every possible assistance in terms of software, support code, and transfer code to enable you to do the job yourself. We feel it's essential for Canada to have total control of the key software technologies, such as electronic counter-measures, your threat library, etc. Only you can have those controls--nobody else.
The transfer we offer will be hands-on, to fully enable Canada to build on its outstanding national capabilities in software development, which you already have in this country, and to fully enable sustainable engineering to be conducted here in country so you can update your aircraft to your own requirements. We would back and fully support all of these ventures from Sweden, as you require. We have this model under way in South Africa, where they run their own software, and have achieved great success in precisely this development program.
Saab recognizes and supports solutions for Canada that provide a manageable and reliable acquisition, long-term sustainability and support in Canada, for Canada, by Canadians. We believe that the Gripen NG fighter, in service with the Canadian air force, would significantly strengthen Canada's independent capacity to defend national sovereignty and security, provide exceptional industrial benefits and real technology transfer, and save you billions of dollars--and we mean billions.
We would also like to invite all of you, ladies and gentlemen, to come to Linköping, our base in Sweden, and look at the aircraft. Take along a screwdriver, take a forensic look at what we're actually offering, and allow yourselves to make your own decisions on what you see. All we ask is for the chance to properly demonstrate our capability to Canada and the Canadian air force, through an open and competitive process.