Submarine deal, F 35 and European sovereignity between industrial policy, alliance issues and technology

Submarine deal, F 35 and European sovereignity between industrial policy, alliance issues and technology

The submarine deal and AUKUS have several dimensions. On the one hand, technologically: nuclear-powered submarines can travel underwater for much longer, do not have to refuel, are more likely to be compared with German submarines with fuel cells supplied by Germany to Israel, and on the other hand, there are also cost reasons, thirdly because of security and foreign policy considerations. The US is the decisive power for Australia and not France. France and also the EU could only help Australia and the Asians to a very limited extent, the USA is more the 800 kilo gorilla against the Chinese. Foreign Minister Drian and some Gaullists, including Germans and EU Commission President von der Leyen, want to question the US’s loyalty to the NATO alliance and warn that European interests have to be better considered and that the US has to consult with its supposed allies and that not America First should prevail

The procurement of new weapon systems is always a question of alliance policy, industrial policy and technology. The fact that NATO partner Erdogan buys S-400 air defense systems from Russia and not US-American systems aroused resentments and questions about loyalty to the Alliance. Rather unnoticed, Switzerland, which is neutral in terms of alliance issues, has now opted for the US American F 35A, since the European competition from Airbus, the French Dassault or the US American Lockheed are technologically and economically unsuitable for comparisons of this type :

“No leeway for political considerations F-35A clear winner in Switzerland

 The Swiss Federal Council decided on Wednesday to procure 36 F-35A fighter jets and five Patriot fire units from Raytheon. 06/30/2021 According to the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport, the two systems achieved the highest overall benefit and at the same time the lowest overall costs in the evaluation. “The Federal Council is convinced that the two systems are best suited to protecting the Swiss population from airborne threats in the future”, it says. The Federal Council based its decision on the extensive technical evaluation, which included four candidates for a new fighter aircraft (Eurofighter from Airbus, Germany; F / A-18 Super Hornet from Boeing, USA; F-35A from Lockheed Martin, USA; Rafale from Dassault , France) and two candidates for the Bodluv GR system (SAMP / T from Eurosam, France; Patriot from Raytheon, USA) were included. With 336 points, the F-35A shows the highest overall benefit, with a clear gap of 95 or more points to the other candidates. The aircraft performs best on three of the four main criteria. The DDPS stated:

In terms of effectiveness, the F-35A achieves the best result thanks to its pronounced technological lead over the other candidates. Based on this, the F-35A has innovative, very powerful and comprehensively networked systems for the protection and monitoring of the airspace. In this way, the F-35A achieves superior information and enables the pilots to be more aware of the situation in all areas of activity than with the other candidates. This also applies in particular to the everyday air police service. In addition, only the F-35A is designed from the ground up in such a way that it is difficult for other weapon systems to detect. The resulting high survivability is a particular advantage for the Swiss Air Force. In addition, the comparatively simple system operation and the information superiority of the F-35A change the training content and the ratio of flight to simulator hours. As a result, around 20 percent fewer flying hours are required than with the other candidates and around 50 percent fewer take-offs and landings than with today’s jet aircraft of the Air Force, which are being replaced by the F-35A. After all, the F-35A, as the most modern weapon system, can be assumed to have a technological lead well into the future. Given the intended useful life of 30 to 40 years, this is a great advantage over the other candidates. In product support, the F-35A achieved the highest rating due to its efficient operation and maintenance, advanced training and high security of supply during the entire service life. This is also due to the fact that the F-35A is produced in the largest number of units and is also used in Europe by the largest number of countries. The F-35A also shows the best result in cooperation. It offers extensive opportunities for collaboration in operations and broad access to data and technical resources.

In terms of direct offset, the concept of the F-35A does not achieve the best result at the time the offer is submitted. The offset obligation of 60 percent of the order value must be completely fulfilled no later than 4 years after the last delivery (planned for 2030). In terms of fleet size, for all four candidates the number of 36 aircraft meets the need to protect the airspace in an ongoing situation of heightened tension. The purpose of the Air Force is to prevent Swiss airspace from being used by parties in a military conflict. In its decision, the Federal Council also took into account the technological dependencies of the manufacturer and the country of manufacture. It turned out that all candidates guarantee the necessary data autonomy. With the F-35A, cybersecurity in particular is very well ensured because cyber management, the security of the computer architecture and the cyber protection-oriented measures are comprehensively guaranteed. As with all other candidates, Switzerland itself determines which data it exchanges with other air forces via data link connections or which logistical data is reported back to the manufacturer with the F-35A. In addition, the aircraft is operated and maintained in Switzerland by the Air Force and RUAG Switzerland. In addition to the benefits, the F-35A also achieved by far the best result in terms of costs. Both procurement and operation are cheapest for this aircraft. The procurement costs at the time of the offers in February 2021 amount to CHF 5.068 billion. They are clearly within the specified financial volume of 6 billion francs, which the electorate has decided. Even if the inflation is added up to the time of payment, the procurement costs are within the credit limit. The F-35A is also the cheapest aircraft of all providers in terms of operating costs. The total costs, which consist of the procurement and the operating costs, amount to around 15.5 billion Swiss francs over 30 years for the F-35A. The difference to the second cheapest candidate is in the region of CHF 2 billion. (…)

This is where the European and French weapon systems are worse worse in terms of performance, cost calculations and other indicators. It is interesting that the German Defense Minister Annegret-Kramp-Karrenbauer and other German security politicians were already considering ordering the F-35 instead of the new successor to the Eurofighter , the German-French-European Future Combat Air System (FCAS), although this weapon system is actually symbolizes the French- German axis and European sovereignty: as it was said in 2019:

„FCAS concept studies start France and Germany have awarded the first study contract to develop the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

 The aim is to develop basic concepts for central components such as the Next Generation Fighter (NGF). KS 02/06/2019 The starting shot for the joint concept studies was announced on Wednesday at a meeting between Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart Florence Parly in Paris. The start date for the two-year study is February 20, 2019. The joint concept study (JCS) is based on a joint capability requirement (High Level Operational Requirements Document, HLCORD) that was signed by the defense ministers of Germany and France at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Berlin in April 2018, as well as previous national ones Concept studies. The aim of the study is to design the various FCAS capabilities and to lay the foundations for later development, industrialization and production of full functionality by 2040. As part of the study, demonstrator programs will also be developed up to the Paris Air Show in June 2019. The planned next-generation weapon system will consist of a powerful manned New Generation Fighter (NGF) with new and further developed weapons as well as a number of unmanned systems (remote carriers). Both are connected by a Combat Cloud and embedded in an FCAS (System of Systems) architecture, according to Airbus and Dassault.

 Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: “This next step is critical in securing Europe’s strategic autonomy. Dassault Aviation will contribute its competencies in the areas of system architecture and integration in order to meet the requirements of the participating countries and to secure Europe’s leading position in the strategically important field of air combat systems. „

 If Germany had opted for the F 35, like the Australians in the submarine deal, the French would have freaked out and would have seen this as the beginning of the end of the French-German axis or as ex-General Domröse put it briefly: „Absolutely. The subject is dead in the Air Force. Vive la France. ”. We have to remind ourselves once again what significance Airbus and other French-German industrial and armaments cooperations have historically. Servan Schreiber wrote his book “The American Challenge” as early as the 1970s and the left-wing nationalist Che Guevara friend Debray who was also anti-American / anti-imperialist. became adviser to French President Mitterrand,  In the line of the Gaullists they looked for an European antipole against the USA and a European leading power of France within the European Community, with De Gaulle even leaving NATO in 1966.

On the German side, it was above all the German Gaullists of the CDU / CSU steel helmet wing around Strauss / Dregger who called for their own German or European nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems, or at least for nuclear participation in the US nuclear capacities. Above all, Franz Josef Strauss was the main driver in the formation of a German and European aerospace industry. Airbus, Arianne, ESA, the Oberpfaffenhofen Space Center, the Eurofighter, the Tornado, the Gallileo satellite system are inconceivable without his commitment. Above all, by ordering the starfighters, he managed to remove essential arms and production restrictions for the German and European aerospace industries, first through licenses, joint ventures and then German and European in-house production. While Germany’s left only looked at scandalous stories about Strauss such as the black prostitute who stole his wallet during a casual evening conversation with Lockheed representatives in New York and the Starfighter crashes, they did not understand what Strauss was actually trying to achieve strategically. From nuclear weapon-carrying delivery systems like the Starfighter one was, to the establishment of its own German and European aerospace industry.

The fact that Airbus was able to prevail against the then monopoly Boeing shows the far-reaching effect of Strauss‘ plans. The French-German Axis and European sovereignty are also understood in terms of such European industrial policy and associated armaments projects. In view of the F 35 decision by Switzerland and the submarine deal, in addition to all these industry and defense issues, there is also the question of the technological quality of these products – and Europe now seems to be lacking quality more and more.

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