Gripen for Australia: the Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

Gripen for Australia: the Solution to the F-35 Nightmare. By David Archibald.

The F-35 has some particular shortcomings with respect to operating in northern Australia. It requires plugin power in the hangar of a particular voltage, and plugin airconditioning at a particular temperature and humidity. …

The F-35 needs a long runway to land. Lockheed Martin has not stated what runway length the F-35 needs, but the runway at Williamstown RAAF base was lengthened from 8,000 feet to 10,000 feet so that F-35 pilots could train there. Modern fighter aircraft can take off in 2,000 feet by comparison.

The practical impact of that is that there are only a handful of airfields in northern Australia from which the F-35 could operate, as shown by this graphic:

In comparison, the Gripen is designed to

operate according to the constraints of its dispersed wartime basing systems to be able to take off and land on road runways in the hinterlands and be turned around, rearmed and refueled by a team of conscripts. Design features call for the rapid field removal and replacement of engines, the ability to access aircraft systems by ground crews wearing gloves in the coldest of winters and an auxiliary power unit that keeps aircraft systems and communications up and running during the turnaround process so that the aircrew can maintain situational awareness of the air battle above while they are still on the ground.