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Finding suitable multi-role fighter for the Finnish defence

juhamac May 9th, 2018 (edited) 399 Never
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  1. Finding suitable multi-role fighter for the Finnish defence through capability assessment
  2.  
  3.  
  4. The Finnish Air Force's HX Fighter Program to replace the capabilities of F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter reached the request for quotation (RFQ) phase by the end of April.
  5. In this phase five manufacturers will receive a bid instructing them to offer the best solution for the Finnish operating environment and defence system.
  6. HX Fighter Program leader Juha-Pekka Keränen briefs about the model, which forms the basis of capability assessment of the proposed solution within the defence of Finland.
  7.  
  8. "Gripen is affordable multi-role fighter and represents the latest tech – or is it incomplete and too small?"
  9. "Rafale is war-proven and a working total package – or is it just a peculiar French jewel?"
  10. "Eurofighter is powerful and widely used multi-role fighter – or is it an expensive never ending project with non-existing operating time?"
  11. "Super Hornet is powerful and a known asset to the Air Force – or is it just the US Navy's in-between project, which would be immediately obsolete?"
  12. "F-35 is capable and a sign of things to come – or is it too expensive to operate and without necessary armament?"
  13.  
  14. These examples of popular claims are common in the public sphere, where people discuss about a follower for the F/A-18 Hornet.
  15. Once the RFQ is sent, each candidate can be expected to attest to the excellence of their proposed solution by any means necessary. Not only in the reply itself, but also in the public.
  16.  
  17. The project is tasked to find the best solution to suit the Finnish operating environment and needs. It will replace the Hornet fleet, which is due to retire 2025-30.
  18.  
  19. The HX Fighter Program was launched in 2015. In the spring of 2016, request for information (RFI) sent to the governments of France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States yielded replies from five fighter manufacturers in said countries.
  20. These four countries have just received the RFQ application.
  21.  
  22. Initial request for quotation sent in April 2018 launched the first negotiation phase of the fighter acquisition. During this phase, preliminary candidate-specific procurement packages will be determined.
  23. In the second half of 2019 another, a more specific RFQ will be sent. It will be followed by another negotiation phase, where the final contents of the procurement packages will be negotiated and determined with each tenderer. After the second phase in 2020 the final quotations will be requested. The Finnish Government will decide on the procurement in 2021.
  24.  
  25. The information received from HX candidates is under company and military secrecy. The defence administration won't comment in public about the candidates or any ranking between them.
  26. Nevertheless, it can be said that the polemic claims described earlier are not factual. Each candidate is fully committed, can provide Finland their own capability package and has proven ability to develop their system to meet the challenges of the future battlefield.
  27. Whether the candidate's offering is sufficient for us will be assessed during the phase that was just launched. The matter will be described in detail later in the article.
  28.  
  29.  
  30. Bottom-up optimization model
  31.  
  32. The decision making model within the HX Program has been designed to assess the best complete package around a multi-role fighter.
  33. The application of a bottom-up optimization model means that we don't need to set the weighting factors required in a traditional multi-criteria assessment.
  34. No weights in different areas of the acquisition. No need to compare factors that are unrelated to each other.
  35.  
  36. The goal of the decision making model is to optimize a candidate-specific package together with each manufacturer.
  37. Our aim in the next phase is to negotiate and build the best Gripen, Rafale, Eurofighter, Super Hornet and F-35 solution for Finland.
  38. In the decision making model the complete package will be assessed with five decision making criteria. Security of supply, life cycle cost, industrial participation, and military capability. It will be complemented with Ministry of Defence led assessment of security and defence policy.
  39.  
  40.  
  41. Defining the HX system
  42.  
  43. Defining the HX system is the first phase in the ongoing two-year negotiation process. During the process a supplier specific acquisition package will be negotiated with each candidate.
  44. At the lowest level of the decision making process each candidate will specify in their tender their vision of the best HX system architecture and solution for Finland.
  45. During the negotiation phase the offered system architecture will be specified and if necessary altered to provide the best supplier specific capability. The acquisition package can include armament, special equipment and sensors from parties other than the selected candidate.
  46.  
  47. The multi-role fighter providers (prime) are required to form joint ventures with armament and sensor manufacturers so that the responsibility for integration, as in providing and verifying compatibility, lies with the multi-role fighter provider.
  48. The negotiation and adjustment phase will last until summer 2020. After that, HX providers will give their final tender for the combined package.
  49. At that point every system, all equipment, information that goes along, and the candidate supplied maintenance and training solutions are known. As well as the agreement structure.
  50.  
  51.  
  52. Security of supply
  53.  
  54. The second level of the decision making model, security of supply, ensures that the Finnish Defence Forces can carry out air operations also when communication to the main user or supply shipments to Finland are disabled.
  55.  
  56. The aim is to negotiate maintenance and training system that enables operation in a state of emergency. It is also as cost effective as possible during normal operation and meets the requirements of thee Air Force's quality system.
  57. From a sovereignty view, the ability to maintain critical systems must be based in Finland. This requires good grasp of the tech, life cycle management of systems - as in domestic planning organization - and domestically available integration, maintenance, support and damage repair capability in all modes of operation.
  58.  
  59. The first occurrence of expense optimization happens at this level. If a candidate can provide the required supply and training system with less resources than others, it can allocate resources to increasing the military capability or lowering the upkeep costs.
  60. For the former this may enable extra investment into the amount or quality of armament, sensors and EW systems. For the latter, provider can for example increase the amount of spare equipment and supplies in their package.
  61.  
  62.  
  63. Life cycle cost
  64.  
  65. The third level of the model is about the life cycle cost. It will assess how the expenses are formed within the complete package.
  66. The assignment is clear. The acquisition must cover the planes, armament, sensors and other special and support systems, training and upkeep systems including their manuals, and the overall system start-up training.
  67. That must be done within the allotted budget, 7-10 billion euros, which is used as the basis for the planning. There will be no extra funding beyond that. The use of HX system until the 2060s has to be covered from the yearly defence budget.
  68.  
  69. Acquisition costs will evaluated with each candidate, based on the complete package formed during the previous levels of the acquisition process.
  70. The major factors affecting the acquisition price are the support system, and specifically the quantity and quality of armament, sensors and special systems.  
  71.  
  72. In the final assessment a candidate can't proceed to the next level until it meets the requirements regarding expenses.
  73.  
  74. Life cycle costs are compared to the costs of F/A-18 Hornet system in the Finnish use. It includes the yearly upkeeps and improvement resources put towards the system during its life cycle.
  75. What is already known are the costs related to the Air Force and the Logistics Command's Air Systems department's staff, costs related to air operations and related command and control systems, costs to produce conscripts, real estate related costs and other indirect costs.
  76. The comparison also includes the costs of purchased services from the strategic partners of the Finnish Defence Forces, for example the costs levied by Finavia, which operates Finland's airfields and services from ANS Finland, which provides air traffic control services.
  77. The assessment takes into account that defence materiel prices have risen faster than the common price index.
  78.  
  79. For the life cycle costs, the most important value for comparison in the calculation model is the yearly upkeep cost of multi-role fighter fleet (in picture, blue box 5). It's often presented in a simplified form, as cost per flight hour in euros.
  80. Comparison against the Finnish Air Force's Hornets is possible as they've been documented and verified in detail with, among others the same software to be used in the calculation for the HX Program.
  81.  
  82. The other costs (blue boxes 1-4 and 6-8) presented in the life cycle model will be evaluated in the Air Force Command. It will be done by using Life Cycle Cost (LCC) calculation model, based on the expenses data provided by the Finnish Defence Forces' Logistics Command.
  83. The assessment will be done by using an information model which is already used by the Finnish Defence Forces. The model includes specifics about how the troops assigned to tasks would operate using the HX system, the organization, the training and exercise system, materiel purchases, staffing required by the operation, leadership and leader training, basing and facilities, joint operation and information aspects.
  84.  
  85. To minimize the upkeep and development costs the HX acquisition and its life cycle development aims to keep the the operative and technical aspects as similar as possible with the main user.
  86. The main user is often the developer state or a combination of states and their armed forces. To develop capabilities, it's customary between the plane manufacturers and developer/user states to launch groups studying operative and future capabilities.
  87.  
  88. Operative user group will usually focus on how the capabilities of a multi-role fighter could be improved in the short term. Future development group has a longer term vision. Both groups set requirements and depending on the improvement budget these will either be implemented or forgotten in the future development programs.
  89.  
  90. Each HX candidate has their own development programs and candidates strive to keep their equipment combat capable also in the future. The task for the HX Program is to find out the nature of the development programs of each candidate, as well as their cost and credibility.
  91. At the same time, as a part of the FDF's strategic planning is analyzed what share of the development resources of the overall defence system the Air Force and the HX entity will receive in the next decades.  
  92.  
  93.  
  94. Industrial participation
  95.  
  96. The fourth level of the decision making model will assess industrial cooperation between the candidates and the domestic industry. The minister of defence Jussi Niinistö has set a goal of 30 percent of the total cost for the industrial participation.
  97.  
  98. The Ministry of Defence will evaluate the industrial participation. It will also be responsible for the networking of the domestic industry with the HX candidates. The goal of the industrial participation is to secure the security of supply of foreign and domestic defence industry, and to ensure that critical technology is available in all eventualities.
  99. Secondary goal is to ensure that Finnish tech and know-how is maintained and developed also in the future.
  100.  
  101. The HX Fighter Program will participate in the building of industrial participation by planning and negotiating a suitable upkeep, support and training solution for each candidate. Part of the included maintenance, information or training needs is likely practical to buy as a part of a direct industrial partnership.
  102.  
  103. Indirect industrial participation can be used to build up capabilities for the defence administration, the science and research community. as well as universities and universities of applied sciences.
  104. The evaluation of this part of industrial participation will specifically look into how the knowledge or technology is related to the critical capabilities of the Finnish defence. It will also note how the participation reinforces Finland’s defence technological and industrial foundations.
  105.  
  106.  
  107. Military capability
  108.  
  109. The fifth level will assess the military capability of the HX candidates. This is the only level where the HX candidates will receive points and are ranked.
  110. The requirements for the military capability of the HX project have been set as a part of the Finnish Defence Force's strategic planning process.
  111. The goal has been to anticipate comprehensively the requirements which 2030s defence system's operating environment places on multi-role fighters.
  112.  
  113. There are three levels of military capability requirements within the HX Fighter Program RFQ.
  114.  
  115. HX candidates are expected to answer with a complete solution that meets the operative requirements, produces the necessary capabilities for the missions, and fulfills the boundary conditions of system requirements.
  116.  
  117. On the top level the HX system's operative and life cycle requirements as part of the defence system are described. In the HX Program RFQ there are six upper level capability requirements, which form the basis of assessment of candidates' capabilities.
  118.  
  119. Capability requirements are split into five mission areas, which include operations that the HX system must be able to perform. The mission areas are counter-air (air defence), counter-land (air to ground), counter-sea (air to sea), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), airspace control and targeting, and long-range strike.
  120.  
  121. The most critical of the five mission areas, thus carrying the most weight is counter-air operations. Counter-air assessment focuses on candidate's ability to cope against fighters and air defence systems. This is a critical capability. The HX fighter can become part of an air battle or air defences can engage them also during other missions.
  122. Basing or combat support is also a significant part of the evaluation, even though it doesn't have independent weighting. The flexibility of basing and capability affects in the operational level to the success of each mission type.
  123.  
  124. The HX system also has requirements for the basing system of the flight equipment. The HX must be able to operate according to the Air Force's doctrine. That means distributed operations from bases, which have varying levels of equipment, and also makeshift fields within the range of the enemy's long range fires.
  125.  
  126. The seventh criteria for HX is life cycle requirement. It must be able to remain in use for at least 30 years.
  127.  
  128. The operative requirements will be assessed with tailor made scenarios portraying different types of military crisis and missions placed upon a multi-role fighter in said scenarios.
  129. In their replies, the HX candidates will try to reach favorable outcome by producing desired effects by solutions of their choice.
  130.  
  131. The second level of military requirements sets requirements, which are expected to be needed in 2030s air operations. These capability requirements number around 200 in the RFQ.
  132.  
  133. The third level describes the HX system requirements according to the knowledge model used in the Finnish Defence Forces. System requirements, of which there are around 200 for the military capabilities alone, are related to HX solution's restrictions and boundary conditions.
  134. These are there to ensure that the system can be integrated to become a part of the Finnish defence system. At the same time there's a goal to gather enough information about how the systems of HX candidates work to make the necessary decisions.
  135.  
  136. The capability or system requirements have only a few critical minimum or boundary requirements that the candidates must fulfill. Otherwise the set requirements are there to guide the candidates in the formulation of their reply, and to support the HX project in building the best package to serve the needs of the Finnish defence system.
  137.  
  138.  
  139. Assessment of military capability
  140.  
  141. The assessment of the military capability of the HX candidates is based on the requirements set in the RFQ. The final assessment between candidates will be done in two sub-area. The first is operative capability requirements (effectiveness and suitability sub-area) The second is future development potential sub-area.
  142. The FDF will give a recommendation for the military capability based on qualitative and quantitative assessment of the sub-areas.
  143.  
  144. The effectiveness and suitability sub-area describes how well the HX candidate performs set missions in the Finnish operating environment. It weighs the fulfillment of operative requirements through capability and systems evaluations.
  145. The offered HX solutions will be subject to scrutiny in scenario mission paths, which are designed to measure the operative requirements. The evaluation measures performance in set missions and their sub-parts instead of verifying single requirements.
  146. The growth potential area is used as a sensitivity analysis tool in the making of the complete, final assessment.
  147. It is used to assess whether the effectiveness and suitability -assessment's ranking will change when the capability increase described in their development plans is taken into consideration.
  148.  
  149.  
  150. Effectiveness and suitability assessment
  151.  
  152. The effectiveness and suitability assessment is done in three stages proceeding from details to entities. First a systems assessment will be done, second a capability assessment, and third an operative assessment.
  153. The methods of verifying capabilities include, among others comparisons between the replies of the candidates, classification of provided information, models, simulations, simulator flights and flight tests.
  154.  
  155.  
  156. Capability assessment
  157.  
  158. In the systems assessment the operation of the HX solution candidate's systems is looked into. The fulfillment of critical system requirements will be verified. The goal is to understand each HX candidate's systems solution.
  159. The replies form the basis for the systems assessment. Insufficient or contradictory systems information will be noted as increased risk in the later evaluation stages. In uncertain cases the lowest reliable assessment of the capability of the system will be used.
  160. The systems assessment will produce descriptions of how the system work, and measurements that describe the features of the systems.
  161.  
  162. The second stage of capability assessment is based on verified answers to the RFQ from the HX candidates, and systems assessments of how the capability requirements are met.
  163. The goal is to understand the meaning of the different capabilities utilized by the candidates in the different parts of the mission paths. The assessment will produce battle mission path related measurements of success. Those include for example the capability to destroy and survivability.
  164.  
  165. The third stage begins with an assessment of the operative level capability to achieve the wanted effects in the use cases described in the scenarios of the RFQ. The measurement for the success is the fulfillment operative requirements and finding the best overall capability.
  166. The overall capability will be specified with, among others produced effects, used resources and survivability, flexibility, the ability to share situational awareness and presence.
  167.  
  168.  
  169. Suitability assessment
  170.  
  171. The HX solution's basing concept's suitability and flexibility will be assessed based on a specifically made scenario that includes dispersed operation.  
  172. The measurements for operative level suitability include for example the capability to produce flights in different environments, mission capability, relocating, take off and landing related performance data and mission planning, debriefing and reporting.
  173.  
  174.  
  175. Operative war game in the assessment of effectiveness and suitability
  176.  
  177. When the mission area and basing scenarios have been verified, we move on to assess the HX candidates actual operative capability in the Finnish operating environment.
  178. This assessment will be done by operating a long term war game that simulates operations in the normal and state of emergency scenarios described in the RFQ.
  179. The goal is to assess the capability of the HX candidates complete solutions to perform in the scenarios, which go through the event chain of several rounds of flights.
  180.  
  181. The HX solution's capability to perform in the challenges met in the different stages of the war game is based on the information acquired in the previous stages. The information which concerns its capabilities against different kind of threats.
  182.  
  183. For example the turn around time of flights, which means how long the fuel and armament maintenance takes between flights - and its effect on the operations tempo is based on the information from the assessment of the basing concept.  
  184. The capability to survive in an air-to-air engagement is based on the success in counter-air in the earlier stages of the assessment.
  185.  
  186. In simple terms, it could be said that even if the HX candidate was perfect in the air-to-air, but its ops tempo remains low and it can't get to the fights, it's value in the battle stays low.
  187. The same applies of course if the ops tempo is high, but the capability to operate in the air is low.
  188.  
  189. The operative level assessment takes a look at how the requirements are met, passive defence, tactical and operative flexibility and relocating. Also the capability to complete different missions simultaneously, swing role -operation, will be looked into.
  190.  
  191.  
  192. Development potential assessment
  193.  
  194. It will produce a qualitative and quantitative assessment of how the HX candidate will remain combat capable until the end of 2050s. It will also assess the possible relative changes between the HX candidates compared to the current capability assessment results.
  195. The main criteria of the assessment are effectiveness and suitability forecast, and credibility.
  196.  
  197. Credibility assessment will produce a description of the HX candidate's development path's credibility.
  198. Sub-criteria include the manufacturer's previous track record, the factors related to other users and the total amount of planes, acknowledged development path and the manufacturer's technological capabilities to complete the development program.
  199. The assessment will produce measurements that describe the credibility of the development path. These include for example the production schedule of the airplanes and the total amount of production, the manufacturer's performance in their previous equipment programs, critical technologies related to the upgrades and their technological maturity, and Finland's ability to influence the content of the future equipment upgrades.
  200.  
  201. Effectiveness and suitability forecast criteria will assess the meaningfulness of the planned system upgrades within the context of the future operating environment.
  202. It will focus on the relative performance increase provided by the systems upgrades compared to the change in the operating environment. Systems level analysis will produce measurements that describe the upgrade capabilities of the systems and growth potential.
  203. These include, for example assessments related to the opportunities and restrictions related to the flight frame and power equipment, avionics and sensors upgrades and the integration of external payloads.
  204. Systems level descriptions will be used as the base to specify sub-criteria values, and the evaluation of weaknesses and strengths of future capabilities.
  205.  
  206.  
  207. Final words
  208.  
  209. The aim of the HX Fighter Program is to produce an analytical final report, which specifies the Finnish Defence Force's justified proposal for the next HX multi-role fighter and the HX overall solution.
  210. The HX Program is a great and an interesting project. Within the project the confidential information received from the HX tenderers is respected and their financial input to the challenging project valued.
  211.  
  212. This article is meant to describe the big picture of how the HX Program approaches the task of assessment and how the capability assessment will be implemented.
  213. Like what can be seen from the multifaceted assessment criteria, the task of ranking the HX candidates from the view of Finland's air defence missions isn't quite as simple as the occasional assumptions in the public conversation.
  214. The HX Program will assess the candidates as a whole and the aim is to identify the best overall solution for the Finland's defence system's needs in the 2030-60s.
  215. This necessitates a careful analysis of all of the areas of the HX solution, and co-operation with the five aircraft manufacturers offering their products.
  216.  
  217.  
  218. Colonel Juha-Pekka Keränen
  219. HX Fighter Program leader
  220.  
  221. The original article in Finnish: http://ilmavoimat.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/suorituskykyarviointi-loytaa-suomen-puolustukseen-sopivan-hx-monitoimihavittajan
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