|Earlier today, I decided to ask my main man, the Notorious bWg, what he thought about the news today that the first Gripen fighter jets for the Czech Republic are rolling off the assembly line.|
bWg, as regular readers of this blog know, is the Cold War Tourist, who spent a few months in 1999 traveling around what he called ‘the battlefields of the Cold War.’
But bWg is no mere tourist. He’s had letters published in Aviation Week, ferchrissake. And he’s working for an up-and-coming US defense contractor. So he’s obviously the right guy to ask about the Czechs’ decision to buy Gripens.
What follows is the e-mail exchange I had with him today.
Subject: Gripen Cs and Ds for the Czechs
Just read this story about the new Gripens the Czechs are leasing (“Zero down, 120 easy installments!”) and there were a couple of things that stuck out for me: one is that these are the new, improved C and D models (what, do they like have the DVD navigation installed?), and that they’re installed with the latest software (you mean these planes fly on software? I just hope the pilots have the control, alt and delete keys on the same side of their joysticks…)
Subject: Re: Gripen Cs and Ds for the Czechs
Ahh, the Czechs and their Gripens.
See, there’s this strange “bitchin Camaro” mentality that nations have when it comes to fighters. Though nearly every small nation would be FAR better served by buying transport aircraft and logistics stuff and command/control equipment, they ALL seem to end up buying expensive, hard-to-support fighter aircraft. The Czech Republic is a NATO member, for god’s sake, with NATO members on every border. What do they expect to do with these Gripens? And while they’re spending a few billion euros on sexy, chick-magnet fighters, the only way they can send troops further than Brno is on a US C-5 or by buying a Eurail pass. Even if they flew these Gripens to somewhere like Iraq or Kosovo or Cote d’Ivoire, they’d have to ship all the support equipment FedEx.
Not that Czech defense spending is any more irrational than anyone else’s. NATO is completely awash in fighters, but has precisely four intertheatre assault airlifters (C-17s, which the Brits lease from Boeing). Cote d’Ivoire just had their bling-bling Su-25s blown up by French peacekeepers, while at the same time they can barely move troops anywhere cuz they don’t have enough trucks or radios. Fidel Castro has something other than tobacco in his cigar if he thinks his MiG-29s will be in the air for more than about three and a half minutes if the Americans ever come calling.
Of course, having firsthand knowledge of the sizzling hotness of Czech chicks, I imagine all of MY defense dollars would be going towards babe-magnet fighters, too. I’d lower them, paint them red, and chrome the shit out of ’em. You think I can get aftermarket spinners from Aero Vodochody?