Following the signing of a contract by the Kingdom of Thailand for six fighters, Saab is celebrating the capture of its first Gripen customer in the region. The deal also covers the supply of two Saab 340 twin-turboprop airliners, one configured with the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar for airborne early warning. Thailand plans to use the other for training and transport. Along with the flying hardware, Saab has promised to supply associated equipment and services, together with an advanced command-and-control system that links the operations of the Erieye and the Gripens.
Thailand announced on October 16 last year that it chose the Gripen to fulfill an outstanding air defense requirement as part of a government-to-government deal.
Following approval from the Swedish parliament in January, the contract signing occurred on February 11. Acting on behalf of the Swedish government is the FMV (Defence Material Administration), whose director general, Gunnar Holmgren, signed the contract, along with Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force.
The FMV subsequently placed a contract with Saab, worth SEK2 billion ($310 million). Under the deal, the Royal Thai Air Force will receive two single-seat JAS 39Cs and four JAS 39D two-seaters during 2011. Plans call for training to begin in 2009.
The Swedish air force has agreed to provide pilots and technicians to act as advisors during the introduction into service. Thailand next plans to order a follow-on batch of six Gripens and a second Erieye from 2013-17 funding.