More Gripens for Thailand; recce pods for South Africa

 - December 3, 2010, 7:05 AM
Saab recently began flight integration trials with the Thales DJRP reconnaissance pod attached to the intake pylon of a South African Gripen C. (Photo: Saab)

In November, Saab received the expected follow-on order for six more Gripen fighters for Thailand. Under a government-to-government deal finalized in 2008, Thailand already ordered two Gripen Cs and four Gripen D two-seaters as part of an air defense package that includes a Saab 340 Erieye radar platform. At the time, Thailand signaled its intentions to double its Gripen order with funding outlined in the subsequent five-year cycle. The second batch will all be Gripen C single-seaters.

In the meantime, Saab has begun flight testing the Thales Optronics digital joint reconnaissance pod (DJRP) intended for service on South Africa’s Gripens. Developed from the earlier Vinten Vicon series, the DJRP has been widely used by RAF Tornados in Afghanistan. It was ordered by South Africa in August last year, and a pod was delivered to Saab for integration trials around a year later. Initial test flights have been conducted in Sweden using a production South African aircraft before its delivery to the SAAF.