Sweden Commits To Gripen E Development

 - March 29, 2013, 10:05 AM
Saab’s Gripen 39-7 development aircraft visited Switzerland again in January. Here it operates from Emmen with a representative air-to-air load of four Meteor missiles and two Iris-Ts. (Photo: Peter Liander/Saab)

Late last week Saab received a second order from FMV, the Swedish defense material administration, for the development of the Gripen E fighter that is slated to form the combat equipment of the Swedish air force from 2018.

Valued at SEK 10.7 billion ($1.64 billion), the development order covers activities in the period from 2015 to 2023, and follows an earlier SEK 2.5 billion ($385 million) order that was announced in February for work in 2013-2014. Included in the second order are definition and development work, as well as the adaptation of test and trial equipment, simulators and rigs. The two orders now received cover all planned Gripen E development work.

Altogether, the overall framework agreement for the Gripen E program has a value of SEK 47.2 billion ($7.27 billion). An additional order is expected later this year for the modification of 60 single-seat Gripen Cs to the Gripen E configuration, and another for mission-specific equipment and support/maintenance is scheduled to be awarded sometime in 2014. Included in the overall agreement is the supply of 22 new-build Gripen Es and related equipment to the Swiss air force. The Swedish aircraft will involve a significant amount of new-build components.

Switzerland has yet to rubber-stamp the Gripen purchase, which is currently proceeding through the country’s parliamentary process. The agreement does include provision to accommodate Switzerland’s failing to conclude the deal, as well as compensatory measures should Sweden cancel or cut back its order.

Meanwhile, aircraft 39-7, the two-seat Gripen NG test aircraft and formerly the Gripen Demo, is currently grounded while it receives phase 5 modifications, including the Selex ES Skyward G infrared search and track sensor and latest development of ES-05 Raven AESA radar. The aircraft should be back in the air in late spring/early summer. Three more aircraft are due to participate in the Gripen E development program, of which the first (39-8) is due to fly around year-end.

While the Gripen remains in the important fighter competition in Brazil, Saab has revealed a number of revived opportunities on the export front, including Denmark, where the government is reviewing its purchase of the Lockheed Martin F-35. Malaysia has long been interested in the Gripen, and may take up a leasing proposal. Finland, meanwhile, has joined the ranks of potential customers for the future, and Peru has also signaled some interest in the Gripen as a MiG-29/Mirage 2000 replacement.