Saab is to establish an advanced training center for Gripen pilots at Overberg air force base in South Africa, the Swedish company announced this week. The center will act as a fighter weapons school and will specialize in honing the skills of experienced pilots. The first course will take place late next year, and the syllabus will focus on advanced multi-role aspects of Gripen operations.
Saab’s confidence in a growing sector has resulted in the company investing in a demonstrator platform for its 340 maritime security aircraft (MSA) offering. The aircraft’s conversion was completed last month, in time to begin customer demonstrations and appearances at a series of trade exhibitions, beginning with this week’s Farnborough International Airshow.
ATR’s 50-seat 42-600 turboprop was certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) late last month, bringing to fruition a test campaign that saw the larger, 70-seat ATR 72-600 gain certification in May last year. The aircraft have been updated with glass cockpits and modern avionics systems along with other refinements, including the Armonia cabin designed by Italian car designer Giugiaro.
The threat to civil aviation posed by man-portable air defense systems (Manpads)–such as shoulder launched missiles–in conflict areas around the world is resulting in a requirement for intelligent systems to help counter the attacks. Saab’s Civil Aircraft Missile Protection (Camps) system has increasingly been used to combat such threats, Hannes Prinsloo, technical product manager South Africa for Saab told AIN.
Dassault has offered to adjust the Rafale package for Switzerland to reduce cost and prevent the confirmation of the Saab Gripen as that country’s new fighter. The move follows the leaking of the Swiss air force evaluation report on the competing fighters, which also included the Eurofighter. The Rafale was the clear winner of the SAF evaluation, with the Eurofighter second, but the Swiss government opted for the cheaper Gripen package. This was worth $3.4 billion and included 22 jets. The potential new French offer is $3 billion for 18 aircraft, according to reports in the Swiss media.
Hungary extended until 2026 the lease contract with the Swedish government for the 14 Saab Gripen C/D fighters that it received in 2006 and 2007. The agreement was due to expire in 2016. According to press reports in Budapest, Hungary currently pays $130 million per year to operate the aircraft, which were surplus to Swedish air force requirements. Saab said it is pleased by Hungary’s “long-term strategic decision.”
Saab Surveillance Systems is offering a new maritime mode for the Erieye AEW&C system that can detect moving objects as small as jet skis or rubber boats that might be used by terrorist groups. Mats Wicksell, technical program manager, told an AEW conference organized by Defence iQ in London that AEW systems can play an important role in maritime surveillance because of their wide-area coverage. Like other AEW systems, the Erieye radar already offers detection of larger vessels.
Switzerland has chosen the Saab Gripen as its new fighter aircraft, in preference to the Dassault Rafale or Eurofighter Typhoon. Defense Minister Ueli Maurier told journalists that the Swedish package including 22 jets is worth $3.4 billion.
UAE’s Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) has a long-standing interest in acquiring an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) capability.