Saab reacted with vigor to a statement by the Norwegian government that the Gripen fighter was inferior to the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF in most aspects of performance–and was also more expensive. Norway had been evaluating the Gripen NG (New Generation) as an alternative to the JSF, and Saab had high hopes of launching the NG version with the help of its Scandinavian neighbor.
Although India’s 126-aircraft requirement is the main prize for the world’s fighter manufacturers, major procurement decisions in Brazil and Switzerland are expected to be made long before Delhi makes its choice.
Eurofighter has offered India codevelopment of an active antenna for the Typhoon’s Captor radar, as part of its bid to secure that country’s 126-unit order for a new combat aircraft. Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen said that there had been “positive discussions” with India about a plan that would share the costs of converting the mechanically scanned Captor with the four original Eurofighter partner nations.
Four Rafale fighters from the French Air Force have completed a month-long deployment to the U.S., where they conducted a squadron exchange at Luke AFB and then took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB. According to Dassault, no shootdowns were scored against the Rafale during the 10-day exercise, and American observers were particularly impressed with the accuracy of the fighter’s Sagem AASM “smart” bombs.
Dassault Falcon said it plans to establish a factory-owned Falcon service center at Sorocaba Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. According to Dassault, the new service center will support the growing Falcon fleet in Brazil, which is expected to double in size to more than 50 airplanes in the next three years. The facility is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter.
Dassault has bucked the trend among business jet manufacturers of announcing massive job cuts, furloughs or temporary factory closures since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2001. Still, the French company has significantly reduced production rates for its Falcon line.
The Yak-130 advanced jet trainer is not cavorting about the skies over Farnborough, but company executives are on hand at the Irkut stand (Hall 1 E8) to discuss its capabilities and give an update on the program.
Switzerland is in the market for about 20 new fighters to progressively replace its remaining F-5 fleet. In a preliminary evaluation, the defense ministry pre-
Saab achieved the first flight of the Gripen Demo from the company’s Linköping airfield in Sweden on May 27. Crewed by test pilots Mikael Siedl and Magnus Ljungdahl, the flawless 30-minute flight marked the start of a three-year campaign, during which the fighter will demonstrate a wide range of new technologies destined for the Gripen Next Generation aircraft, as well as options for existing models.
A second export customer for the French-made Dassault Rafale combat aircraft has emerged. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has begun negotiations to replace its 63 Mirage 2000s, starting in 2012. “Thanks to its multimission capability, the Rafale is perfectly suited to the needs of defending the UAE in the years to come,” noted a statement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office.