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17 May 2016

Saab Smartly Software Defining GRIPEN E Tactical Functionalities

Jerker Ahlqvist, Saab Head of GRIPEN, gave an overview of the GRIPEN programme in general during Saab’s annual press tour. On Saab Aeronautics’ roadmap, he mentioned that all major happening within Saab at the moment, manned & unmanned, TX Advanced Trainer, Surveillance UAS, and GRIPEN (C/D, E, F, System of Systems + Future development) will somewhere in the future “lead us into the FCAS.”

We have a good market position, and we want to increase our market share by developing the position we have,” Ahlqvist said. “There is large interest in GRIPEN worldwide with long-term future development and production secured.”

The company continues development of GRIPEN C/D in parallel with E (Sweden) and NG (Brazil); due to several customers still operating C/Ds; and functionality that has originally been developed for E/F could in the future, once matured, be put into C/D, e.g. avionics. “We still develop functionalities for the C/D, where we have a functionality track for C/D that goes well into the next 10 years,” the industry expert said.

The GRIPEN E programme, “is full speed ahead, 60 aircraft in total, all of them single seaters,” he explained. “2019 sees the first aircraft delivered,” while from #30 on Saab will produce aircraft on time and on budget, according to him. The Swedish Air Force said that by 2023 they will have one division IOC.

On future sales and on-time deliveries, the Head of GRIPEN informed that with Brazil (36 aircraft), “we have established a production capability (still a few years down the line to have it running), while here in Sweden we will be able to build 25-30 aircraft a year. "

Brazil is now at full speed, up and running. The Transfer of Technology programme (except for US content - ITAR regulations) is ongoing with the first 60 Brazilian engineers in Sweden. The objective is, as already said, to set up a GRIPEN development centre, and a flight test centre in Brazil with aircraft and aerostructures production planned to be done in Brazil. “Brazilian industry will get everything from systems and weapons integration to a capability for future fighter design through this programme,” Ahlqvist explained.

We see opportunities in the near term in Europe (Bulgaria {willingness to haave an air force}, Croatia {initiating an acquisition programme in the not so far future}, Finland {RfI issued, working closely with Finnish government, one of the most important once for Saab}), then Asia (Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia),” he boasted “Africa is interesting, but except for South Africa, the other countries in Africa currently have no budget to buy new fighters, while the far future looks promising.” Botswana is a good potential customer for a lot of the Saab products, “we will see what the future holds,” he said.

On India, “we are monitoring the Indian situation very closely, there is a gap for a single engine aircraft and currently there are close talks between the two government.” Ahlqvist explained that the GRIPEN would energise the Indian aviation industry. “There could be a large amount of squadrons that need to be filled with aircraft,” he predicted. having no clear discussions with Indian industry yet, Ahlqvist said, “we have just defined on how we would do this.”

The Swedish and Slovakian government were in discussions, and with new government in place, there has been a pause in discussions for the eight aircraft needed. Saab is also monitoring Canada, amongst other countries.

The GRIPEN E is being designed with key features in mind (see earlier story today), and life cycle costs, “for this system will be lower than anything else on the market. The new avionic structure: We have flight critical avionics from tactical functionalities, so you can look at it like a smart phone, being able to upload apps without buying a new phone,” he concluded.