A plan for the industrial and technological base of future European military aerospace moved forward with the signing of a contract for a one-year study to be conducted by Sweden’s Saab group. Alexander Weis, chief executive of the European Defence Agency, and Mats Palmberg, vice president and head of business development and marketing for Saab Aeronautics, signed the agreement, valued at approximately $512,000, here at the Farnborough show.
The Saab Gripen NG demonstrator arrives at Farnborough today on the second leg of its international public debut, having spent the weekend at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford (seen in this photo). The Swedish government, which owns the aircraft, granted permission for its trip to the UK only on Thursday.
Sweden became the first export customer for the Textron/AAI Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aircraft system when a contract for two Shadow systems was finally completed on May 18. The contract was to be signed in 2008, but was deferred due to budgetary problems.
Sweden is advancing its own Gripen development path alongside that of the Gripen Next Generation aircraft intended for export, which is currently awaiting the outcome of major competitions in Brazil and India. The Swedish air force is now talking openly about a JAS 39E/F version that would draw on many of the technologies being applied to the NG program.
Developed originally by Ericsson Microwave Systems (now part of Saab Electronic Defence Systems’ business area), the Carabas foliage penetration (FOPEN) radar has been around for some time, but it has been improved significantly so it can see under the ground, and has been miniaturized so it can be carried by unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).
Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion.
Breaking with a tradition that has seen major military procurements signed and announced only in Abu Dhabi, the UAE government sealed deals for new training and AEW&C aircraft during the Dubai Airshow this month. Pilatus secured the new basic trainer, an order for 25 PC-21s worth $521 million, to also include several training simulators with all systems and services.
The Saab 340 AEW&C aircraft with Erieye radar, which is destined for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), took to the skies for the first time on Friday, flying from Saab’s Linkoping plant where airborne early warning and control conversion work is undertaken. Thailand has one AEW&C aircraft on order (plus another option), as part of a deal involving Gripen fighters.
Last year the production version of the Saab BAMSE (Bofors advanced missile system evaluation) entered service with the Swedish armed forces and now the company is promoting the air defense system for export.
Last month Saab announced a partnership with Ultra Electronics’ UK-based Communication and Integrated Systems division covering the joint exploration and exploitation of the market for vertical takeoff and land unmanned aerial vehicle systems (VTUAS). Earlier, in May, Saab announced another partnership with Swiss UAV, which added the Neo and Koax vehicles to create a VTUAS family along with the Saab-developed Skeldar.