Late last month, a Saab JAS 39C Gripen fired two examples of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. They were the first production-representative rounds of the weapon to be fired as the Meteor program gears up to deliver operational capability beginning early next year. The missiles were launched at remotely controlled targets at the Vidsel range in northern Sweden. They validated the datalink between the launch aircraft and the missiles, as well as the weapon’s ability to lock on. The trials also verified the command support that has been developed for the pilot.
Swedish Air Force
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.
Sweden and Switzerland have reached agreement on sharing the cost to develop and introduce the next-generation version of the Saab Gripen fighter. The Swedish defense ministry said there are good opportunities for synergies, including training, maintenance and future upgrades.
Having selected the Gripen E/F to fulfill its F-5 replacement requirement, the Swiss air force is calmly confident that the acquisition makes it through the political process unscathed. Lt. Gen. Markus Gygax, the air force chief of staff, spoke to AIN last month about his service’s plans for the machine.
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.”
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.
The Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency presented details concerning a proposal to supply Saab Gripen fighters to the Croatian air force on October 14.
Since April 22 the Swedish air force Gripens have been conducting operations over Libya as part of the NATO response to UNSCR 1973. Sweden already maintained a unit of eight aircraft on a deployment alert for the Nordic Battle Group, and it was these aircraft that were sent to Sigonella in Sicily. They arrived within 23 hours of the parliamentary approval for the operation, their participation being sponsored by full NATO member Denmark.
The Saab Gripen Demo, a two-seat technology demonstrator, is one month into its latest phase of a trials campaign aimed at showing off technologies and modifications, which could be applied to the basic design in upgrades and new-build machines. The aircraft is on display in the Paris Air Show static area (Stand 132).
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.
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