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The Smart Fighter

Quick Launch


Gripen1111.jpgIn cooperation with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), during end June 2013, defence and security company Saab successfully conducted its first test firing of the version of the Meteor radar-controlled air-to-air missile, developed for mass production. Gripen was thus the first combat fighter system in the world with the capability to fire this version of the Meteor, which has been developed for Gripen, Eurofighter and Rafale.

The first two Meteor missiles in mass production configuration were fired for the first time from Gripen at a remote-controlled target. The test firing demonstrated separation from the aircraft and the link function between the aircraft and missile, as well as the missile's ability to lock in on the target. The test firing was also used to verify the command support that has been developed for the pilot.

“Testing has been completed as planned and we've now taken yet another important step in work with integration and development of Gripen C/D,” says Michael Östergren, FMV's project manager for the Meteor. “I'm impressed with the results that we've jointly accomplished and it instills considerable confidence in continued work with integrating the Meteor on Gripen.”

Read the full story:  Gripen First To Fire Meteor Missile​

​“Maintaining quality through R&D and global presence is how we work,” says Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe, highlighting the importance of Research and Development through his presentation ‘Breaking The Thought Barrier’ at the Paris Air Show this year.


Saab is already working on extensive co-operation with universities around the world, arranging international student competitions to bring in fresh and innovative ideas.

“We are increasing our spending in R&D. When I started in 2010, we spent 20% of our turnover on R&D and last year it was 25%. We are investing for the future. Even though things are getting tougher, we believe that if we want to be able to compete and supply the security market and the defence forces around the world, we need to invest now. We need to have the right products in 5 -10 years,” said Buskhe.

Buskhe also added that investing in R&D cannot be delayed. “The development especially on sensors and radars are going very rapidly. One day’s loss will give you many years’ delay,” he explains.

“So we are investing on R&D and that is the best insurance we have for our business going forward,” he says.

Read the full presentation here.​

​“Today, air combat is very much about gaining information, getting the situational awareness and having information advantage. It is about sensors; your own onboard sensors, your body sensors, sensors from ground and so on. So it is about getting all the information gathered and fusioned in a way that each operators can use,” says Lennart Sindhal, Head of Business Area Aeronautics, Saab in his presentation​  'Gripen-The Crown Of Swedish Aviation Industry.'

Sindhal’s presentation highlights that it is important to have an advanced sensor fusion, balanced design and a highly dynamic adaptive tactics among other things. A small logistical footprint is also essential as it lets the operators relocate efficiently for their international operations.

Sindhal stresses that air combat is also about balancing the design of the system. “As you will see, the Gripen E is not squeezed in a way that is extremely stealthy because we do not believe in that for several reasons. One reason of course is that if you arrive in something stealthy out in the darkness what is the good of being there when you have very few weapons underneath because you cannot carry more than two missiles in your internal weapon bay,” Sindhal explains.

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Operation analyst and fighter pilot Bjorn Danielsson describes the air combat scenario a bit further with the picture above by saying, “This picture shows a BVR situation and this area is approximately 100/100 kilometers and these pilots don’t really see each other. I want to emphasize that if you go for stealth, you will have to prioritize ...

An article on Atlantic Community's 
website​ had good things to say about Gripen’s capabilities demonstrated during the Libyan mission.

The mission in Libya was Sweden's first air deployment after the 1960’s United Nations operation in the Congo. During the mission, the Swedish planes flew 570 operations and some of these missions were simply police enforcement of the no-fly zone. 

Overall, Sweden provided 2,770 reconnaissance reports to NATO. Due to past training exercises with the Allies, and because of the excellent capabilities evident in its Gripen aircraft, Sweden deserves high marks for the quality of its interoperable defences and excellent troops, the article says.

Read the full story  here​

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The Kecskemet International Air Show will take place next week on August 3 and 4 and Hungarian Gripen pilots are all set to perform at the event.

According to International Air Show’s  website, the air show will take place for nearly 7 hours on both days of the event. Besides solo performances, many formations of military, civilian and old aircraft will be featured.

The first air show at Kecskemét was held on 18 and 19 August 1990. This year, over 100,000 guests are expected to attend the event. In addition to the aerial displays and performances, the airbase would also have a lot on the ground display. 

According to the Air Show’s website, Gripens from Hungary are expected to fly at more than 10 shows in Europe this year, adding to the reputation of the Hungarian Air Force. Hungarian Gripen pilots are preparing to attend the Kecskemét Air Show with a formation featuring several aircraft.

For registration and information on tickets, please visit International Air Show’s website

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With the economic meltdown, defence budgets are facing major cuts around the world. Demands are getting tougher day by day. According to Saab’s CEO Hakan Buskhe’s  presentation ‘Breaking The Thought Barrier’, these tough demands however can benefit Saab.

“Our customers always demand more functions for less cost and that is rather unique in the defence industry. It is normal for other industries. But I believe that it is possible also in our business,” Buskhe says. 

He also stressed that these tougher demands have changed the market equation and competitiveness along with efficiency is the key thing now.

“Being a rather big defence company in a small country, spending 1 billion US dollars a year on R&D, we have to be lean as the Swedish state cannot bear all our investments. So we invest ourselves.”

There is an increased demand for an aircraft with multi role capabilities at an economical price. “This is something that will change the purchase pattern,” he says.

Read the full presentation here:  Breaking The Thought Barrier​

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Saab has signed 37 contracts for 54 million Swiss francs this year so far including 12 new contracts in Switzerland, reports swissinfo.

By the end of last year, Saab had realized SIP business worth 250 million francs, completing orders from 102 Swiss companies. According to the report, a quarter of these contracts come from French speaking Switzerland. 

The turnover of the companies in the French speaking Switzerland is however only 15% of the total, though Saab aims to bring it to 30%. "We are not there yet, but things will improve soon," says Saab spokesman Mike Helmy.

According to an another report in agefi, Markus Niederhauser, President of the French-speaking group for defense equipment and security said that business contracts are planned to take place first in the French-speaking Switzerland before spreading further to Sarine.

In May, Director of Marketing for Europe Saab, Richard Smith was quoted saying, “A percentage of 30% of the amount should be reserved for French-speaking Switzerland, 65% in German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino 5%. The share of the pie reserved for Romandie exceeds its population quota, because we recognized that it actually contributes to 30% of Swiss GDP."

Earlier this year, Saab visited Zurich, Geneva, Payerne, Martigny, Hitzkirch and Lucerne to inform regional manufacturers about the opportunities for Swiss Industrial Participation (SIP) and to find new business partners linked to the potential Swiss acquisition of 22 Gripen E fighters.

Saab is committed to deliver SIP of at least 300 million before the Gripen ...

“What a ride, my eyes wobbled frantically between the aircraft instruments and the sky that engulfed me,” says Xavier Alonso, describing his experience of flying the Gripen with test pilot Hakan Wallen.

In an exclusive report in Tribune DeGeneve, Xavier Alonso talks all about the 45 minutes he spent flying the Gripen and that he felt like a knight of the sky for a while bringing back all the memories of comics of Tanguy and Laverdure, Håkan Wallen being Michel Tanguy.

As Gripen slowed and stabilized its speed over the sea,  Alonso was asked if he felt good. “I spluttered in my mask a response that expressed both the happiness in my head dealing with this new sensation and the discomfort of a knotted stomach.”​

Image Courtesy: Helena Lundin

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"We have received a number of new inquiries about Gripen from many Asian countries. Several of them have come up in the last 3-6 months," said Hakan Buskhe, CEO, Saab to Direkt last Friday.

According to the news report, despite weak market conditions, interest for Gripen has shot up in Asia recently.

"Our system is very well suited to the Asian market. The Thai use of Gripen has been noted," Buskhe said.

In April this year, Thailand received three new Gripens from Sweden's Defense Export Agency FMV, bringing Royal Thai Air Force's Gripen fleet to nine.


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Over the next few weeks, we will recap some of the stories that have made news in the first half of 2013.

“Sales of the current models of Gripen and the next generation model may exceed 300 units in the next two decades.” says Eddy de La Motte, head of Gripen Exports.

According to a Bloomberg news report earlier this year, Saab is hopeful about Gripen’s export prospects as F-35 buyers are considering other option now due to budget constraints.“We can now offer a fixed price, fixed performance and fixed timetable,” Eddy said. “The outlook is better than anything I have seen.”

Read the full story: Saab Says Gripen Export Chances Rise as F-35 Buyers Review Plans

Image: Peter Liander

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