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The Smart Fighter

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The upgrade known in Swedish term as MS20 involves a whole series of improvements and new functionality, both in terms of the aircraft itself and the ancillary support and training systems.​ Saab knows that its customers need a reliable, affordable and available fighter, against all threats, today and tomorrow. And that is why it makes Gripen. 

During the celebrations marking the 90th anniversary of the Swedish Air Force, Defense & Aerospace Report​ took the opportunity to speak to Ulf Nilsson, Senior Vice President and Head of Aeronautics, Saab, on the philosophy that drives the making and development of Gripen E and what makes the approach fundamentally different.

Future technology is, of course, hard to predict even three to four years down the line. Looking back 10-15 years, the pace of technology development could be predicted, but not so with the coming of the digital revolution. “Earlier, the pace of development of technology was setting the pace of development of capabilities of the fighter system. Not anymore though. This is a big change and the development platform has to be able to cope with this kind of a change,” says Nilsson. 

Keeping that in mind, Gripen E is created to be relevant even if the technology of today becomes obsolete tomorrow. That is one of the best features of the new Gripen: its flexibility, preserved in a balanced design, makes it extremely adaptable. 

Built upon the strong base of proven C/D platform, Gripen E redefines air-defence systems with its exciting new capabilities and significant cost reduction. Not only does Gripen E have what it takes to fly safely, when it comes to tactical and functional developments, it has more of an ‘app-based development’ approach, which makes it easier to upgrade the aircraft from time to time. “This is one of the major leaps forward when it ...

​Are you ready to fly? If yes, here is your chance to experience Gripen like never before. Download the 'Gripen Fighter Challenge' game and be ready to rule the sky.

Gripen Fighter Challenge is now available both for iOS and Android. You can download the game here and here.

The first Gripen fighter took to the skies in the early eighties. Smart had not yet become synonymous with the latest must-have mobile phone. Could you use it to describe the thinking at Saab at the time? Absolutely. One could argue that the Gripen system could not have been achieved without it. ​

The first Gripen was born of a specific need for a new type of fighter system. Not only did it have to out-perform other fighters on numerous levels but it also had to answer budget constrictions set by the Swedish ministry of defense. Gripen was not only to be a highly technologically ‘smart’- fully computerized for example, at a time when neither the computers nor the systems existed. But additionally, Gripen was born of a smart design mentality rooted in evolutionary thinking. Put simply by Lars Sjöberg, head of Research and Design at Saab’s business area Aeronautics, “the smart process is to make the complex simple”.

Read the full story here.

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Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Material Administration, FMV, for continued technical support for Gripen C/D. The order value amounts to SEK 129 million.

“This order will ensure continued efficient operations of technical support for Gripen C/D, ensuring that the customer's availability requirements are met in the best possible way,” says Ellen Molin, head of business unit Gripen Support, within Saab business area Support and Services.

With the new MS20 upgrade, Gripen is the world’s first and only combat aircraft to be operational with the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM missile. The MS20 upgrade also includes enhanced air-to-ground-capabilities i.e. the Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) for a high-precision, long-range strike capability. A smart launcher can carry four SDBs, with a maximum of 16 mmmmon a single Gripen.

The deliveries will take place between 2017 and 2019.

Read the full story here.

Bulgaria has sent requests for proposals to Italy, Portugal, the United States and Sweden for the delivery of multi-role fighter jets.

Bulgaria is looking for a NATO compatible fighter to replace its ageing Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighters. It was earlier this year in March when the Bulgarian government gave a go-ahead to a fighter procurement programme. 

Besides Gripen, the shortlisted aircraft include second-hand F-16 from Portugal, equipped with U.S. weaponry and second-hand Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from Italy.

According to Reuters, the four countries have three months to reply.

Read the full story here.

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Canadian company Héroux-Devtek has been awarded a contract to deliver landing gear systems for Gripen E fighters, reports UPI.

“Héroux-Devtek is proud to further enhance its long-standing relationship with Saab. Our U.K. operations have designed and manufactured landing gear systems for previous variants of the Gripen aircraft and this new contract acknowledges their expertise on an important program," said Martin Brassard, Vice-President and CEO of Héroux-Devtek.

Héroux-Devtek will manufacture, assemble and deliver complete landing gear systems for the 96 Gripen E fighters being developed for the Swedish and the Brazilian Air Force.

There has been a great interest in Gripen ever since Brazil announced its decision to acquire 36 Swedish fighters. The aircraft is being considered by several other countries and this contract also has an option for Saab to award the manufacturing of additional complete landing gear systems to Héroux-Devtek.

The deliveries of the landing gear systems are expected to begin next year.

Read the full story here.

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“We have two very good products, the Gripen C/D and E, and interest in both planes is very large. The most interesting aspect of the new model is that it is designed to withstand far more complex and high-tech missions. It can be flown longer, it can carry heavier weapons and is built for the future. The most advanced technology available is in the new Gripen”, says Richard Smith, Head of Gripen Marketing in an interview with Expressen

On being asked about price, Richard said that it all depends on the model and the package selected by the customer. But he added that Saab has a unique proposition with the Gripen, both in terms of price and operational cost.  

Richard added that Saab is very active in the market right now. Potential Gripen customers include Colombia, Canada and Finland. Saab is waiting for a Request For Information from Belgium. Negotiations with Slovakia are in full swing and the company is hopeful about a potential deal in Croatia as well.

Saab is also planning to offer Gripen to Switzerland again. "We're going to make a new effort in Switzerland, and I seriously believe that we will win," he said.

Read the full interview here.

Saab is supporting Swedish equestrian and dressage rider Patrik Kittel - an important role model in the sport. Last week Kittel tried  a different kind of horsepower. Looks like he enjoyed his ride.

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The Governments of Slovakia and Czech Republic have signed an agreement that will lead to closer cooperation between the two countries for the protection of their combined airspace, reports

Both the countries have been conducting mutual air surveillance missions for more than two years now. The treaty, approved by the Slovak government, deepens this existing partnership and takes it to the next level.

The two countries protect their airspaces under NATO's integrated system of anti-aircraft and missile defence (NATINAMDS). This bilateral cooperation means they will share the cost of maintenance and pilot training. If there is a temporary loss of capacity to respond to threats, the neighbouring country will step up and enter the incapacitated country's airspace.

Read the full storym here.

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