May 24, 2014
Sweden May Fund Gripen-E Even Without International Partner
The government’s new, softer line, reinforced by the Ministry of Defense, puts the Gripen-E project into the category of “too big to fail.”
In the 2012 Gripen-E project agreement with Saab, the MoD stipulated that it held the right to rescind funding if an international partner could not be found to share costs and develop export markets for the aircraft. The Swedish state has already invested more than $300 million in the Gripen-E development program.
Sweden had long pinned its Gripen-E international partner hopes on Switzerland, but this avenue of cooperation was closed on May 18 when the Swiss rejected a government plan to spend $3.5 billion on acquiring 22 aircraft from Saab.
Saab has now turned its attention to Brazil. Sweden continues to negotiate a broad industry partnership to produce an initial 36 Gripen-Es for the Brazilian Air Force in cooperation with the country’s aerospace sector. Under this industrial program, Saab is building an aircraft production facility outside Sao Paulo.
Under a framework agreement signed in February 2013, Saab is contracted to deliver 60 Gripen-E aircraft to the Swedish Air Force. This could rise to 80 when the defense allocation is increased significantly after 2015 to accommodate an expanded 40-year Gripen-E program.