Jun 16, 2014
Swedish Gripen Es to be new-build rather than re-manufactured
The country's parliament is said to have agreed the move to procure newly-built aircraft as opposed to re-manufactured Gripen Cs some weeks ago, and approved the decision by a large majority. The move was prompted by a need to keep the Swedish Air Force's Gripen C fleet at full strength until the service fully transitions over to the Gripen E.
Under the terms of the original production contract awarded in December 2013, Saab was to convert 60 of SwAF's Gripen C platforms into the latest-variant Gripen E. The air force's 25 Gripen Ds would remain in service as lead-in fighter trainers until the full fleet of Gripen Es are delivered by 2026.
Gripen C and Gripen E share little in terms of common structures and systems.
It is not thought that this contract amendment will affect the Gripen E delivery schedule of 2018 through to 2026. Price tag for the 60 aircraft remains unchanged.
Besides maintaining the SwAF's frontline fighter strength, the change in the production contract also resulted in freeing up a larger pool of Gripen C aircraft which can be leased to prospective Gripen E customers while they await their new aircraft - this was something that both Switzerland and Brazil had requested. While the SwAF had agreed to both of these countries borrowing some of its Gripen Cs, not much spare capacity was left for it to agree to too many more such requests.
Sweden is also considering an increase in the numbers of aircraft to be procured to 70. The SwAF had originally requested between 60 and 80, and the recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine have refocused the political agenda to national defence.