Wikileaks shows US played AESA trick on Gripen in Norway

It was September 2008 in Oslo, and a member of the US embassy named “Whitney” was very worried about the Saab Gripen’s bid for Norway’s fighter contract.

“Public opinion has swung away from the F-35 due to negative coverage,” he wrote in a non-classified cable titled “Norway Fighter Purchase: High-Level Advocacy Needed Now”.

The consequences of Norway selecting the Gripen gravely worried the US embassy, according to the cable obtained by Wikileaks and disclosed this morning by the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“Norway’s decision on this purchase will either end or sustain one of the strongest pillars of our bilateral relationship and could impact subsequent Danish and Dutch decisions on the F-35, affecting NATO joint operational capacity and the vulnerability of the Northern Flank,” the diplomat identified only as Whitney wrote in the cable.

It was an important decision, and the US had to play its cards carefully.

But the embassy had already acted to thwart Gripen’s bid in Norway behind the scenes. Saab had previously requested that the US approve a Raytheon-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar — a key upgrade as the non-stealthy Gripen competed against the stealthy, Northrop Grumman AESA-equipped F-35 in Norway. Because the AESA was American technology, the US was not obligated to release the radar to a foreign competitor.

So it didn’t.

“Given this potential impact of AESA releasability on the Norway competition, and possibly the Denmark competition,” says a US cable dated 8 July, “we suggest postponing the decision on AESA releasability for the Gripen until after Norway’s decision in December.”

On 20 November 2008, the Norway ministry of defense strongly recommended the F-35 and — in a move that surprised even the US embassy, according to 25 November cable — sharply criticized the Gripen’s capabilities.

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10 Responses to Wikileaks shows US played AESA trick on Gripen in Norway

  1. Pseudonymous 3 December, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    No suprises there, that’s how the game is played. Still interesting to see it confirmed.

    The Swedes should perhaps consider going on a non-US route for any upcoming military projects however, seeing as this is something that has repeated it self ad infinitum over history.

    Just on the top of my head: When gripen competed against Hornet in the finnish tender, the approval for AMRAAM that was delayed until after the tender was complete. Seems to be pretty similair to what happend this time around.

    Similairly when Sweden struck a deal with India over Viggen’s, US embargoed the sale of the engine that powered the Viggens. Making the Indians chose Jaguar’s in stead.

  2. aeroxavier 3 December, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    USA make his own destruction
    in the term swedish going to develop one new radar and kick the USA off the gripen.
    That was every where similar to others programs.

    the security of NATO was in danger if they don’t take f-35, oh yeah certainly….

  3. pb 3 December, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Benson Whitney was the US ambassador to Oslo Norway from Nov 2006 thru Oct 2009

  4. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Nice one. Thanks!

  5. JasonK 3 December, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Kind of like the same way the French turned their back with the Gripen AESA antenna? Wasn’t it French pressure on Thales/Dassault that eventually forced Thales to limit the AESA develoment to just the Gripen Demo, and not support production of an AESA antenna for Gripen NG because the Gripen was proving too competitve in the Brazilian and Indian tenders?

    I don’t understand what all the hoopla is about…

  6. Uwe 3 December, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    Was/Is Whitney diplomatic career or complimentary (like forex Timken and Murphy in Germany) ?

  7. jetcal1 3 December, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    JK…
    France good
    USA evil

  8. Pseudonymous 3 December, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Thales did not pull their offer, it was rejected by SAAB. SAAB was seeking an AESA front-end to be coupled with their own back-end, the french only offered the solution as a whole.

    The Raytheon radar had already been used as a front-end, designated NORA III in Ericcson Micrwoave (now SAAB EDS) Not-Only-Radar AESA R&D programme.

  9. Lugo 6 December, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    I hope I’m not expected to feel bad about this…

  10. Tia Defiguero 8 December, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Nice info, I’ve linked it from my website.

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