Saab moved to counter opponents of its Gripen NG programme yesterday by outlining its ambitious plans to sell the type to nations from a lengthy list of potential buyers, including Brazil and India.
With its two-seat demonstrator now having flown more than 175 times, Saab Aeronautics managing director Lennart Sindahl says: "We are very happy with our position on the NG, and with our suppliers."
Responding to scepticism voiced by some rival fighter manufacturers, he says: "Come down and see the 'paper' aeroplane."
© Peter Liander/Saab
Saab assembled representatives from supplier companies APPH, General Electric, Martin-Baker and Selex Galileo to underscore the maturity of its demonstrator programme, which is de-risking technologies for a next-generation Gripen that is planned to enter service from 2015.
The aircraft on show here since Monday returned from an evaluation campaign in India during May, where Gripen says "everything worked like clockwork".
Saab has already been in discussion with Selex over a capability insertion roadmap for the aircraft's Raven Active Electronically Scanned Array radar stretching out over some 20-30 years, says Bob Mason, the latter's vice-president of marketing and sales.
Gripen marketing director Hans Rosen says the company is optimistic about entering the final phase of India's 126-platform medium multi-role combat aircraft contest after the NG's long-range journey. "I am confident we will make it," he says. "We really maximised our chances."
New Delhi is continuing its evaluation process after flying the Gripen and rival Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 and RSK MiG-35.
A decision in Brazil, where the NG is again up against the Super Hornet and Typhoon is now "with the politicians", Rosen says. Meanwhile, the company is not neglecting other sales opportunities, he adds. "Today we have activities in 17 countries, and have also started some talks outside of those."