Saab will on 20 September receive the green light to remanufacture 31 of the Swedish air force's JAS 39A Gripen fighters to the enhanced C/D configuration, with the initiative to escape threatened fresh cuts to the nation's defence budget.
Approved by parliament earlier this year but subsequently held up by a government-wide spending review, the project will result in Sweden operating a common fleet of 100 Gripen C/Ds, with additional surplus aircraft to be made available for sale or lease (Flight International, 26 June-2 July).
Launch of the SKr4 billion ($580 million), six-year project will also underline Stockholm's continued commitment to invest in the aircraft's long-term development as Saab-led Gripen International seeks fresh export business for more than 200 of the aircraft among nations including Denmark, India, Norway and Romania.
Speaking at Saab's 70th anniversary celebrations in Linkoping on 31 August, Swedish defence minister Mikael Odenberg said: "The Gripen action plan has an industrial and defence spending logic.
There won't be any major shifts." A new study on Sweden's defence priorities will be presented to parliament next year, and Odenberg noted: "After that is the time for budgetary consequences."
India last month issued a request for proposals to Gripen International, plus Boeing, Dassault, EADS, Lockheed Martin and RSK MiG for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft.
The potentially $10.2 billion deal will cover an initial 86 single- and 40 two-seat fighters, but industry sources believe New Delhi could eventually buy up to 300 airframes.
"We have just received our first RFP in four years, but expect several others to follow within the next year," says Gripen International managing director Johan Lehander. These are likely to include a Romanian contest for 48 new fighters, he says.
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