Saab launches attack on Norway's 'faulty' fighter analysis

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Saab has launched a fierce attack on the assessment process which led the Norwegian government to eliminate its Gripen NG design last month in favour of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, accusing the nation of conducting "an incomplete, or even faulty, analysis".

The Swedish manufacturer has highlighted numerous claimed flaws in Oslo's evaluation process in aspects including acquisition and life-cycle costs and operational capability, and says: "The arguments put forward seemed to have very little, or no, establishment in the preceding procurement process. It sounded like the description of another aircraft."

The Norwegian government on 20 November eliminated the Gripen NG from its Lockheed F-16 replacement contest, saying that the aircraft had been assessed as more expensive than the JSF and unable to fully meet its air force requirements.

 
© Gripen International

But Saab says the evaluation committee's calculations increased the number of aircraft supplied from 48 to 58, and stretched their planned service lives from 25 to 35 years, incorrectly inflating the cost of its fixed-price Gripen offer. The committee also made incorrect assumptions on fuel use and the likely cost of future upgrades using past experience with the F-16 as a model, which it says resulted in cost estimates being "several times higher" than its own figures.

Saab says Oslo's selection process was also "founded on simulations previously unknown to us. Those simulations must be based on incomplete performance indication, because such information about Gripen has neither been communicated to us nor requested from us or the Swedish government."

Norway also made what Saab describes as a "completely unfounded" evaluation assumption that almost half of the new aircraft would crash, adding further billions to the deal's expected value. "It is Saab's assessment that only 20% of the Norwegian evaluation committee's cost estimates are based on the facts presented," it adds in a 10 December statement.

Also questioning the exchange rate and pricing data used by the committee in reaching its recommendation, Saab says: "If the claimed estimates are correct it would be cheaper for Norway to obtain JSF, even if Sweden would have developed and given 48 Gripen NGs as a gift." It adds that a guarantee to create work in Norway worth NKr50 billion ($7.1 billion) in exchange for a Gripen acquisition also "seemed not to have been of any greater importance" in the decision-making process.

"Claims of Gripen's insufficient performance and high costs are not founded on recognised facts and experiences," says Saab, which adds that it remains confident of meeting a target to sell a further 200 Gripens to export customers.