Saab still confident of making repeat Gripen sale to Thailand

Bangkok
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Saab is still waiting for Thailand to confirm an order for its next batch of six Gripen fighters, and says it not certain whether a decision on the deal will be made next year.

Bangkok ordered six Gripen C/Ds in 2008 as part of a deal that also included one Saab 340-based airborne early warning and control aircraft. A repeat order had been expected to be approved earlier this year, but the Thai government has delayed this due to the effects of the global financial crisis.

"We are waiting for Thailand to confirm the order. We are confident that it will come, it is just a matter of when," says Saab.

The Swedish company conducted the first flight of a Thai Gripen - a two-seat D-model - from its Linköping site in mid-September and will begin deliveries to the nation's air force in 2011.

 
© Stefan Kalm/Saab
Thailand's first Gripen made its debut flight in September

Four Royal Thai Air Force pilots will travel to Sweden next year to begin training activities, and two Swedish Gripen pilots will be based in Thailand from late 2010 to further assist the service.

Meanwhile, Saab and Thai company Avia Satcom have formed a new joint venture to develop products for the aviation and defence markets.

The companies will initially focus on the development of a tactical datalink for use by Thailand's Gripens, but could later expand their co-operation to also include command and control systems, simulators, mission support systems and electronic warfare equipment. Other possible activities could include logistics support, training and upgrade activities, says Saab.

"The joint venture will offer locally developed products for the Thai armed forces and the export market. It will also bring investments and leading edge technology to Thailand, and create highly advanced job opportunities for Thai professionals," says Kaj Rosander, Saab's campaign director for Gripen in Thailand.