Saab’s Aeronautics business unit enjoyed a strong first-quarter performance, with highlights including a Gripen C sale to Hungary and the transfer of a first Saab 340-based airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft to Poland.

Budapest on 23 February signed a deal with Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) for a follow-on batch of four new-build Gripens, to bolster its existing fleet of 14 C/D-model fighters.

Gripen C

Source: Saab

Gripen C production has resumed after Hungary ordered another four of the aircraft

Poland last year signed a deal with the FMV to acquire two used Saab 340 AEW aircraft, the lead example of which was flown to the nation recently.

“Soon we will deliver the second,” Saab chief executive Micael Johansson said during an earnings call on 26 April, without giving a detailed timeline.

Also during the first quarter, Saab received a contract to begin studying Sweden’s future combat air system needs.

“We have started the Next Gen discussion on how to complement the Gripen E – maybe with unmanned capability – and what comes beyond the Gripen E, which is many decades to come”, Johansson says. “This concept study, which includes demonstrations, is really important to us”.

But Saab’s financial performance in the Aeronautics sector continues to be impacted by its involvement on Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk advanced jet trainer, for which it manufactures the rear fuselage section in the USA.

Describing the activity as still involving “under-absorption” at its facility in West Lafayette, Indiana, Johansson says: “I would look at 2026 to get into profitable numbers”.

“We still have a year to go roughly before we are out of the contracts that we have now, which we have renegotiated to be something more profitable,” he says. A new arrangement is due to come into effect in the fourth quarter of 2025.

Boeing disclosed on 24 April that it had lost $94 million on the T-7A programme – which is currently in its low-rate initial production phase for the US Air Force – in the first three months of this year.

Meanwhile, regarding future business prospects, Johansson highlights a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) requirement as being among Saab’s current sales opportunities with the Gripen.

“Thailand needs to replace its [Lockheed Martin] F-16 wing,” he says, adding: “that process is now ongoing”. Cirium fleets data shows that the RTAF has 49 A/B-model examples of the US-built type in service, aged between 28 and 42 years, along with 11 Gripen C/Ds.

Saab also is eyeing Manila’s fighter requirements with interest.

“The Philippines is in the process of creating a stronger air force, and that is an important campaign to us,” Johansson says. The nation currently uses a dozen recently acquired Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 light combat aircraft as its lone fast-jet capability.

In Latin America, the company remains confident that Brazil will sign for a second production batch of Gripen E/Fs – it has so far ordered 36 locally-designated F-39E/Fs. Saab also is promoting the new-generation fighter to neighbouring Colombia.

Saab reported securing orders valued at SKr18.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in the first three months of 2024, representing a year-on-year increase of 9%, from Skr17 billion a year earlier. Sales rose by 24%, to reach Skr14.1 billion.

The company ended the first quarter with a backlog worth SKr158 billion.