Sweden has begun the early stages of analysing its future fighter requirements with its Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) awarding contracts to Saab and GKN Aerospace to conduct concept studies for the aircraft and propulsion system, respectively.

Covering a two-year period running over 2024 and 2025, the studies are designed to pave the way for any future programme, analysing the air force’s requirements and the technologies needed to meet them. A follow-on phase is also contemplated.


Source: Saab

Saab is currently building Gripen E for the Swedish air force

“The aim is to provide a basis for a future decision on the choice of path for how to meet the materiel supply of combat aviation capabilities after 2040,” says the FMV.

“Furthermore, the activity must ensure national industrial capacity and know-how through studies, technology development and preparations for ground-based and flying demonstrators.”

Work will be carried out alongside Sweden’s armed forces and its Defence Research Agency.

“Considering the long development times, and the decisions that need to be made, it is good that the work starts now. It is also natural that the aviation industry participates with its knowledge in this phase,” says Lars Helmrich, head of aviation and space activities at the FMV.

Saab says its contract covers “conceptual studies of manned and unmanned solutions in a system-of-systems perspective, technology development and demonstrations”.

“Saab is in a strong position; having recently developed Gripen E and GlobalEye we have the advanced technology and engineering know-how to take the future fighter concept forward,” says Lars Tossman, head of Saab’s aeronautics business unit.

GKN Aerospace – which has strong links to the Gripen programme through its acquisition of Volvo Aero – will study the “power and propulsion systems for the next-generation of combat air capabilities”, it says.

“GKN Aerospace will seek and develop collaboration with partners working with a range of power and propulsion systems and disruptive technologies, which are expected to play an important role for any future air combat capability.”

Saab and GKN Aerospace have also struck a new co-operation agreement to strengthen an existing innovation partnership.

Sweden’s unilateral approach raises the prospect of a third sixth-generation fighter being developed in Europe, alongside the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) between Italy, Japan and the UK, and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) initiative for France, Germany and Spain.

Although it was initially part of a next-generation fighter study with the UK, Stockholm opted against participating in GCAP in 2023.

Recent overtures from France – and a new defence co-operation pact between the two nations that included an air defence element – have led to speculation that Sweden might also join the FCAS programme.