Saab is ready to sell the Canadian government 88 Canada-built Gripen fighters should Ottawa require home-built aircraft.
The Swedish combat aircraft manufacturer cautions nothing is finalised and its offer will ultimately reflect Canada’s formal request for proposal (RFP). The company expects the final RFP to be issued around midyear by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
“As we have demonstrated in Brazil, and depending on the requirements of a customer, we can build fighter jets in countries other than Sweden,” says the company. “Gripen is the world’s most-modern multi-role aircraft and a perfect match to Canada’s operational requirements for NORAD defense and expeditionary missions. It is proven to operate in any climate, from arctic to desert.”
Canadian news outlet National Post first reported Saab’s openness to building the Gripen in Canada.
For the Brazilian air force Saab agreed to build 15 of 36 Gripens in Brazil as part of a technology transfer scheme. The company opened an aerostructure plant near Sao Paulo, which is to begin production in 2020 of large structural segments for the Gripen, such as tail cones, aerodynamic brakes, wing boxes and front and rear fuselages. Those pieces will be assembled at Embraer’s plant in Gavião Peixoto.
The company has also pitched New Delhi on manufacturing the Gripen in India. And, in cooperation with Boeing, the firm is building parts of the US Air Force’s T-X trainer jet in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The RCAF issued a draft request for proposal in October 2018 to an exclusive set of five potential suppliers to replace its Boeing CF-18A/B Hornet fleet.
The suppliers included Dassault Aviation, maker of Rafales; Saab, maker of JAS 39 Gripens; Airbus Defense, a major partner in the Eurofighter joint venture, which makes Typhoons; Lockheed Martin, maker of F-16s and F-35s; and Boeing, maker of F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-15E Strike Eagles.
The RCAF has said it plans to receive initial proposals from bidders between summer and winter 2019. A contract is anticipated to be awarded during the winter months of 2021-2022. Canada wants initial aircraft to be delivered in 2025, with initial operational capability achieved by 2026. The government wants all aircraft delivered by 2031 or 2032, at which time the CF-18 fleet will be retired.