Strengthening interest in the Gripen E has prompted Saab to accelerate its investment in the programme, with the step to include the introduction of enhancements intended to heighten the product's attractiveness to prospective buyers.
"Due to the strong interest in Gripen E/F, Saab has now accelerated the pace of investment to develop the system for future exports," the company disclosed in a quarterly results announcement on 26 April.
Chief executive Håkan Buskhe describes the measure as relating to "industrialisation, and also some key development on features for the export market". While he declines to identify specific updates, he notes: "There are things that will enhance the product that we have seen during the development time for the Gripen E." This process began for launch customer the Swedish air force in 2013.
Buskhe says Saab received fresh interest in the new-generation fighter from several undisclosed nations during the first three months of this year. The company cites a long list of prospective customers for the type, including Austria, Bulgaria, India and Slovakia.
Saab will deliver its first production examples of the Gripen E to Sweden and export buyer Brazil next year and the nations will receive a combined total of 96 examples up to 2026. Buskhe says the level of interest being shown in the product is consistent with previous forecasts of a total production run of at least 400 units.
Meanwhile, referring to a 25 April declaration of intent between Airbus Defence & Space and Dassault to jointly pursue a development activity for a broad-ranging European future combat air system, Buskhe says: "We have many open doors, to see what we can do, and maybe if there is a place for us or not," referring to the possibility of a wider industrial collaboration.
But he also sees the bilateral announcement as representing a clear opportunity for the Gripen E. Describing the pact as "a signal to the market that the [Dassault] Rafale and Eurofighter [Typhoon] are in the end of their development programmes", he notes: "We have a period of time where we can deliver the best aircraft."