Saab has presented the Dutch defence ministry with a proposal for 85 Gripen NG (Next Generation) combat aircraft, with its move offering an alternative to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Responding to the Netherlands' F-16 replacement questionnaire marks Saab's formal re-emergence in the competition, with the nation's air force having in 2000 disqualified an offer based on a previous Gripen model. The Swedish design is now in contention in Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway all partners in the F-35 programme's system development and demonstration phase.

Saab Gripen NG

Saab's offer also includes training services, simulators, spare parts and support, plus industrial offsets to match the value of its all-inclusive proposal. The Gripen NG is a planned future production version to draw on technologies now being flight tested aboard the company's Gripen Demo testbed.

It is still not clear whether the Netherlands will hold a formal competition for its F-16 replacement deal, or simply continue with plans to buy the JSF.

Lockheed on 30 July delivered a bid based on the F-35, which it claims "affordably addresses the military, industrial and foreign policy objectives of the Netherlands". However, as a potential spoiler to its European rival, it also on 25 August provided information about its latest export-standard F-16.

Dassault and the Eurofighter consortium opted against responding with information about their Rafale and Typhoon designs, while Boeing was not invited to offer its F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet, as the Block I variant was rejected by the Dutch earlier this decade. However, the US company on 15 August submitted a proposal to meet Denmark's future fighter needs, responding to a May request for information on up to 48 aircraft.

Source: Flight International