Sweden has extended its commitment to developing the JAS39 Gripen combat aircraft by awarding Saab a new four-year contract to enhance the type's capabilities.

Placed by nation's Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and worth SKr2 billion ($280 million), the new order will lead to the installation of upgraded communications and countermeasures equipment.

Saab will also introduce "measures to further reduce operating costs", the company says, with these supported by the experience of more than 130,000 flying hours in Swedish air force service.

The FMV's award also covers the integration of new weapons - understood to be the US-produced Small Diameter Bomb - with the Gripen C/D. The range performance of the model's Ericsson PS-05/A fire control radar will also be increased.

Saab says the work will be split between its Arboga, Gothenburg, Järfälla, Kista and Linköping plants.

Separately, Saab says its lone Gripen NG Demonstrator (below) made its 117th test flight on 12 March.

 Gripen Demo - Stefan Kalm Gripen International
© Stefan Kalm/Gripen International

Trials work to validate the aircraft's increased-capacity fuel system and missile approach warners has been completed, and current activities are centred on its communications equipment and Selex Galileo ES05 Raven active electronically scanned array radar, the company says.

Source: Flight International