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According to Saab executives, the decision to go ahead with the Gripen Next Generation has already been taken by the Swedish government. If Saab wins one or more of the upcoming fighter competitions - with Brazil and Switzerland among those closest to a decision date - it will affect the timing of Sweden's own deployment of the Gripen NG, already identified by the Swedish military as the JAS 39E/F. But the decision to acquire the fighter has already been taken, according to head of Gripen marketing and campaigns Hans Rosen."Sweden has committed itself to using the Gripen beyond 2040," Rosen said at Malmen air base on Saturday. "The question is when to acquire the Gripen NG, and how many." The basic program calls for the new variant to enter service in 2017-18, but Sweden has told export customers that it will adjust its schedule so that Sweden deploys the JAS 39E/F before they do.SaabRosen's comments on the future of the Gripen in Sweden echoed remarks made by defense minister Sten Tolgfors at a top-level air power conference held at Malmen on Friday. Tolgfors noted that the modernization of the Gripen force is proceeding according to plan, with the conversion of a final batch of 31 JAS 39A models to 39C standard, leaving the air force with a smaller force of 100 fighters. The next step will see all these aircraft modernized to a common configuration known as Materiel Standard 20, already under contract.The MS 21 configuration is being defined - but it is now clear that MS 21 is in fact the NG, with the new General Electric F414G engine, modified airframe, Selex Galileo active electronically scanned array radar and new core avionics. It is understood that development is being quietly funded by the Swedish government. The Demo prototype had completed 152 flight test sorties as of Saturday, Rosen said, and completed a successful demonstration in India in May (the company previously performed demonstrations with the C/D version in India) including a successful landing and restart at the Leh airfield in Kashmir, 10,800 feet above sea level. It is currently testing new external stores and will then enter a lay-up period for avionics updates.
ar99, gripenNG, Sweden
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