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  • Swiss Switch For Gripen?
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 11:07 AM on Jun 22, 2009

    Saab did not have a booth or a chalet at Paris, let alone a demonstration airplane, but company leaders were there - including Gripen International managing director Johan Lehander.

    In an interview at Aviation Week's chalet, Lehander was optimistic about the fighter's chances in Brazil and Switzerland, "although politics and alliances always play a part." A key factor in Brazil, he says, is the growing strength of Embraer and other local companies - and the fact that, of the three competitors, only the Gripen NG gives them the chance to be full partners in a new development program. 

    In Switzerland, "a key issue is cooperation and the ability to offer a program that has a future." With the decision being somewhat delayed, Saab is considering whether to pitch the Gripen NG in the competition. "At the outset the requirement was for an aircraft that was already operational," Lehander says - but, he goes on to add, "the Swedish air force's plans are getting firmer."

    That doesn't mean, as yet, that Sweden is ready to commit to the NG in the absence of an export order. However, the RSwAF is committed to keeping Gripen in service, and updated, until 2040. 

    The Gripen Demo itself is currently on the ground after notching up more than 80 sorties in a year of testing. In the fall, flight tests will resume with a demonstrator radar from Selex - not Thales as originally planned - the new missile approach warning system, satcom and the NG's bigger external fuel tanks.

    This year's no-chalet experiment, by the way, is not likely to be repeated. "When the CEO says it, that means it will happen", says a company sources.

    Tags: ar99, gripen mg, switzerland

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