Can you brief us on Saab’s activities in the region?
Saab is a global company which has been present in the region for many decades. The company has been active in the Asia-Pacific region from South Korea, India, the ASEAN countries and right down under to Australia and New Zealand. Saab has divided the organization into six market areas, corresponding to different parts of the world. This gives more responsibilities to local employees and to come closer to the customers.
Market Area Asia Pacific has its headquarter in Bangkok, and we have offices in seven other capital cities in the region. We are in one of the few places in the world where the market is on the increase with all the countries in the region having an underlying economic growth. The region has recently come out of the financial crisis and was not so badly hit by the ongoing Euro crisis.
In Thailand we have joined forces with a local company, AVIA Satcom. We entered into this strategic partnership in 2011 by acquiring 37% ownership of the company. AVIA Satcom is Thailand's leading company in the area of advanced technology and I am convinced that our partnership is a good opportunity for Saab to increase our engagement in Thailand and together we will provide high-tech products and solutions to the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
Can you brief us on your involvement in the development of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) air defence system?
The RTAF has procured the Gripen and AEW&C aircraft. In addition, Saab and our local partners have developed a dedicated and secure Thai Data Link system. This allows the RTAF to have total control of their data link network at all times. What is also important is that they have integrated naval assets into the system. Now the RTAF and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) can share the same information and have the same situational awareness.
The Gripen program includes:
• Two ERIEYE Airborne Early Warning Systems (AEW) mounted on Saab 340 regional aircraft.
• Command and Control System including Data Link.
• A Saab 340 aircraft for air / ground crew training and transport purposes.
• Air-to-Surface missiles.
• Transfer of technology and Industrial Cooperation.
The Swedish proposal included the delivery of twelve Gripen fighter aircraft in two batches. Also included in the package was
- In-Country Support
- Training of air and ground crew
- Mission Support Equipment
- Ground Support Equipment
As part of the Swedish proposal, Saab is transferring 100 man-years of advanced aerospace technologies to Thailand. The transfer of technology is designed to sustain and positively enhance the aerospace and defense industry in Thailand through long-term partnerships.
The first batch of Gripen fighters for the Royal Thai Air Force was delivered in February 2011 and they are based at Wing 7 in Surat Thani in the southern part of the country.
Can you brief us on some of the attributes of the Gripen aircraft?
The Gripen is an extremely capable fighter aircraft with true multi-role capability and is cost effective to operate over the long run, as opposed to the bigger twin-engined competitors. In a recent IHS Jane’s study of six aircraft, based on assessment from primary and secondary sources, it was concluded that estimated cost per flight hour (CPFH) of the Gripen is the lowest at $4,700.
The open design of the Gripen allows for full payload flexibility and a full range of weapon integration options. Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role fighter aircraft to enter operational service.
Using the latest technology it is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons. Gripen is designed to meet the demands of existing and future threats, while simultaneously meeting strict requirements for flight safety, reliability, training efficiency and low operating costs.
It is considered to be the world’s most agile fighter for close combat. A combination of advanced aerodynamic layout utilizing a combined close-coupled canard – delta configuration and a triplex, digital Fly-By-Wire Flight Control System (FCS) leads to a winning Dog-Fight capability.
The Gripen is built to be adaptable to changing threats and operational requirements faced by a modern air force. Gripen has significant growth available and many features are implemented in software. This means that modifications are much easier to design and implement. In most cases costly hardware changes can be avoided.
We are very happy to have received positive feedback from the Royal Thai Air Force, which operates the Gripen fighters at Surat Thani Air Force Base.
Will Saab be investing in the civil sector as well?
Besides the defence or related industry our investment can also be in the civil sector. Saab has world class composite technology as we are involved in civil aircraft programmes such as the Boeing Dreamliner and Airbus 380. Saab has recently acquired several companies, including one involved in air traffic management and also airport and harbor security. We are prepared to transfer our know-how and technology in all these sectors.