In the last four years, the Swedish, the Czech Republic, and the Hungarian Air Forces have successfully completed the MS20 upgrade to their Gripen fleet. And now, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is reportedly looking to upgrade its fleet of 11 Gripen C/Ds with the latest configuration. Their Gripens are currently configured to the MS19 version.
The MS20 upgrade involves both software and hardware upgrade which would enhance Gripen’s air-to-ground target engagement by integrating electro-optical pods that will allow the jets to drop laser-guided bombs.
Along with an enhancement of Gripen’s air-to-ground target engagement ability, the MS20 configuration will also introduce new radar modes that will improve the fighter’s air-to-air target engagement even more. The upgrade will also add Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb and MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range-air-to-air-missile (BVRAAM).
According to another news report in Defense News, RTAF however, would not need the integration of the NATO standard 16 datalink used by NATO and its partner nations. The RTAF’s Gripens will continue to run on Link T, which is the Thai military’s indigenous network.
"We are planning to upgrade the Gripens to the MS20 standard. We have seen the capabilities of the latest standard and it’s everything we need," says Group Captain Prachya Tippayarat, Deputy Commander of the RTAF's Wing 7 at Surat Thani Air Base. “However, no details on the timelines have been announced yet,” he adds.
It was in 2008 when an agreement was signed between FMV, Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration and the RTAF, for the delivery of six Gripen C/D fighters to Thailand. An additional batch of six Gripens was ordered in 2010.
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