According to Chris Thatcher of the Skies magazine, Saab's Gripen E is a dark horse in the Canadian fighter competition. In a project that will be evaluated on capability, cost and economic return to Canada, Saab firmly believes it has a compelling offer to make, he says. Here are a few reasons why Gripen is the right fighter for Canada.
Gripen had been designed and built around the idea of achieving tactical superiority and has always relied on electronic warfare systems. “It is not something you can start to think of once you have designed your fighter. It needs to be part of the design criteria from the beginning,” said Jerker Ahlqvist, Vice President Head of Strategy, Marketing and Product Management, Saab.
With all the sensors on board, like the AESA radar system, IRST sensor, advanced data communications and dual data links, and its superior Electronic Warfare system, Gripen is quick to see, understand, decide, and act.
Other than the in-flight capabilities, Gripen has been developed for the battlefield of tomorrow. Its open-architecture design allows quick new software and hardware upgrades giving the fighter an edge in terms of its longevity.
Following the Gripen offer made by Saab to Canada last year, Patrick Palmer, Senior Vice-President, Saab Canada, said “We think our offer makes sense for Canada. Certainly if technology transfer is what the customer values for Canada, then it is something that we can easily do.”
The Canadian government requires that the new fighter should eventually be built on a domestic production line and contribute to economic growth and jobs. According to Tatcher, Brazil provides an interesting case study on how that technology and knowledge transfer could work with Gripen. Over 190 Brazilian professionals have already completed their technology transfer program and are now working at the Gripen Design and Development Network.
The ability to operate in Arctic conditions
“If there is a feature Saab hopes might intrigue Canadians, it’s the Gripen’s ability to operate in Arctic conditions,” Thatcher says. Right from day one, the fighter was designed to function amidst Arctic Circle cold conditions. With its Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capability, Gripen can be operated from dispersed airbases even during the harshest of winters.
Saab is currently in the fray for a contract to supply 88 Gripens to Canada under its Future Fighter Capability Project. The first aircraft is anticipated in 2025 with the fleet continuing in service beyond 2060.
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