How is the Gripen performing in the international market?
Saab has had a terrific year. The Swedish Parliament voted overwhelmingly for the next generation of Gripen, following on the heels of the agreement with the Swiss Government. The Swedish Government have now announced that Sweden will buy 60 Gripen E fighter jets from Saab and given the approval to Swedish Armed Forces to place a contract with Saab, and we are expecting it early this year.
Among other milestones from 2012, the extended Gripen lease from Hungary and the delivery of the final aircraft of the South African order are key.
As we see the various opportunities around the world, Saab’s goal is to export at least 300 Gripens within the next ten years. When this objective is achieved, Saab will have 10 percent of the available market.
There is a real potential to sell 300 Gripen aircraft. It's not unrealistic. Since our new version is more fuel efficient and can carry more cargo than our twin-engine competitors, it has opened up new markets for us. Gripen's low operating cost is a key advantage.
We see an immense interest for Gripen more than ever before from countries around the world due to its unrivalled price/performance capability. At the same time defence budgets are ever more squeezed due to the current economic climate. Its our turn now, really.
How do you see the Thai market? Is there a potential for more Gripens in the existing framework?
Yes, we believe there is an opportunity for more Gripens to Thailand in the future since the Royal Thai Air Force is operating a number of ageing aircraft. Meanwhile, we will continue to support RTAF and Thailand in their effort to become one of the best airforces in the ASEAN region.
How has the Gripen performed for the Royal Thai Air Force?
I must say I am impressed by the way the Toyal Thai Air Force during a very short time has adopted to a modern fighter system like Gripen. The aircraft is already fully operational at Surat Thani airforce base and we have only received positive feedback from pilots, technicians and the management.
What are your ambitions for Thailand?
Our ambitions have always remained the same: We want to enable Thailand in its aerospace ambitions and we believe that the Gripen technologies should be a part of that equation.
Sweden does not attach strings to its high technology. Saab is committed to Thailand and will deliver the best industrial co-operation and technology transfer over the life of the program – providing what Thailand’s Air Force and industry wants and needs.