How important is the Thai defence market to Saab? The Thai Defence market has been a top 10 market for Saab for a considerable period of time. We have committed ourselves to the market through a strategic partnership with Avia Satcom in order to partner a new generation of defence industry in the country. We plan to build on the success of the fighter aircraft, airborne surveillance, military aerospace combat and control systems and naval programs. Today, all the Business Areas of Saab are active in Thailand, including Aeronautics, Dynamics, Security & Defence Systems, Electronic Defense Systems and Support & Services. Our partnership with the Royal Thai Armed Forces encompasses the Gripen Air Defence Package, Air Command & Control System, Radar Systems and RBS 70 for the Air Force; Carl-Gustaf and BT simulators for the Army and the Combat Management System (9LV), Weapon Locating Radar Arthur and Sea Giraffe AMB for the Navy.
What is the status of the Gripen program and other systems to the Thai Armed Forces? All 12 Gripen C/D aircraft ordered by Thailand are now operating out of their home base Wing 7 in Surat Thani. These were purchased in a G2G integrated air defense agreement with Sweden signed early 2008. Recently, a great milestone was reached when the 12 aircraft completed 5000 flight hours. Recently, the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy have successfully linked data systems between a surveillance-early warning aircraft equipped with Erieye radar system and Gripen fighter and HMS Naresuan, reports ASTV Manager Online. This is the first time that the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy have worked with integrated radar signals using technology from Saab. The linked data systems will integrate usage of modern equipment, which will help increase the tactical capacity of both military forces to coordinate operations with improved efficiency. Once the implementation is done, there will be an integration of radar signals from both types of radar from both military forces. This will improve target detection, information sharing and joint attacks. The “Data link” system between surveillance and early warning aircraft Saab 340 AEW&C and Gripen and frigate HMS Naresuan will let airborne fighting units and sea fighting units share tactical information with each other. They will now “see each other” and “see the target together” which is very useful for a successful mission, the report concludes.
What has been the progress on naval programs with the Royal Thai Navy? Saab has upgraded the combat management and fire control systems on two frigates of the Naresuan class of the Royal Thai Navy. The frigates H.T.M.S. Naresuan and H.T.M.S Taksin were equipped with the latest generation of combat management and fire control systems, 9LV Mk4 and CEROS 200 and there was a subsequent order for additional sights and communications equipment to complete the combat suite on the two frigates. Saab also supplied data-link equipment to the ships, which allows communication between frigates and Thailand’s existing Gripen aircraft and Saab 340s, the latter fitted with the ERIEYE airborne radar system. Saab has also upgraded the command and control system on the aircraft carrier H.T.M.S. Chakri Narubet. The aircraft carrier was fitted with the latest generation of command and control system, 9LV Mk4. Saab also supplied data-link equipment to the ship, which allows communication between the ship and the Royal Thai Air Force’s Gripen fighter aircraft and the airborne radar system Erieye, carried by the Saab 340 AEW.
What further opportunities is the company pursuing in Thailand? We are pursuing opportunities across all domains and all of Saab’s Business Areas are active offering high-tech solutions and products including EW (Self Protection Systems), Training & Simulation Signature Management, Aeronautical Platforms, Communication Systems, Surveillance Systems, Fire Control and Radar Systems, Ground Combat Systems and Naval Systems. Saab’s product portfolio on offer in Thailand is comprehensive. It ranges from the Carl-Gustaf - Multi-purpose Weapon System, GIRAFFE AMB, NLAW – Next-Generation Light ATW, AT4 CS – Light anti-armour weapon, RBS 70 NG - VSHORAD System, to ARTHUR Tactical Combat Simulation Centre, 9LV CMS, Sea Giraffe AMB Ceros 200, 9Air Compact C2 & TactiCall ICS.
Can you throw light on your partnership with AVIA Satcom? Saab’s partnership with AVIA Satcom is a key to increased engagement in Thailand. Saab, through AVIA Satcom, is able to offer products and services by a local company, with locally developed technology and by local resources. Saab is transferring technology and know-how to AVIA Satcom in areas of mutual interest like Tactical Data Link, Command & Control, establishment of a local support and logistic organization for Saab products in Thailand.
The Naval contracts for retrofit of the H.T.M.S. Naresuan class frigates and H.T.M.S. Chakri Narubet boosted the partnership significantly. These programmes included significant local content including software development, system integration, verification and test installation and setting to work.