Saab has been awarded SEK224 million (USD26 million) to upgrade systems on the Swedish Air Force (SwAF’s) fleet of Gripen C/D combat aircraft.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) contract, announced by the company on 23 May, involves enhancements to the current MS20-configuration, which was rolled out in 2016.
Specifically, improvements will be made to the aircraft’s ‘central capabilities’, including the target acquisition, self-protection, communication, and human-machine interface systems, as well as a number of key support and training systems.
The work will be carried out at Saab’s facilities in Gothenburg, Järfälla, Linköping, and Arboga, with deliveries to take place between 2018 and 2020.
The SwAF fields 73 single-seat Gripen C and 24 twin-seat Gripen D aircraft that have all be upgraded to the MS20 standard (the final such block for the Gripen C/D). Essentially a software package, MS20 includes integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and BoeingGBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I; improved radar modes; a digital close-air support capability; increased Link 16 connectivity; civil navigation enhancements; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protection for the pilot; night-capable operations using the SPK 39 Modular Reconnaissance Pod II; and a ground collision avoidance system (GCAS).
With 60 of the latest Gripen E set to enter service between 2022 and 2026, the SwAF originally intended to retire its Gripen Cs (the Gripen Ds would be retained for pilot training) over the same period. However, in May 2017 the service disclosed to Jane’s and other defence media that it was looking at options for retaining a number of these older aircraft to make up an anticipated shortfall in Gripen E numbers.
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