Singapore Airshow 2018: Saab on track with regional Gripen campaigns

08 February 2018

A three-ship formation of Royal Thai Air Force Gripen aircraft. (SAAB)A three-ship formation of Royal Thai Air Force Gripen aircraft. (SAAB)Saab has positioned its Gripen fighter aircraft to respond to several programme opportunities across the Asia Pacific during the next few years, company officials said at the Singapore Airshow.

The largest potential customer is India, officials said, but other country targets in the region include Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

India has two requirements. Saab said it is waiting for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to issue a request for information (RFI) in support of its stated requirement to procure up to 150 single-engine fighter aircraft to replace its ageing Russian MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter platforms. Under the requirement, the selected aircraft would be built locally.

“In India we are waiting for the RFI to be issued,” said a Saab official. “There is intent and great ambition but there isn’t the process yet. So, when the RFI comes along then we can take this to the next step.”

Saab is competing against Lockheed Martin in the procurement programme, which is likely to reach a value of about USD12 billion.

The other Indian requirement is centred on the Indian Navy’s (IN's) procurement of an initial 57 fighters under its Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter (MRCBF) programme. Saab confirmed that it has responded to the IN’s RFI, which was issued in early 2017, with its Gripen M variant. This aircraft was previously named Sea Gripen.

Other contenders for the MRCBF programme, which is expected to go to request for proposal (RFP) stage in 2018, include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, and the MiG 29K.

Saab officials also confirmed that the company remained in contention to pursue major fighter aircraft contracts in Southeast Asia. However, programmes there are unlikely to progress to contract stage in the near future.

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