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IFC 2023: Sweden charts next-generation fighter development

A model of the Gripen E combat aircraft at Saab's headquarters in Stockholm. Sweden has embarked on a national study to determine and develop its successor. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Sweden is considering its future next-generation combat aircraft requirements, having now launched Phase 1 of a concept exploration phase of a national study.

Speaking at the IQPC International Fighter Conference (IFC) 2023 under the Chatham House Rule, an official said that the national work followed the official termination of the country's participation in the UK-led Future Combat Air System (FCAS) in 2022.

“We walked away from trilateral studies with [the] UK and Italy about a year ago, and launched a national study. I will not answer questions why it didn't work with the UK and FCAS,” the official said on 7 November at the event in Madrid, adding only that had Sweden known in July 2019 when it signed up to FCAS what it knows now about its requirements, it would not have joined.

With the concept exploration phase having just begun, the official noted that the next-generation fighter project is still very undefined, but that it would be built around a changed strategic concept for Sweden now that it is joining NATO. While previously Sweden had been focused wholly on homeland defence, it would now have to extend itself much further out into the Atlantic Ocean to protect maritime supply lines, at the same time as addressing anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) challenges and providing enhanced situational awareness and airborne early warning capabilities.

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