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Saab launches Gripen industrial team for Canada

Saab has formally announced the team that it hopes will secure Canada’s fighter replacement programme for its Gripen E combat aircraft.

Seen in Finland earlier in the year, the Gripen E is being offered to Canada. With both nations looking to replace ‘classic’ Hornet fighters in around the same timeframe, many of the operational and industrial benefits that Saab spelled out for Finland in January will apply to Canada also.

The Gripen for Canada Team announced on 2 March for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) is comprised of IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada, and GE Aviation.

As noted by the Swedish defence manufacturer, the Gripen E is being offered to Canada along with “high-quality industrial and technological benefits”, such as those also being offered to Finland and India. Saab has previously announced for these other countries the offer of in-country assembly of the aircraft and engine as part of a wider industrial offset package, and this offer is reflected in the breakdown of responsibilities for the Gripen for Canada Team.

With the support of the Swedish government, IMP Aerospace and Defence will contribute with in-country production and in-service support for the life of the Canadian Gripen fleet. CAE will provide training and mission systems solutions, while Peraton Canada will provide avionic and test equipment component maintenance, repair, and overhaul, and material management. GE Aviation will provide and sustain the fighter’s engines in Canada.

The RCAF is looking to buy 88 new aircraft to replace its current 78 Boeing F/A-18 (CF-18/CF-188 in national service) Hornets that have been in-service since 1982. Besides the Gripen E, the requirement is being contested by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (Airbus withdrew the Eurofighter in August 2019, citing incompatibility with the security and acceptability requirements the suppliers needed for compatibility with Canada-US and Five Eyes data).

A type selection is expected by early 2022, with the first replacement aircraft to be delivered by 2025.

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