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UK throws weight behind Saab's Gripen bid to Thailand

Seen at its unveiling, the Gripen E is being offered to Thailand under a joint bid by the Swedish and UK governments. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The UK government is backing Saab's bid to sell the Gripen E to Thailand, the manufacturer disclosed on 20 March.

Responding to an image posted by UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron on the same day, showing him climbing into a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Gripen C during a trade visit, Saab said that Sweden and the UK would combine their efforts to sell the Gripen E to the Far Eastern country.

“Sweden and the UK stand side-by-side in offering the very best future fighter capability for the Royal Thai Air Force,” Saab said on its official X (formerly Twitter) account.

With eight single-seat Gripen C and four twin-seat Gripen D aircraft already in its inventory, the RTAF is now looking to acquire one additional squadron of at least 12 multirole aircraft from 2025 to 2034. The single-seat Gripen E (and potentially the twin-seat Gripen F) is a contender platform, with other aircraft types being considered also.

In terms of the UK backing Saab's bid, Cameron said, “Thailand is one of the biggest economies in Southeast Asia. [The UK's] trading relationship is worth around GBP6 billion [USD7.62 billion] a year. I want to build on that. Working together we can promote security in the region, and jobs and growth in the UK.”

While the Gripen is seen as being a Swedish aircraft, Saab has previously disclosed that 25% of every Gripen is made by UK companies. This includes the Martin-Baker ejection seat and the Leonardo UK active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

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