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Saab CEO ‘frustrated' at slow pace of Gripen sales

Seen in Finland where it lost out to the F-35, the Gripen has been effectively frozen out of the international export market since signing Brazil up to the Gripen E/F programme in 2014. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Saab's president and CEO, Micael Johansson, has told reporters of his ‘extreme frustration' at the lack of recent sales of the company's Gripen combat aircraft.

Speaking to Janes and other defence media at the company's Stockholm headquarters on 26 August, Johansson conceded that the single-engined ‘Euro-canard' had struggled to meet the export expectations that his predecessors had laid out for the multirole fighter, saying that this was not a reflection on the quality of the aircraft, but was down to politics.

“It is extremely frustrating to say the least, and I can say that it is not about the [Gripen] product that we have developed and manufactured. If it had been a completely level playing field in terms of not talking about security, politics, and other areas, then I think we would have been much better off [in terms of securing sales],” Johansson said, adding, “In many countries, the leverage of the US is tremendous. They are not so easy to work against [in the market], and it is politics.”

Johansson's comments came on the back of a fallow few years in terms of securing additional sales for either its earlier Gripen C/D or its latest Gripen E/F range, with international sales campaigns having scored no successes since Brazil joined the Gripen E/F programme in 2014.

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