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Saab offers Gripens to Colombia to replace Kfirs

Saab AB is offering its single-seat and dual-seat Gripen fighters to the Colombia Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana: FAC) to replace its Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir combat aircraft fleet.

Jonas Hjelm, Saab’s head of business area aeronautics, told Jane’s on 10 July from the Feria Aeronáutica Internacional (F-AIR) show in Colombia that the company offered 12 single-seat Gripen Es and 3 dual-seat Gripen Fs. He said that Colombia is looking for multirole air superiority fighters and that Saab believes the Gripens perfectly fit these requirements.

A Brazilian Gripen E in final assembly. (Saab)

A Brazilian Gripen E in final assembly. (Saab)

Hjelm said it was too early to say where Saab would build its Colombian Gripens if the company was selected to provide the aircraft, but added that Saab would use existing facilities in Brazil and Sweden if chosen to provide Gripens to Colombia. The company, he said, is offering a very comprehensive technology transfer package as Saab knows Colombia wants its aeronautical industry to take a step forward in maturity.

Saab expects competition from Lockheed Martin and its F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon and Eurofighter Typhoon, while IAI is offering the upgraded Kfir Next-Generation (NG). Colombia currently operates Kfir Block 60s.

Hjelm said Colombia needs to replace its Kfirs by the early 2020s. Saab is developing its first Gripen Es for Brazil in Sweden and will eventually move production of these aircraft to Brazil. The Gripen F, being developed by Saab and Embraer, will start production in 2020.

The FAC has 19 Kfir C10s and 3 Kfir TC12s, according to Jane’s World Air Forces.

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