Jun 18, 2017 James Drew | ShowNews
Sweden’s jack-of-all-trades and master of many, Saab Group, arrives at the Paris Air Show with a lineup of new airborne weaponry, from fighter jets to trainers and early-warning and submarine-hunting aircraft. The company has even started work on a 21st-century version of the air-launched Robotsystem-15F (RBS15) anti-ship missile introduced in 1982.
Last May in Linkoping, the Scandinavian company rolled out the first of three test aircraft of the new Gripen E-series multirole fighter ordered by the Swedish and Brazilian air forces.
Then, in September, Boeing and Saab (Chalet 379) unveiled their clean-sheet offering for the U.S. Air Force’s $16 billion T-X trainer program, the “BTX.” The first two prototypes are now flying in St. Louis, Missouri.
Those touchstone products are complemented by the special-mission GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft, both based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet.
Already this year, the company has disclosed new GlobalEye customers and signed a deal with the Swedish defense materiel administration (FMV) for development of the next-generation version of the RBS15 to arm the Gripen E.
The company also appears to have Sweden’s backing for the T-X, with Swedish Air Force officials telling reporters on a Saab media tour in May that the Boeing/Saab offering is its first choice to replace the 1967-vintage Saab 105/SK 60 military trainer if selected by the U.S. Air Force.
From aircraft to submarines, Saab (Chalet 379) builds more than 600 pieces of military hardware across 250 different market offerings.
“We’ve consolidated the whole Swedish defense industry,” says Saab President and CEO Håkan Buskhe. “We’ve never had so many projects ongoing at the same time since the Cold War. We have a fishing rod strategy, with many fishing rods in many lakes.”
The Swedish government is Saab’s most important customer, but domestic military spending is not high enough to support all of Saab’s product lines. For that, the company looks abroad.
Saab is marketing its flagship fighter product, the Gripen, to Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Colombia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Slovakia and Switzerland. The aircraft is already operated by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand and UK Empire Test Pilot School.
Buskhe says Saab’s relationship with Bombardier on the GlobalEye and Swordfish programs, as well as its generous technology transfer offer, makes Canada “a very interesting possibility going forward.”
Buskhe believes that during the next couple of years, many of the company’s long-running sales campaigns will yield firm orders. The company, founded in 1937, is eager to prove it will be around for another 80 years.
Bulgarian PM: Whether it is right to purchase new aircraft right now or to look at needs of the Land Forces and Navy
Saab says rising tensions in Asia may turn the region into one of its fastest growing markets
Gripen C/D: Details
Saab Gripen E: Details