Saab to perform major update to Swedish Air Force Gripen C/D aircraft

It was thought that the Swedish air force would eventually have only sixty Gripen E/F fighter planes [ou NG], whose development was launched by Saab at the end of the 2000s… And that it would withdraw its Gripen C/D from service. Although they share the same name, these two devices are different, the first in front having a more powerful motorization and singularly increased capacities compared to the second.

Only, the evolution of the international context led Stockholm to modify its plans. Thus, in December 2020, Peter Hultqvist, then Swedish Minister of Defence, announced the maintenance of part of the JAS-39 C/D Gripen, in order to allow the Flygvapnet to maintain at least six fighter squadrons.

And, on the sidelines of the Royal International Air Tattoo [RIAT] 2022, in the UK, the Swedish Air Force Chief of Staff, General Carl-Johan Edström, clarified that the objective was to obtain a “balanced” mix of 120 combat aircraft, with Gripen E/F and Gripen C/D, by 2030.

Hence the announcement made recently by Saab. Thus, the industrialist said to have obtained a contract of 3.5 billion Swedish crowns [320 millions d’euros] to upgrade part of the Gripen C/D from the Flygvapnet. It is thus a question of making improvements in terms of their motorization, modernizing their PS-05 Mk4 radar [à antenne mécanique] and integrating a new electronic warfare suite into them.

This “contract represents a major step forward in terms of radar performance and functionality, both hardware and software, and will future-proof the operational capability of the Gripen C/D”, commented Jonas Hjelm, Division Manager “Aeronautics” from Saab.

No other details were given, except that the device will have the capacity to carry new ammunition… And that this upgrade will strengthen interoperability with the Gripen E/F, in particular at the level of the links of data.

Anyway, for General Edström, it is the Gripen E/F that will “change the game” because “although it looks like the C/D, it has a new airframe, a new engine, a capacity increased payload, a new radar [à antenne active, ndlr] and a new electronic warfare system. So, it is in fact a new plane”, he had underlined during the RIAT 22.

The Flygvapnet does not rely on stealth… and prefers to rely on a “very advanced” electronic warfare system that can be regularly upgraded in order to be able to operate in contested environments. Additionally, the Gripen was designed to be as easy to maintain as possible, requiring only six technicians to perform basic refueling and maintenance at small airbases or on highways.

It should also be noted that, during a ceremony organized on December 19 at the Anápolis air base, the Brazilian air force [FAB] officially admitted to active service its first Gripen E/F, 40 of which had been ordered by Brasilia.

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