Bydén on lease of fighter jets

Pending the delivery of Gripen NG fighter jets, Brazil may well be the last export customer to lease Gripen C/D jets from the Swedish operational fleet, reports Dagens Industri.

Just days after Saab’s export deal with Brazil, incoming Supreme Commander Micael Bydén has said that the Swedish Air Force has “limited opportunity” to lend Gripen C/D fighter jets to other countries, and that a new leasing agreement of the kind reached with Switzerland last year would be imprudent. Developments in Russia and last year’s annexation of Crimea have led Swedish politicians to call for a strong defence force that can scramble fighter jets in no time.

Sweden currently has an operational fleet of around 90 Gripen C/D fighter aircraft. Brazil wants to lease some 10 aircraft by 2016, and Slovakia six. Malaysia has also expressed interest in leasing Gripen fighter jets, and Thailand wishes to procure another six planes. Saab is also in talks with Indonesia and India.

“Basically, this is positive for Sweden, for industry and for the development of the Gripen system, and for the economy. But one has to understand that resources are limited …,” says Bydén.

His words are likely to cause Saab problems. However, one possible solution would be to upgrade Gripen A fighters to the Gripen C model. Saab could also build new Gripen C/D fighters if needed.