“Interest in the Gripen is greater than ever. We have a handful of countries that are interested in the Gripen E and F (one-seat and two-seat versions). We are in a situation where we are the only ones in the Western world who are developing a new fighter aircraft,” said Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe when he presented the company’s Q4 report yesterday.
India is one of the countries to which Saab hopes to sell the Gripen, and the company has stressed that it is prepared to meet India’s demand that the aircraft be manufactured in the country. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (S) will visit India 13-14 February where he, along with Håkan Buskhe and a Swedish industry delegation, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Commenting the development of a new trainer aircraft in a bid to win a US Air Force contract, Mr Buskhe told investors. “Our cooperation with Boeing is going extremely well and we have a concept that we are convinced will change the ‘training world’. We are very sure that we will be able to win contracts”.
Saab posted a profit after depreciation of SKr 1.34 billion for the fourth quarter. Sales amounted to SKr 10 billion, an increase of 36% on the corresponding period in 2014.
Earlier this month Saab launched a campaign to sell the Gripen fighter jet to India. CEO Håkan Buskhe was in New Delhi, along with Ulf Nilsson, the head of Saab’s aeronautics division.
This is no small deal we are talking about, comments Svenska Dagbladet. While Sweden has ordered 60 new Gripen E fighters, Brazil 36 and the Czech Republic has just signed an agreement on an upgrade of its 14 fighters (ed), India is probably looking at buying 200. This would certainly boost Saab’s sales, but the company could also lose some control over the fighter jet’s future development to India, according to journalist Tomas Augustsson, who also points out that the process is likely to be long and complicated, and may come to nothing. “And until then, what happens in smaller, neighbouring countries, on their way to acquiring new fighter jets, is more important,” he writes.
Major General Kim Jäämeri, the Commander of the Finnish Air Force, has said that Finland may purchase Saab’s Gripen fighter jet, but such a decision will not be made before 2022.
Saab will face competition from America’s Lockheed and Boeing, France’s Dassault Aviation and EADS’ Eurofighter
Gunnar Wieslander, new chief executive of shipyard Kockums AB, tells DI the shipyard is about to launch the A26 submarine for export, and is aiming for contracts with the Netherlands, Norway and Poland. He is also convinced that there will be business opportunities with Australia.
Kockums’ boss also says he would like to strengthen ties with Japan’s shipbuilding industry, and is full of praise over ongoing cooperation with Kawasaki and JMU. He confirms that talks with the Japanese are ongoing, but falls short of commenting on whether Japan, which is offering its submarine technology Soryu to Australia, is willing to cooperate with Kockums.
Defence and security group Saab has signed a contract with the United Arab Emirates to deliver a new airborne swing role surveillance system (SRSS), which is capable of simultaneous detection and tracking of multiple targets in the air, on land and at sea. The order value is approximately USD 1.27 billion (SKr 11 billion).
The proposal to tighten legislation on Swedish exports of war materiel will impact negatively on Swedish exports, innovation, jobs and defence capability, warns the defence industry.
The value of Swedish exports would fall by SKr 40 billion by 2023, if Sweden adds a democracy criteria to current defence export legislation, says defence analyst company IHS Jane.
“Competitors would most likely use it as a reason to rid themselves of Swedish suppliers in the chain of supply,” predicts Robert Limmergård, diretor general of the Swedish security and defence industry association (SOFF).
Saab defence group may be forced to look over its future investments in Sweden, hints Håkan Buskhe, chief executive of Saab. The company employs 12,000 of its 15,000 staff in 50 localities around Sweden.
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.
Yesterday the Saab defence and security group announced that the contract signed with Brazil in October 2014 for the supply of 36 Gripen NG combat aircraft has come into effect. The conditions from Brazil associated with the financing of the deal have been fulfilled. Brazil will pay for the SKr 39.3 billion order with credit from the Swedish export credit corporation (SEK).
The aircraft will be built both in Sweden and Brazil and deliveries will run from 2019 to 2024.
Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab, said the deal would mean growing interest in Gripen and other Saab products. The defence group has Gripen deals in the pipeline with Belgium, Indonesia, India and Finland.
With tensions running high in the Baltic and Nordic regions, Sweden cannot transfer surplus defence equipment to other countries in the same way as it has done in the past, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has told business daily Dagens Industri (DI).
“I am not prepared to jeopardise Sweden’s needs or its defence capability in any way,” he said.
The minister, who was recently in India to discuss the country’s interest in the Gripen fighter jet, has also told the paper that the Swedish government is prepared to support Saab, and to reach government to government agreements with India.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist held talks with India’s Defence Minister and government representatives on Wednesday. Their meeting focused on extensive collaboration within the defence industry between the two countries, according to Reuters news agency, with reference to a billion dollar package.
An Indian defence ministry official told Reuters that the talks included military hardware, aircraft and shipyards in India where plans are being outlined for construction of next generation warships and submarines.
The talks also focused on Sweden helping to modernise India’s air force. Defence and security company Saab has offered to produce its single engine Gripen fighter in India, report international news agencies.