SHAH ALAM: SWEDISH defence company, Saab unveiled the latest version of its Gripen fighter jet – the E – at a ceremony in Linkoping, Sweden, yesterday. The revamped Gripen E – dubbed the Gripen NG previously – was unveiled at the its fighter plant to an audience of several hundred suppliers, media and customers.
It is yet unclear whether Malaysians were at the unveiling ceremony though its likely that Deftech officials – Saab industrial partner for the AEW/MRCA programme – were present.
RMAF had stated previously the Gripen NG was among the four aircraft shortlisted for the MRCA programme though recent developments had indicated that it had been eliminated.
At DSA 2016, it was reported that Saab was promoting the GlobalEye AEW together with the Gripen C/D model for the RMAF. It is likely that they had chosen the C/D model to compensate for the higher cost of the new GlobalEye AEW. Previously the NG was offered with the Saab 2000/340 AEW aircraft.
The company had also offered a couple of Saab MSA for free if Malaysia choose the Gripen/AEW combo.
So whats so special about the Echo model compared to the older Gripens? According to Reuters, the latest Gripen is designed to carry more weapons further, and to track multiple threats using the latest type of radar.
As for Saab: “Over previous versions of the Gripen, Gripen E has a significantly improved avionics system. The capability to carry more weapons and the improved range performance, is possible by a more powerful engine and the ability to carry more fuel.
Gripen E is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.
The Gripen E have been ordered by Sweden and Brazil. Switzerland had selected the aircraft to replace its F-5 fighters but it was turned down by voters in a referendum. Saab is looking for opportunity to export the E globally with Asia Pacific as its main target.
Reuters quoted Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis as saying that the “The Gripen E ensures that Gripen as a brand keeps going against the Rafale, Typhoon and F-35
Selling for about $85 million excluding arms, the Gripen E is slightly cheaper than Rafale or Typhoon and significantly cheaper than the single-engined F-35, which is marketed for stealth, he added”.
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