The Gripen programmes and campaigns were at the centrestage of the discussions with media at the Aerospace Forum seminars and programmes held at the Malmen Air Base near Linkoping Sweden between May 30 and June 3. Of special interest to the visiting global journalists was the schedule for the Gripen E/F to fly its first prototype as well as the market prospects for the Gripen. Apart from the current campaigns in Brazil and Switzerland, the company is also looking at prospects in other parts of the world, including the Latin Americas, Central Europe and South East Asia.
While the Gripen campaign in Brazil believes that a decision is around the corner, a win here, feels the Gripen team, would bolster prospects in other South American countries, reports Robert Wall of Aviation Week from the Aerospace Forum in Sweden. The Gripen market in South America is likely to open up in the event of a Brazilian win, says Frederik Gustafson, regional director for Gripen exports in the Americas, as a number of countries in the South America would be looking at strengthening their air forces over the next half a decade, reports Wall.
But that is not the only region where Gripen is looking at to attain its goal of selling 300 aircraft. As per the report, de la Motte identified South East Asia as a potential market following the success in Thailand. The company hopes for additional deals in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and, “in a couple of years,” Vietnam. In addition, Gripen is looking to provide solutions for air force needs in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Slovakia.
Based on the development programme agreed on by the Swiss and Swedish governments, the first Gripen E/F prototype is expected to fly by the end of 2013. As per the report, once the contract is awarded, the first Gripen E/F could be delivered four years thence.The Swedish Government has offered to speed up its purchase of the Gripen NG if another country wants it earlier, the report quotes de La Motte saying.
In another report in the Aviation Week from the Aerospace Forum, Bill Sweetman says the E/F airframe will be largely new, although it should be possible to use some major components from existing C/D airframes, including the wings. Mid and aft fuselage sections will be new, to accommodate the General Electric F414 engine (and its larger airflow) and the new landing gear. The blended wing-body sections will be larger, placing the wing attachment points an estimated 30 in. farther apart. The goal is to maintain the same wing loading for the E/F's 2.5-ton increase in gross weight. The body will be slightly longer, maintaining or improving fineness ratio. Sources suggest the design will incorporate F-35-style diverterless supersonic inlets.The E/F is expected to supercruise with weapons carried. Still under discussion is whether to use the Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE) version of the F414, which could be configured to deliver more thrust, better fuel efficiency or a combination of the two.
Sweetman also reports that if the Sweden and Switzerland plans are in synergy, the JAS 39E/F, the product of the GripenNG Demo programs will be delivered to customers in 2018. Interestingly, after the delivery of the last Gripen C/D, Saab had returned an unspecified sum of money to the Swedish government because costs were lower than predicted.