UK And Sweden Agree To Cooperate On Gripen E International Sales

Saab JAS 39 Gripen E
Credit: Saab

LONDON—The British and Swedish governments are to cooperate on promoting international sales of Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen E combat aircraft as part of a new relationship between the two countries.

Buried in the text of the new Strategic Partnership between the UK and Sweden, signed by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and his UK counterpart, Rishi Sunak, in Visby, Sweden, on Oct. 13, is a call for closer cooperation on joint export opportunities including “working together to promote international sales of Gripen E and the associated weapons package,” the document states. 

The agreement harks back to the late 1990s, when BAE Systems and Saab formed Gripen International in a bid to market C/D model aircraft to several countries. At the time, the C/D had around 30% UK content.

“We will work with our industries to identify, plan and deliver third-country export opportunities for UK and Swedish businesses and seek further bilateral opportunities for reciprocal foreign direct investment,” the agreement says.

The arrangement appears to highlight the significant UK content in the fighter including the Raven ES-05 active electronically scanned array radar, which was developed by Leonardo UK, and its Martin-Baker-developed ejection seat. 

The Gripen E also makes extensive use of UK-developed weapons from MBDA including the Meteor beyond-visual range air-to-air missile and will include the Spear 3 and electronic-warfare functions.

The Gripen International joint venture ended in the early 2000s when BAE Systems sold its stake in Saab.

More recently, Sweden had been a member of the-then UK-led Future Combat Air System program to develop a sixth-generation fighter, but took a step back so it could look at its own combat aircraft needs post-Gripen C/D/E. 

That initiative, now named the Global Combat Air Program is proceeding with the support of Italy and Japan.

However, success in the international fighter market has been a struggle for the Gripen E after sales to Brazil. The market is dominated by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.