The SAAB Gripen and the Marketing Over Philippine MRF Program

The Philippines with its Air Force is recently having its squadron of FA-50PH LIFT jets procured. And it is a well-taken note that the Second Horizon which is next year is eyeing for Multirole fighters that among the possible jets procured, the JAS-39 Gripen is being talked among the defense community as the best possible MRF that may take out in the deal given the attributes which explain its idealistic preference seen as a multirole fighter that the organization seeks.

Pitz Defense Analysis Note: The Philippine Air Force and the Defense Department may change the outputs of the Multirole fighter jet program or may have a different set of results on the set that at present, this project is still on the "drawing board" stage with request still needs approval as per posting. Hence, this article reflects the defense community's viewpoints that give relevance which gives the SAAB Gripen being the best possible contender in the deal. This, in any connection, was not sponsored for and by the said Swedish Company.

JAS-39 Gripen Philippines, SAAB JAS-39 Block C/D, Philippine Air Force
Gripen E's First Flight. From SAAB website
Just recently, the Swedish weapons and arms company SAAB has its latest version of fighter jet which is the JAS-39 Gripen E tested on its first flight. This comes to the hopes that such a fighter jet as being marketed by SAAB shall be the affordable and effective Multirole fighter jet in the military weapons market. And with that apparently, several articles have even compared this jet with its successive first flight to the Lockheed-Martin F-35 jet where the same article describes it as a troubled project.

As per the Philippine military procurements meanwhile, it is taken note that the AFP Modernization Program calls for 48 units of fighter jets for the whole Modernization Phase wherein it gives the vision of the armed forces to have an effective Philippine Air Defense System (PADS) as the main feature of the Philippine Air Force Flight Plan 2028 which eventually lowered down to a squadron due to problems regarding funding with an option to go for second-hand platforms. At present, the Multirole fighter jet project is in the planning phase where it is now on its way for materialization for Horizon 2 (2018-2022). All of these remain to be seen where the budget allocation shows an obstacle to the project itself. See more: Horizon 2 and the Budget Obstacle.

With these things being stated out, the JAS-39 Gripen was known across the defense community where several members envision an air force with such jets in the inventory or rather, having a nice viewpoint that in such a project (if proceeds smoothly), obtaining a multirole fighter jet will be the best thing the Philippine Air Force will have in the future. In this topic, the discussion will be aiming at the statistics, technicalities, and specifications that have led to the making of this discussion which is lovelily discussed among those who love military and defense issues.

Given the chart at face value, it gives the idea that the cost
gets minimized starting from the first Gripen Edition.
The JAS-39 Gripen is regarded as a cost-effective fighter jet, with SAAB marketing it as such. It is ideal for countries with a sufficient but not excessive defense budget, such as the Philippines.

Moreover, SAAB is being aggressive in its marketing efforts that will push its product among the nations and their governments which include the Philippines. This, just like any other company, goes with the hopes that they will gain several respective markets which in turn correlates to more sales for the units and gain more for after-sales and upgrades to the discretion of the end-user. 

At present, JAS-39 Gripen is operated by several nations which include Sweden, South Africa, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom (through Empire Test Pilot's School), Thailand, and soon, Brazil which ordered a number of the latest Gripen E version which won their assessment with plans of local production together with Embraer S.A, which is the one who will supplement A-29 Super Tucanos to the Philippine Air Force. 

As specified in this article from a certain Brazilian Press, it was reported that their Government prefers this jet considering that it was the cheapest on the deal alongside the offers of the United States' Boeing F/A 18 and France's Dassault Rafale F3. Aside from that, the design phase of the New Generation (NG, or later classified as E/F version) and only having a single engine also influence the decision of the Brazilian decision-makers. The said deal with the Brazilians will be financially covered through a loan in which both sides agreed on a 25-year payment term for the said fighter jets.

The deal is enticing which the same thing may happen across the board as SAAB markets these jets across the nations which have the potential to procure fighter jets for its defense postures like in the case of the Philippines where the company opened its office in the country which signifies its push for their products to penetrate the market like the Philippine Air Force where its respective personnel or even the local aviators with flying experience sees it as a practical choice for the air force to have where it becomes a topic across local military and defense community. 

Nevertheless, it is still up with the main decision-makers whether these jets be purchased upon assessing it up to the standards which it holds such potential therein.

With the Philippines embarking on a project that will further improve its capabilities and SAAB's marketing of its product, it is nice to understand deeper with regards to the company and its product like the JAS-39 Gripen which pertains to its development and the rationale behind the success of the company and the fighter jet that it markets which just other aerospace companies, provides the capability a nation needs to defend its sovereignty against various threats, both internal and external.

SAAB, JAS-39 Gripen, Gripen Philippine Air Force
SAAB is hoping to have a firm market in the Philippines
which may take place should the JAS-39 Gripen be chosen.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The success of the company and its product points from the developments of the past. SAAB Group, first known as Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolag (Swedish Aeroplane Company, Ltd) was founded in 1937 in Sweden in the city of Trollhättan. In 1950, the company became what is SAAB is today through the merger of two aerospace companies in Sweden.

Being a defense-related industry, SAAB produces a lot of products from the span of its existence from half almost a century in which its products include sensors like the Sea Giraffe and Erieye radar systems, Naval Vessels through SAAB Kockums like the Visby-class Corvettes and A-26 submarines as well as military aircraft like the SAAB 340, Saab 35 Drakken, SAAB 37 Viggen, and the recently-produced JAS-39 Gripen.

Aircraft manufacturing began in the 1940s, during the Second World War. Sweden was neutral at the time, which explains why the planes SAAB developed at the time, such as the SAAB 17 and 18, although designed as war machines, didn't saw action. Nevertheless, in the span of the history of the company's existence, their know-how on military equipment increases as well as their reputation in which some projects and development on their products as well as their marketing put this Swedish defense-industrial complex on the map where several nations purchased several military weaponry from SAAB. 

SAAB's products form the portion of the military equipment of the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) which are active in service as well as serving its role to defend this Scandinavian Nation from various threats that may come into its territory. That gives the firm stance that this nation uses its indigenous or locally-produced and enhanced military weaponry wherein it comes with conformity about the products being in-service in a host country as well as on several nations that were sold, like in the case of the JAS-39 Gripen having operated by around six to seven nations.

Being successful in leasing or procuring in those nations aforementioned, SAAB is aggressively pursuing to have more nations with respective fighter procurement programs chose their JAS-39 Gripen in the sense that, just like any other business, aims to have additional sales on their portfolio in terms of units sold as well as on the spares and after-support programs in which both of these things bring profit to the company. Add to that, having more units in the market means more sources for spare parts which are essential for every operator to have in terms of maintaining the planes or rather, keeping them operational. 

See more: SAAB Advertorial - Gripen for the Philippines
JAS-39 Gripen Sunrise, Philippine Air Force, Multirole Fighter Jet
A JAS-39 Gripen Fighter jet flying at sunrise.
The Philippines in the Second Horizon first wanted to pursue two squadrons of Multirole Fighters for its Air Force. With a restrained budget in its helm with the insufficient 150 billion peso allocation in place, it lowers the number of units planned for the Multirole fighter program from two squadrons or 24 units down to a squadron or 12 units. These pertain statistically for the option of purchasing brand new, with another option opting for second-hand ones, most probably outsourced from countries like the United States.

Even with the restrained budget, it still does not stop the Philippine Air Force in pursuing its aim to procure multirole fighter jets in which will drastically enhance the capabilities of the organization further as well as this will define the organization and its mandate of providing close air support for the ground troops, giving immediate transport in the air for deploying troops and goods especially in times of disaster and distress and most of all, defending the Philippine Airspace against various threats that pose danger to the citizens of the republic, especially if such threats come from the sky.

The determination is given by the air force still gives suppliers like SAAB a window to enhance the capabilities the Philippine Air Force needs wherein it needs to compete with the United States through General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter jet platforms. These platforms though are tough to consider considering that the F-16 has more users than JAS-39 Gripen presently have where the former obtains a lot of sources for spare parts which is a good necessity for the units to keep operating. Nevertheless, the latter still have a chance where some other nation may opt to buy these jets which increases the spare parts pool in the same way as the T/TA/FA-50s being marketed to other nations which in turn will indirectly benefit the Philippines in terms of after-support/maintenance of the jets to keep it operational. 

Aside from the Philippines, there are other potential buyers or say, another set of nations that may end up obtaining JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from SAAB as they market their fighter jet product to these countries. According to SAAB in its Annual Gripen Seminar 2017, as reported by Mönch Publishing Group, they market these nations which include Botswana, Croatia, Malaysia, Slovakia, and the Philippines for the C/D variant while  Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Finland, and Switzerland for the E version.

Despite SAAB's marketing efforts, the decision will ultimately be made by the Defense Department, particularly in the case of the Philippine Air Force, which has expressed a strong desire for multi-role fighter jets, even if only a single squadron for Horizon 2. Nevertheless, all hopes and dreams for the air force are there where multirole fighter jets will finally make the organization much more capable where they can effectively conduct their mandate which is to protect the skies like the Navy and Coast Guard protecting the coastline, the Army protecting the land and the Police protecting the welfare of the people.

The Philippine Air Force's desire for MRF is split between
Lockheed Martin F-16 and JAS-39 Gripen.
SAAB is attempting to increase sales of their JAS-39 Gripen multirole fighter jets, which will assist a specific country's air force in improving its capabilities to protect its airspace and territory from various threats that may jeopardize the peaceful lives of its citizens.

With Multirole fighter jets being one of the priorities set by the Philippine Air Force, suppliers like SAAB and its American counterparts are willing to sell their wares wherein in both ways, will definitely enhance the capabilities needed by the Air Force as well as the aspirations of obtaining this weaponry to become true. This desirable outcome for SAAB may still depend on what the planners have to say where at present, the project still needs approval with regards to their request. Hence, the hopes and dreams about the project are still here where the Philippine Air Force is adamant to have this project despite the small project in a manner that several projects needed to cut or postpone to the Next Horizon. Just to take note, this will be the most ambitious project in the organization and by that manner, SAAB JAS-39 Gripen is apparently the favorite jet for PAF to have, although competition is still in place.

Once these items are in place, the FA-50PH Lead-in Fighter Trainer will complement a squadron which is also considered to be a light-fighter aircraft by some. Should this ambitious project push through, the time will finally come that the Philippine Air Force will obtain dedicated Multirole fighter jets designed to do its job of enhancing the mandate of PAF which is to protect the skies as well as to eliminate targets through precision bombing. With SAAB pushing doing the marketing, it may be their chance that they may be the ones who will supplant the project, should things be going in their favor.


Unknown said...

I still prepared and we go for F-16V Block 70/72 best suited for MRF requirement of PAF.

Unknown said...

The US is no longer using the F-16s they retiref their F-16 fleet in early 2000, and they are no longer building them either, what they offered to us are the ones coming from the boneyard where their retired planes are mothballed and preseeved for future sales or used. So its not a brand new unit and outdated unit.
The grippen is a Swedish counterpart to American F-16 and they offered a brand new units foefthe PAF. Grippens have low maintenance cost over the falcons high cost due to its age, and grippens are more efficient than again the falcons.

Jboy said...

F-16 are old models and expensive to maintain.PAF should go for the Gripen, possibly the newest version will do nicely and for the future will use longer.

Unknown said...

They were offering the newest and latest block 72, F16 Viper for export customers. Performance, agility and combat experience were unmatched to it counterpart Gripen C. Saab should offer their latest NG version E model to match the Lockheed Martin offering to PAF.

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