JAS 39 Gripen - International SalesExporting the Gripen has been paramount to the manufacturer SAAB, their part owner and partner British weapons manufacturer BAE Systems, and to the Swedish government for whom export means more partners in future development costs and a possibility to lease some of the surplus aircraft. Gripen is one of the main three multi-role fighters jet that have been marketed worldwide during the last decade. The American F-16, now superseded by the F-35 JSF, the Eurofighter and to some extent French Rafaele were the main competitors.
In 1995 Saab and British Aerospace (BAe) signed an agreement for the joint marketing of the Gripen. Hereby, Saab gained access to the global sales organization of British Aerospace, as well as to its governmental support in international marketing. British Aerospace will adapt the export version of the Gripen to NATO standards, and also produce certain subsystems for the aircraft. The agreement, which followed on more than a decade of cooperation between the two companies, became the basis for a consolidation between Saab and British Aerospace. It also paved the way for Saab's deepened integration with the European aerospace industry. Saab intended to be an active player along with British Aerospace, Aerospatiale (France), DASA (Germany) and CASA (Spain) in the creation of an integrated European defense and aerospace industry - Eurospace.
The Gripen was offered to Chile, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Brazil.
The Gripen has been sold successfully in the international defense market. During the coming 10-15 years, Saab hopes to export at least 400 aircraft, on a total market for fighter aircraft estimated at 2,000 aircraft.
In November 1998, South Africa announced that it will buy 28 Gripens. The value of the order is 12 billion SEK (1.5 billion USD) and the contract was expected to be signed in May or June of 1999. The South African Air Force purchased 28 Gripen fighters in 1999, and the Hungarian Air Force has also purchased 14 aircraft.
In August 2002 the Czech government announced that after paying bills to recover from the devastating summer floods, it would no longer be able to afford to buy 24 Jas-39 Gripen fighters from BAE Systems/Saab at a cost of about $2 billion. The Czech Republic's fleet of MiG-21s began to reach the end of its service lifespan in 2004. US officials offered used F-16s to the Czechs. The Czech Republic finally decided to lease 14 Gripens from Sweden. Another candidate, Poland, had previously announced that it chose the Boeing F-18 Hornet.
Under the umbrella of the European prosecuting authority Eurojust, prosecutors in five countries are currently cooperating in a far-reaching investigation into the Czech Gripen deal. Investigations concerning the suspected bribes are currently (January 2008) on-going in eight countries: Sweden, The Czech Republic, Britain, South Africa, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria and the US. Parliamentary commissions in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria have started investigations of the respective Gripen deals in their countries. There were suspicions of bribery in all of the successful Gripen export deals: South Africa, The Czech Republic and Hungary.
On Thursday 24 January 2008, the Government authorized the Defence Materiel Administration to enter into an agreement with the air force in Thailand on the transfer of an integrated air surveillance system comprising JAS 39 Gripen and the Erieye radar surveillance system. Thailand is to replace its present air surveillance system when parts of the country's current air fleet are phased out in 2011. The system's role will be to monitor Thailand´s airspace and conduct incident preparedness. The agreement covers six Gripen aircraft, the Erieye radar surveillance system and the accompanying data-link systems. The order amounts to some SEK 3.8 billion. Delivery is planned to take place in early 2011.
By July 2008 there were binding Gripen tenders for Denmark, Norway, India, Romania and Switzerland. In addition, Saab had responded to, or is working on responses to requests for information of differing degrees from Bulgaria, Croatia, Brazil and the Netherlands. Gripen had six customers at that time. In addition to Sweden, the NATO member countries of Hungary and the Czech Republic both operate the aircraft, and the UK ETPS (Empire Test Pilots' School) used Gripen as its training platform. In February, Thailand 2008 placed an order for Gripen and deliveries to South Africa had been underway since April 2008. Saab's business objective to sell at least 200 Gripen aircraft on the world market remains, Saab CEO Åke Svensson repeated in a press briefing earlier during the Farnborough week.
On 25 August 2008 Saab responded to the F-16 Replacement Questionnaire issued by the Dutch Ministry of Defence, offering 85 Gripen NG (Next Generation) aircraft to the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Saab response is an all inclusive package comprising 85 Gripen NG aircraft, training, spares, simulators and support at a price that fits well into the Dutch defense budget. The Norwegian prime minister's announcement on 20 November 2009 that Norway had chosen the American F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) came as a surprise to Saab. "The arguments put forward seemed to have very little, or no, establishment in the preceding procurement process. We did not recognize ourselves in the assessment of Gripen's operational capacity or the description of its costs. It sounded like the description of another aircraft. The claim that Gripen does not fulfil Norway's operational demands and that Gripen would prove essentially more expensive must, according to our view, rest on an incomplete, or even faulty, analysis. ... Saab's goal to sell 200 aircraft on the export market remains and today we are pursuing active marketing towards eight potential customer countries. "
On March 1, 2010 BAE Systems plc (BAES) pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), announced Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler. BAES was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to pay a $400 million criminal fine, one of the largest criminal fines in the history of DOJ's ongoing effort to combat overseas corruption in international business and enforce U.S. export control laws.
BAES admitted that, as part of the conspiracy, it knowingly and willfully failed to identify commissions paid to third parties for assistance in soliciting, promoting or otherwise securing sales of defense items in violation of the AECA and ITAR. BAES failed to identify the commission payments in order to keep the fact and scope of its external advisors from public scrutiny. In one specific instance, BAES caused the filing of false applications for export licenses for Gripen fighter jets to the Czech Republic and Hungary by failing to tell the export license applicant or the State Department of £19 million BAES paid to an intermediary with the high probability that it would be used to influence that tender process to favor BAES.
On 05 March 2010 British arms manufacturer BAE Systems gave up its part-ownership in Sweden's SAAB Defense Company. All SAAB stock held by BAE was bought by Swedish industrial holding company Investor. According to Investor the purchase price for the shares amounted to 150 million dollars. The Wallenberg-family controlled Swedish company then owned 31 percent of SAAB Defense Systems' capital. Analysts in Stockholm called the transaction 'a vitamine injection'. BAE Systems had earlier signaled that it had lost interest in marketing SAAB's Gripen fighter plane. BAE announced it will focus on the American-European Joint Strike Fighter Project instead.
On 30 November 2011 the Swiss government decided to select Gripen as its future multirole fighter aircraft for the Swiss Air Force. The Gripen program will create a long-term partnership between Switzerland and Sweden. Saab assures Switzerland a long-term strategic industrial co-operation aimed at creating sustainable high tech jobs, transferring technology and generating export business.
The JAS-39IN Gripen NG was one of the six contender in the $11 billion contest to sell India 126 Medium Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MMRCA). The Indian Air Force is seeking to buy 126 fighter aircraft, in a whopping $11 billion deal, considered the country's single largest ever. MiG-35s of Russia, F-16INs from Lockheed Martin and the F/A-18E/F of Boeing of the United States and JAS 39 Gripen from Saab of Sweden, among others, are vying for the deal.
Sweden's Gripen NG from Saab is competing for an estimated $4.4 billion order from Brazil along with the Rafale jet from France's Dassault and US-based Boeing Co.'s F-18 Super Hornet.
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