Sweden’s Saab has announced that the participation of its Gripen E aircraft in the upcoming flight tests in Switzerland has not been allowed by Armasuisse, the Swiss defence procurement agency.
Switzerland has budgeted CHF 6 billion towards the procurement of the new combat aircraft, which will replace its F/A-18 Hornet and F-5 E/F Tiger fighter jets.
Armasuisse has said that the Gripen E cannot take part in the fighter competition as the planned flight tests have been designed to only evaluate aircraft that are operationally ready in 2019. The Swiss expect to complete the fighter evaluation process and take delivery of the selected aircraft starting from 2025.
The flight and ground trials between the four remaining candidates (Eurofighter, F / A-18 Super Hornet, Rafale and F-35A) are slated for completion in June. The four Lockheed Martin F-35As landed on 29 May 2019 in Payerne.
“As Gripen E is yet to become operational, Saab has presented solutions to perform the Swiss flight tests in 2019. An offer to complement the Gripen E test aircraft with an operational Gripen C aircraft for the flight tests in June 2019 has not been accepted by armasuisse. Competitors have showcased capabilities on existing platforms, which are different to the versions offered for delivery,” Saab has stated.
“The Gripen E will enter into operational service years before Switzerland has scheduled deliveries and will meet all its defined capabilities. However, the Gripen E development plan does not match the Swiss plan to perform flight tests with aircraft that are operationally ready in 2019. Therefore, Saab has decided not to attend the Swiss flight tests in Payerne 24-28 June,” the airframer says.
Gripen E is currently in developmental testing and has been ordered by Sweden and Brazil, with customer deliveries starting later this year.
Saab’s proposal made in January 2019, consists of options for 30, and 40, new build Gripen E fighter aircraft to Switzerland.