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Saab’s Gripen E to Meet Future RTAF Needs

Our Bureau - : Nov 8, 2023 - : 10:42 pm

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is considering procurement of additional Saab Gripen fighter jets or F-16s to meet its requirements to induct a modern fighter type to replace some of its ageing F-16s. In an exclusive interview with Daily News prior to the start of Defence & Security, Air Chief Marshal Punpakdee Pattanakul, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force, had outlined his plans for the service, including procurement of new fighter jets. Pattanakul told Daily News, that the RTAF is looking to procure additional F-16s or Gripens, to replace F-16s operated by Wing 1. Speaking to Daily News onsite, Robert Bjorklund Gripen Sales Executive said the Swedish airframer would propose the Gripen E to meet any future RTAF requirement. The RTAF has also requested Saab to integrate MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), which Robert says Saan is ready to undertake. At present, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is the only operator of the Meteor in the region, with the BVRAAM fitted on its Rafale F3-Rs.

Commenting on the Gripen in RTAF service, Robert said the RTAF is experiencing high aircraft availability with the type regularly taking part in multi-national exercises. All aircraft were available for all missions during Pitch Black Exercises held in Australia, with 99 percent availability. The aircraft are also demonstrating low mean time between failure rate (MTBF) beating its competitors, Robert added. Saab concluded the upgrade of Thailand’s Gripen system to Materiel System 20 (MS20) in 2023 with the modifications involved replacing hardware and upgrading software in the aircraft, to increase their service life and tactical ability. Commenting on the MS-20 upgrade, Robert said customers could choose from a variety of capabilities and many have requested for integration of the ground collision avoidance system (GCAS). Thailand’s Gripen fighters and Erieye airborne surveillance systems are all connected through a secure high-speed datalink network that gives Thai command authorities full situational awareness across the entire country.

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