‘Gripen for Canada Team’ launched by Saab

Saab has announced that it has teamed up with leading Canadian aerospace companies to offer the Gripen E for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).

Dubbed the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’ – the Saab has teamed up with IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation. The team is bidding to fulfil the nation’s future fighter requirement for 88 new aircraft to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) ageing fleet of CF-188A/B fighters. The Swedish-based manufacturer announced the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’ on March 2.

In a press release, Saab said: “The Canadian Request for Proposal [RFP] requires companies to deliver high-quality industrial and technological benefits, such as Saab has demonstrated with Gripen for Brazil and is offering for Finland and India’s fighter requirements.”

Gripen E [Saab/Linus Svensson] #2
A pair of Saab Gripen E's in flight. Saab/Linus Svensson

The company adds that its Gripen E proposal will deliver not only high-quality jobs and technology but that it will also benefit Canadian industry by adding greater economic value and knowledge to the involved companies.

Jonas Hjelm, senior vice president and head of Business Area Aeronautics at Saab, said: “Over the past two years, Saab and the Swedish government have been encouraged by Canada’s open and transparent competition to replace its fighter fleet… We have assembled a dynamic roster of innovative leaders within Canada’s aerospace industry, across multiple regions to offer the best solution for Canada’s future fighter.

“Saab is committed to securing long-term relationships in Canada that will create a significant number of highly-skilled, sustainable jobs for Canadians within domestic and international supply chains,” Hjelm added.

'Gripen for Canada' Graphic [Saab]
A 'Gripen for Canada' graphic. Saab

The company has marketed the ‘Gripen for Canada Team’ as a “genuine ‘Made in Canada’ solution”, which will benefit both the Canadian taxpayer and aerospace industry in terms of life cycle and sustainment costs. It adds that the Gripen “meets all of Canada’s specific defence requirements, offering exceptional performance, advanced technical capabilities, future-proof upgradeability and NATO interoperability.”

In terms of industry contributions, IMP Aerospace & Defence would provide Canadian-based production and in-service support for the RCAF Gripen fleet – if selected. CAE will contribute training and mission system solutions, with Peraton Canada providing avionic and test equipment component maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), along with material management. GE Aviation would provide and sustain the Gripen E’s F414 engines in Canada.

Alongside Saab, two more companies are vying to provide Canada with its next-generation fighter fleet. Boeing is offering its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet – which has been a source of complications in recent years as Canada scrapped plans to acquire 18 examples in late 2017 due to a US-Canada trade dispute between Boeing’s commercial division and Canadian aerospace manufacturer, Bombardier. At the time, plans to acquire F/A-18E/Fs from Boeing had already been approved by the US State Department.

Saab Gripen E [Saab/Linus Svensson] #1
The first serial production Gripen E for the Swedish Air Force in flight. This example - registration 396002 (c/n 39-6002) sports a grey splinter camouflage. Saab/Linus Svensson

Lockheed Martin is competing with the F-35 Lightning II, which was not allowed to compete in the FFCP until changes to the industrial technological benefits (ITB) were introduced, which opened the door for the F-35 to compete in the competition. These changes have not been welcomed by the other contending companies, with both Boeing and Saab raising concerns.

Other companies in contention included Dassault Aviation and Eurofighter, offering the Rafale and Typhoon respectively. The former pulled out of the competition in late 2018 and the latter withdrew in mid-2019.