Swedish Gripen C/D upgrade aims to keep type relevant until mid-2030s

Sweden’s Försvarets Materielverk (FMV, Defence Materiel Administration) has contracted Saab to upgrade the Flygvapnet’s (Swedish Air Force’s) entire JAS 39C/D Gripen fleet in a bid to keep the multi-role fighters operationally relevant until the mid-2030s.

The upgrade contract – valued at SEK500m ($52.7m) – comes following the completion of an extensive feasibility study, which was collaboratively carried out by the FMV, Swedish Armed Forces and industry in 2021. This current contract covers the initial work required to ensure the programme’s schedule, with supplementary orders expected to be placed on an ongoing basis through 2022.

Swedish AF Gripen C [Saab/Ramon Wenink]
Sweden aims to maintain the operational relevancy of its entire Saab JAS 39C/D Gripen fleet until the mid-2030s through a series of upgrades, which will be completed in the second half of this decade. The upgraded multi-role fighters will be used to complement the more advanced Gripen Es in Swedish Air Force service. Saab/Ramon Wenink

Commenting on the upgrade, Ingela Mathiasson – head of Aviation Equipment FMV – said: “The work will ensure a cost-effective solution during the long period that the aircraft will be used by the Armed Forces. It also includes harmonisation with the JAS 39E Gripen to enable collaboration between the two versions of the Gripen system.”

Little has been disclosed by the FMV and Saab regarding the specifics of the upgrade contract, but the Swedish aerospace and defence company confirmed that it will feature an undisclosed number of “capability enhancements to preserve the operational relevance of the fighter.” The FMV adds that the upgrade work also aims to maintain and expand the accessibility of the JAS 39C/D.

A spokesperson for the FMV told Key.Aero that the “upgrade programme includes the entire Swedish JAS 39C/D fleet and will be completed in the second half of the 2020s.”

The single-seat JAS 39C Gripen entered operational service with the Swedish Air Force in 2004, with 75 delivered in total. Sweden also received 26 two-seat JAS 39Ds, which entered service in 2005. AirForces Intelligence data states that – as of April 12, 2022 – the Swedish Air Force operates 73 JAS 39Cs and 24 JAS 39Ds. It is expected that Sweden will receive its first two serial production examples of the more advanced Gripen E in the near future.