August 25, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Saab AB has offered to sell 85 JAS Gripen fighter jets to the Netherlands, thus competing with Lockheed Martin for the replacement of the country's ageing F-16 fleet
RNlAF F-16AM #J-874 from 306 sqn conducts a mission over Afghanistan on May 28th, 2008, after receiving fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. The KC-135R is assigned to the 22nd EARS deployed from Fairchild AFB. [USAF photo by MSgt. Andy Dunaway]
The Swedish aerospace and defense company said on Monday that it had replied to the F-16 Replacement Questionnaire from the Dutch Ministry of Defense, offering 85 Gripen NG (Next Generation) aircraft to the Royal Netherlands
The Gripen NG is an upgrade on the Gripen D and made its maiden flight on May 27th 2008. It has an increased fuel capacity, a more powerful powerplant, increased payload capacity, upgraded avionics and other improvements.
Saab said it has responded to an open request by the Dutch Ministry of Defense by offering to sell 85 Next Generation Gripen fighters. The offer also includes training, spares, simulators and support.
Apparently they are also prepared to offer industrial co-operation to at least 100 percent of the total value of a possible contract, which it said would generate significant economic benefits and employment within the Dutch high-tech industry.
The Netherlands is already involved with Lockheed Martin in the production and support phase of building the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
However, between October and December, the country will consider other aircraft along with the F-35. These include the Rafale, Typhoon, and F-16 block 60
. Consideration will also be given to the new generation variant of the Gripen, the Super Hornet and an evaluation for extending the life of the current Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) F-16s now in use.
The Dutch request follows similar moves by NATO
, who have both requested information about other aircraft despite being involved in the Joint Strike Fighter program.
The Dutch Defense Ministry is expected to decide by 2010 how to replace its current generation of F-16 fighters.
The Gripen is already in-service with the air forces in Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa. Gripen is also operated by the UK's Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) for training test pilots worldwide.
The Royal Thai Air Force also ordered six aircraft for delivery in 2011, with a potential additional six at a later date.