Saab created an affordable, agile and smart fighter. With new threats arising on the horizon from venerable competitors, the company is wisely stepping up marketing efforts to secure new stakes – and continues to do so with an admirable mix of technical and business suave.
Marketing the aircraft in Latin America, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia and for Adversary Air programs, Saab is wisely and consistently pushing the Gripen to the four corners of the earth. Under the slogan of “No matter what your past is, your future is Gripen” the company is trying to sell the aircraft as an affordable and advanced alternative to F-16, Eurofighters and other mid range fighters. With the upcoming onslaught of F-16V proposals from the US and pre-owned F-16 popping up in the market – this may prove to be a difficult task.
The company’s business suave has created different purchasing or leasing schemes which are attractive to customers and create a real added value for the user. Furthermore, wisely creating and focusing attention on the current user base is a further testament of the holistic triad of theTechnical-Marketing-Operational overview the company has perfected to excellence.
An example is the annual Gripen seminar held at the company’s Stockholm headquarters this week to share the latest thoughts and insights on the aircraft with a global audience. In this seminar the continued evolvement of the Gripen C class was highlighted, including the Czech Air Force upgrading with the MS20 standard, which enables new missions for their Gripen C fleet. The ongoing Gripen E programme’s notable achievements since the 2017 seminar were covered, including its first flight and going supersonic. The recent announcement on a new Gripen E aerostructures facility showed the progress on the co-operation with Brazil, whilst the Gripen User Group of customers held their meetings there for the first time.
The subject of Electronic Warfare (EW) is gaining increasing awareness as advanced radars and missiles makes it imperative that a fighter is designed to compete in the EW battlespace. Inga Bergström, sales director for Gripen EW, explained how Gripen E has a sophisticated EW system integral to its design to ensure mission success against the wide spectrum of current and future threats.
In addition Saab recently revealed it’s Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM) aerostructures venture for the Brazilian Gripen fighter and is preparing to become part of Saab´s global supply chain. SAM will be responsible for producing six complex structural parts for Gripen acquired by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), such as the tail cone, aerodynamic brakes, wing box, front fuselage for the single-seat and two-seat versions and the rear fuselage for the single-seat version of the aircraft. When the operations starts at SAM in 2020, it will be with 55 employees. That number will until 2024 increase to 200. Among them engineers and technicians, who until then will be trained in Linköping, Sweden, for up to 24 months.
Using clever design, business models, production transfer of technology, supply chain diversity and focusing attention on the customer, Saab is creating a distinguished value proposal. The only question is – can it hold against the venerable F-16 and forces supporting it? Time will tell. Be that as it may, Saab is proving itself as a world class defense company, punching high above it’s weight.