SAAB GETS SERIOUS

Gripen for Canada?  That sounds familiar...
It's happening.

After years of uncertainty, we now know that the Saab Gripen is a serious contender in the contest to replace the CF-18.

This may not seem like big news.  The Gripen has long been mentioned alongside other potential contenders like the F-35 and Super Hornet.  This humble writer has been extolling the Gripen's virtues for years.

So what is different now?

Saab has made it official.  After years of little to mention on its website, Canada now has a dedicated subsection.

Saab has also made a much more prominent appearance at this years CANSEC.  Not only do we have a media brief that focuses on Canada's needs, but Saab has a full size mock-up of the Gripen E on display.

That digicam tho...
Media briefings and mock-ups help raise awareness of the platform, but Saab has a long way to go before it can catch up to more established players like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Airbus.  What does a (relatively) small contractor like Saab have to offer that the others do not?

For one, Saab is focusing on the Gripen's typical strengths of cost efficiency, flexibility, and suitability for Arctic operations.  No surprise there.

But wait...  There's more.

Saab has committed to assemble Gripens in Canada.  

This give the Gripen a huge leg up in a contest that places a great deal of emphasis on industrial offsets and technology transfer.  It is a deal that Lockheed Martin and Boeing simply could not do.  Airbus has previously hinted that it may be able do this, but it would be difficult given the Typhoon's convoluted supply-chain and manufacturing process.

For Saab, building Gripens in Canada is a win-win scenario.  Not only does is entice a potential buyer, it takes some pressure off Saab's current Gripen assembly line, which has its hands full constructing fighters for Sweden, Brazil, and others.  Brazil has already taken advantage of Saab's offer to build fighters there.  If it makes economic sense to construct a small number (28 possibly more) of Gripens in Brazil, it certainly makes sense for Canada.

Beyond the economics, there is the simple matter of national pride that would come with Canada building its own fighters again.  Something that has not happened since...  What was that fighter called again?

The real question:  If Canada selects the Gripen, what do we call it?  We already have a Griffon helicopter, so a direct translation would not work.

A Canadian-made, delta-wing, mach 2 fighter?

Just call it the CF-39 Arrow II.

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