The Swiss defence procurement agency, armasuisse, has formally recommended to Saab not to participate with Gripen E in the upcoming Air 2030 flight evaluations in Switzerland.
The reason for the recommendation is that the flight tests have been designed to only evaluate aircraft that are operationally ready in 2019. The flight tests are part of the fighter evaluation process that foresees aircraft deliveries in 2025 under the Swiss Air Force’s Air 2030 fighter procurement program to replace its fleet of F/A-18 Hornet and F-5 E/F Tiger fighter aircraft.
Saab said in a statement it has decided not to attend the Swiss flight tests in Payerne Air Base 24-28 June.
According to Saab, Gripen E will enter into operational service years before Switzerland has scheduled deliveries and will meet all its defined capabilities. However, the Gripen E development plan does not match the Swiss plan to perform flight tests with aircraft that are operationally ready in 2019.
Gripen E is currently being developed, tested and produced for Sweden and Brazil. The programme is running at a fast and successful speed, with customer deliveries starting later this year.
Saab submitted a proposal for Gripen E on 25 January 2019 upon an invitation from armasuisse. Since the submission of the proposal in January, the armasuisse’ expectations on the flight tests have evolved to expect participation of operationally ready aircraft. As Gripen E is yet to become operational, Saab has presented solutions to perform the Swiss flight tests in 2019. An offer to complement the Gripen E test aircraft with an operational Gripen C aircraft for the flight tests in June 2019 has not been accepted by armasuisse.
Saab statement said that the company believe that Gripen E is the best choice for Switzerland and that the offer, as presented in January 2019, still stands.