Sweden has put its full weight behind Saab as the latter has entered the battle to win the Indian Air Force’s requirement for 126 MRCA — multi-role combat aircraft. While they wait for the Indian government’s RFP (Request for Proposals) to be issued, there is no letting up by Saab to keep the fighter ahead of the times by continuously upgrading the Gripen.
The industry team behind Gripen is embarking on a software upgrade that sharpens Gripen’s claws in the air-to-surface role, and enhances all of the aircraft’s operational capabilities. Under a SEK1 billion (US$139 million) contract, signed mid-2006 between the Gripen group of partner companies and FMV (Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration), Swedish Gripens will receive a completely new system software fit, known as Version 19. Work on the contract will continue for two years, to be completed by the end of 2008. Version 19 introduces new capabilities for Sweden’s Gripens, some of which are already in use with Gripen’s export customers. In that respect the version 19 upgrade is an important step towards a common standard for the entire Gripen ‘family’.