In response to a customer request in January, and with strong support from the Swedish government, Saab has submitted a ‘best and final offer’ (BAFO) to the Finnish defence procurement agency in support of the nation’s HX fighter programme, the company announced on 30 April. Current indications are that Finland will complete its evaluation process and make a procurement decision before year end.
Aimed at replacing the capability provided by the current F/A-18 C/D HORNET fleet, the Saab offer comprises 64 GRIPEN E fighters, two GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and what the company describes as “an extensive weapons package.” The proposed solution features the very latest in advanced technology for the continuously changing and very challenging operational environment. GRIPEN is designed and built to defeat the threats of the Nordic region, and provides a very compliant response to the requirements outlined by the customer. In addition, it is designed for road-base operations in a harsh climate, as well as facilitating easy maintenance by conscript mechanics. The offering includes some of the most advanced weapons, such as METEOR for air targets at medium to long distance, IRIS-T for air targets at short distance, SPEAR for ground targets at medium distance and the KEPD350/TAURUS for long-range strike missions against ground targets.
GlobalEye brings unique additional sensor capabilities – for joint operations with the GRIPEN as well as providing benefits to the Finnish defence forces in their entirety. As a strategic asset, GlobalEye will serve across the entire operational spectrum, providing vital information for Finland. The combined effect of GRIPEN and GlobalEye will be potentially very powerful.
“With Gripen’s outstanding capabilities and availability, Finland can renew its fighter fleet without compromising on the number of fighters. Thanks to a truly competitive life-cycle cost, the Finnish Defence Forces will be able to stay within the budgetary targets, and even secure a margin for other vital defence capabilities over the years to come,” stated Saab President & CEO, Micael Johansson. “With GlobalEye, we bring significant additional sensor capabilities that will provide strategic and real-time information to GRIPEN and the entire joint defence forces. We are happy to include GlobalEye as the world´s most advanced AEW&C platform.”
The proposal also comprises the necessary equipment and associated services needed for operating the system through an extensive industrial co-operation programme, with the objective of building national capabilities in Finland for security of supply. This includes know-how and technology transfer of maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities, parts production, as well as final assembly of engines and aircraft. Saab will also establish a GRIPEN & GlobalEye System Centre in Finland, to ensure independent operations and continuous capability growth of the systems until 2060.
Finland is an important market for Saab. The company has a long history in the country and is constantly expanding its activities, establishing partnerships with local industry and academia. More recently, Saab has initiated extensive research co-operation with Aalto University, established a Technology Centre in Tampere, currently employing over 50 engineers, and has extensive co-operation with the research institute VTT and several Finnish defence companies.