Exploiting Opportunities Across Wide Product and Service Spectrum
Saab is busy exploiting the opportunities it sees across a wide spectrum of products and services in the Latin American market, Santiago Rivas reports for MONCh from Santiago de Chile.
The company had a strong presence at FIDAE 2018 last week, highlighted once again by a model of the GRIPEN NG, which will commence deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) in 2019. A newcomer to FIDAE, though, was the GIRAFFE 1X, a new, solid-state and enhanced variant of the well-established radar family. Lightweight (100kg all up, 60kg for the antenna and 40 for the mounting), small and rapidly deployable, GIRAFFE 1X has a useful range of 75km on land or 100km at sea, making it ideal for mounting on small platforms to be deployed against very small targets, and allows for the addition of an IFF capability. The fast-rotating antenna gives a 70° field of view and +/-10° in elevation.
Protection solutions on offer included EW and ECM systems, incorporating radar warning receivers, infra red, laser and missile approach warning systems, with associated chaff and flare dispensers, for aircraft, surface ships, submarines and ground vehicles – the latter with smoke dispensers for obscuring laser targeting systems. Saab protection solutions are already in use in 30 countries and currently equip the EC225 helicopters of the FAB.
Training solutions for ground forces were also highlighted on Saab’s FIDAE exhibit this year. The latest iteration of the laser-based tactical engagement solution was demonstrated to great interest: now expanded to include additional capabilities such as hand grenades and battlefield casualty diagnosis and treatment, the system benefits from decades of experience at Saab in training and simulation expertise. A laser-based simulation solution for the CARL GUSTAV anti-tank weapon was also on display.
GRIPEN, however, remains Saab’s most cherished ambition in Latin America. Inauguration of the factory for assembly and component manufacture in Brazil is due for 7 May, from which date it will gradually increase the percentage of the aircraft manufactured in country, until the last aircraft are fully assembled in Brazil. Such reliability of supply is increasingly important for regional customers such as Colombia, which has expressed a significant interest in the type to replace its aging KFIRs. Frederik Gustafson, Saab’s Head of Sales and Marketing for Latin America, explained to MONCh that both Ecuador and Peru should be staring programmes for replacing their current combat fleets in the near future and that, in the case of Argentina, the recent improvement in relations with the UK could alter the aircraft’s prospects to become the force’s new fighter. The Chief of Staff of the Argentine Air Force, Brig.-Gen. Victor Amrein, visited the Saab exhibit during FIDAE 2018 and expressed particular interest in the GRIPEN NG.
Gustafson noted that the principal challenge to be faced is that operators and political authorities alike now seek to make procurement decisions based on total life cycle costs rather than simple acquisition costs.