Bengaluru: Saying Gripen was the world's best fighter for the world's lowest price, Saab Director for India Eddy de la Motte said that it was the only Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) option for India which, in combination with Saab's industrial cooperation programme, could make India an exporter of aircraft like Sweden by 2020.
Saying that both India and Sweden were 'non-aligned', he said the main problem Gripen faced in most countries was political pressure from the US on the government in question. Notwithstanding this, he said, Gripen had ''won more competitions than anyone else''.
Motte said that the lifecycle cost (LCC) for the Gripen came to around $3,000 per flying hour, as compared to around $8,000 per flying hour for the American F-16. He pointed out that Gripen is already in service with the Swedish, Hungarian, Czech Republic and South African Air Forces. The UK Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide.
He said that the Royal Thai Air Force had ordered 4 Gripen Ds, 2 Gripen Cs and C2s and an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system from Saab. Brazil has shortlisted the Gripen along with the Boeing FA-18 Hornet and the French Rafale.
With a range of 4,000 km and a turnaround time of just 10 minutes, the Gripen, he said, was the world's most advanced medium fighter, with a proven engine that had the same life as the aircraft, AESA radar, tactical DataLink, Supercruise, advanced electronic warfare systems and a flexible advanced weapons capacity.
A combination of low radar, IR and visual signatures, along with AESA radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) sensor and superior sensor fusion gave it a 'see-first-kill-first ability, ensuring a high kill ratio in any engagement. This, combined with its high operational availability, rapid turnaround and minimal support requirements, enabled a sustained high sortie-rate, giving it the ability to meet the most demanding operations with minimum resources.