Monday, June 30, 2014

Sweden Opts For New Gripen E Fighter Aircraft Instead of Remanufactured Ones

The Swedish parliament has voted in favor of amending the existing contract for the delivery of 60 Gripen E fighter aircraft. Originally, the aircraft were to be converted from existing Gripen C currently used. The Swedish Air Force will now receive completely new aircraft instead of remanufactured ones.

This change comes shortly after the Gripen program suffered a setback when the public in Switzerland voted against the purchase of 22 Gripen E/F fighter aircraft. Switzerland had been expected the become the first export customer for the latest variant of the Gripen and Swiss pilots had already taken active part in the testing and development of the Gripen E/F.

If Switzerland does not purchase the Gripen, production of the Gripen E/F would almost certainly be affected and very likely raise the cost of the aircraft. This raises the importance for Sweden of finding a new partner, the most obvious one being Brazil, which selected the Gripen E/F as its new fighter. A contract with Brazil would help lessen the loss in Switzerland.

The Swedish decision to go for new aircraft also means that there will be many more used Gripen aircraft available that could be leased to other Air Forces. Used Gripen aircraft are currently being leased to Hungary and the Czech Republic. South Africa and Thailand are the other users besides Sweden itself.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

UK Launches Third Astute Class Submarine

Artful, the third of the Astute class of nuclear attack submarines, has been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2015. The previous two submarines, Astute and Ambush, were commissioned in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

The Royal Navy will have a total of seven Astute class submarines. The remaining four, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and Ajax, are expected to be commissioned between 2018 and 2024.

The Astute class submarines will join the Trafalgar class submarines, seven of which were commissioned between 1983 and 1991. Of these two have already been decommissioned, with one more expected this year in 2014.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Australia Opts For 58 Additional F-35 Fighter Aircraft

Australia has decided that it will purchase 58 additional F-35A fighter aircraft on top of the 14 it had already approved to buy earlier. While not a firm contract, this bring the total number of F-35 aircraft it has committed to buy to 72.

While this number is still less than the 100 Australia had originally planned to buy when it became one of the eight partner countries in the F-35 program, the move is welcome news for the F-35 program as there had a slight possibility that the number would have been even less.

The F-18E/F was suggested by some as a viable candidate to replace some of the F-35 aircraft. This would have reduced the number of F-35 to be build and that would in turn raise the cost of the F-35, which is already troubled by escalating costs and other technical problems during development.

Barring future costs increases, the aircraft are expected to cost around $11.5 billion and this makes it the largest commitment to the F-35 program, outside of the United States. The first aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2018 and should enter operational service in 2020.