While the Canadian government is unsure about which new fighter to buy, Saab tries to close the upcoming gap

In a surprise move on 14 December 2020, during Aéro Montréal’s Innovation Forum 2020, Saab AB announced that it is offering to create two new aerospace centres in Quebec that will create and protect thousands of aerospace related jobs.

The two new centres are part of Saab’s proposal of the Saab 39 Gripen for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project. Saab, in co-operation with the Swedish government, has offered the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 88 Gripen E fighter aircraft, with a comprehensive support and training package for the Future Fighter Capability Project.

The proposal includes a comprehensive, Canada-wide industrial and technological benefits programme of which these two centers have a key role. Known separately as the Gripen Centre and the Aerospace Research & Development Centre, they will be co-located in the Greater Montreal Region.

The Gripen Centre will be the fighter’s industrial and technological centerpiece, primarily staffed by the Gripen for Canada Team. Work at the Centre will be conducted by Canadians to ensure that the Gripen meets North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) requirements. The Gripen Centre will also act as a hub for supporting and sustaining the Gripen, while allowing Canada to manage future upgrades in-country.

The Aerospace R&D Centre will act as a focal point over decades for developing a rich ecosystem for research and innovation, representing a key component of Saab’s long-term vision in Canada. The Aerospace R&D Centre will develop, test and produce next generation aerospace systems and components to complement the existing Canadian aerospace industry, which may include unmanned aerial systems, artificial intelligence and environmentally friendly aviation technologies.

The race is certainly not over yet.

Earlier, Lockheed Martin submitted the F-35 Lightning II Request for Proposal response for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project. It was stated that the F-35 is the most advanced, best value fighter to replace the RCAF F-18 Hornet fleet. With its advanced sensors, the RCAF F-35 would surely be appreciated within the Five Eyes (FVEY) community. The FVEY-community is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

If the F-35 is chosen by Canada, then all within the FVEY community, with the exception of New Zealand, will have a true fifth generation stealth fighter in combination with an intelligence sensor platform. The latter, coupled with Canada's pledge to invest millions of dollars in the development of the F-35 stealth jet fighter, could well be the deciding factor.

To be continued.

Photo and graphic: Saab AB

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