It’s indeed a shot down to the two most said and favorite candidates, US made Boeing F-18E Super Hornet and European made Eurofighter Typhoon when the Sun daily reported that the RMAF is considering an offer by Saab to lease 18 JAS-39 Gripen MRCA fighter. (here)
The RMAF Chief was quoted to say that leasing the Gripen is a cheaper solution considering the huge capital expenditure needed for the procurement of new fighters. Should the RMAF opted for the Gripen, this would be another upset for the Eurofighter Typhoon as it has also seen a similar set back when the Swiss Air Force chooses the Gripen over two potential candidate, the Typhoon and its rival, the French made Dassault Rafale.
Despite the combat capability of both fighters, Gripen’s lowest cost has been the main reason for its selection over the other two types of aircraft. Nevertheless, should the RMAF chooses the Typhoon, Rafale or the Super Hornet, it may only afford to acquire around 12 of such aircraft.
While the Swiss Air Force is considering the new NG variant (the Gripen E and Gripen F), in which 22 will be procured as part of their F-5E Tiger II replacement program. In the mean time, they will also lease 11 Gripen C and Gripen D until their orders are fully delivered. (here)
Saab’s leasing program has also benefited other countries including Czech Republic and Hungary, both have leased 14 Gripen C and Gripen D fighters for their respective Air Forces.
Should the RMAF really chooses Gripen, then it will be the second air arm in the ASEAN region to operate the Swedish made fighter after the RTAF. 2 of the aircraft have attended last year’s LIMA 2011 airshow on behalf of Saab.
Beside from operating 12 Gripen C and Gripen D, the RTAF also procured 2 Saab S100 Argus AEW&C aircraft, another Swedish type aircraft which is said to be procured by the RMAF sometime in the near future to fulfill its AEW&C requirement.(here)