14 November 2009
Gripen for RTAAF (photo : Saab)
In what is the clearest indication of the likely US attitude towards the supply of systems and technology to the Swedish Gripen, were it to win the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) race, the US has agreed to the fitting of Royal Thai Air Force Gripen aircraft with its weapons systems. These include the AIM-9M and AIM-120 C-5 air-to-air rocket system, precision bombs and AGM-66 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile.
A controversy over whether the US would be willing to supply components and systems for the Gripen aircraft under its end use monitoring and technology transfer laws had apparently placed questions on the strength of the Swedish pitch earlier this year. Competitors in the race had questioned its ability to easily deliver parts and systems that were claimed to be substantially US-built.
But with the US now agreeing to supply systems to Thai Gripens, senior Indian officials think it would be difficult for the US to deny systems to any ‘Indian’ Gripens, after agreeing to supply them to Thailand. “They would find it difficult to say no to us, if they’re providing systems for the Thai. Especially after all the fuss we went through over the End Use Agreement,” says one senior official.
Saab for now has little to say, with Anne Lewis-Olsson, Communications Director, India restricting her comments to, “Saab is glad to see the Thai air force has selected US weapons apart from the Swedish RBS-15.”