SAAB Gripen Returns to Dubai After 12-Year Absence - Canada We're Ready!
Lot of the potential customers we see around the world we know will attend the Dubai Airshow
- The appearance comes towards the end of an important year in the Gripen program, with the highlight being the first flight, in June, of the Gripen E. The next-generation model, which is due to begin deliveries to its Swedish and Brazilian customers in 2019. Hjelm says the flight-test program has so far completed "13, 14" flights.
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The Gripen has not been seen at the Dubai Airshow since 2005, but its presence this year does not mean the aircraft is being actively competed for fighter requirements in the region. Rather, according to Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab's aeronautics business, the type's overdue return to the Airshow is testament to the importance of the event globally.
"The Dubai Airshow is one of the last few really, really big international airshows," Hjelm says. "The reason we took Gripen this year was that it is a gathering place for many of our existing customers, but also, we hope, for our potential future customers from all around the world.
"We don't today foresee any customers in the region," he continues, "but a lot of the potential customers we see around the world we know will attend the Dubai Airshow. So that's the basic idea behind us going there, even though it is a long trip, and it's not an easy one to do."
The Gripen taking part in the flying display this week is a Swedish Air Force aircraft, flown and operated by Saab air and ground crews. Saab declines to give details of the route it took to get to Dubai.