Success with the Gripen integrated air defence system (GIADS) in Thailand has prompted SAAB to offer an air, sea and ground networked air defence system for the Asian and world markets.
The JAS 39 Gripen fighter, the Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, and ship combat management systems (CMC) form the three principal elements of the system.
In an exclusive chat with Defenseworld.net Dan-Ake Endtedt, President and CEO of Saab Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. said that the GIADS had proved to be a huge success for the Thai military in the way they manage their air defence. Saab has delivered F-12 fighters and two Erieye 340 AEW&C, radars, command and control and networking systems. The system was declared operational by the Thai military during September 2013.
Being perhaps the only fighter aircraft manufacturer in the world which offers an integrated system, Saab sees a great future for this approach to air defence rather than the mix-and-match systems from competing manufacturers which currently comprise the bulk of fighter and surveillance procurement programs.
However, one concern remains; there could be a possibility of information being compromised with a single manufacturer having access to a country’s airborne surveillance system from a maintenance perspective. Here, Endtedt is emphatic that the tactical data-links could be proprietary to each country with the host military having full control over it.
Saab’s GIADS could be a game-changer of sorts with several fighter aircraft procurement programs in the Asia-Pacific region likely to mature into request for proposals in the short to medium term. As fighters are only one of elements of present –day air defence, with the early warning and data gathering and analysis systems playing a vital role in engaging the enemy, The GIADS could be the way forward.
The integrated approach could prove to be cost-effective on the one hand with a high level of technical compatibility on the other. Manufacturers offering stand-alone fighters even if they are bigger and capable of carrying more.