The Swedish government offer to supply Saab JAS 39 Gripen multi-role fighters (MRF) to the Philippines was among the key topics discussed by Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. and Swedish Ambassador to Manila Annika Thunborg in a recent meeting. The Gripen is one of the two jet fighters eyed by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to fulfill its Multi-role Fighter (MRF) requirement. Thunborg paid a courtesy call on Faustino at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on December 21 to discuss mutual interests in the field of defense. The requirements for the MRF project stipulate that the offered aircraft must be “fourth generation or higher.
The MRF project is supposed to be part of Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program slated for 2018 to 2022, which aims to acquire more equipment for external defense. The project also requires 12 MRFs at least capable of patrolling the country’s protected waters and airspace. The MRFs are expected to backstop the military’s existing fleet of 12 South Korean-made Mach 1.5-capable FA-50PH lightweight jet fighters. Another contender in the PAF’s MRF acquisition program is the Lockheed Martin F-16V “Viper” jet fighter. Any aircraft that will be selected must be able to integrate with existing radar systems that have a range of about 250 nautical miles.
“The OIC, DND and the Swedish Ambassador discussed the PAF MRF Acquisition Project and the offer of Swedish defense and aerospace company Saab AB of Gripen aircraft, which has been on the PAF’s shortlist. Both officials stressed on the importance of building a strong air defense. Relatedly, the OIC, DND underscored the need to improve capabilities in the context of regional security developments, mentioning the shift in focus of the Philippine defense sector from internal security to external defense. The Swedish Government to enter into discussions on an agreement on cooperation on defense materiel, as earlier proposed by the Philippine side,” Andolong said.
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab AB. In September 2016, Saab announced its intention to open an office in Manila to support its campaign to sell the Gripen to fill the Philippine Air Force’s requirement for 12 multirole fighters; Saab also intends to offer ground infrastructure, integrated C2 systems and datalinks, similar to the capabilities of the Royal Thai Air Force. According to Swedish newspaper aftonbladet swedish ISP exportkontrollradet (Export Control Council) have ruled in November 2022 to approve export to the Philippines.