SAAB's Gripen Fighter Jet deal In Danger, Philippine Air Force Now Down to These Two Options

The main export agencies within the Swedish government sphere attempts to derail the project of the Philippine Air Force's Multirole Fighter Jet Acquisition Program, risking SAAB's JAS-39 Gripen deal in the process.

What will it be for the Philippines to take?

The JAS-39 Gripen, one of the candidates for the Philippine Air Force's MRF Project.

In this report from a Swedish News Outlet Aftonbladet, a controversy was brewing as groups within the Swedish government was apparently 'out of the loop', regarding the update of SAAB's potential sale of its Multirole Fighter Jet to a certain country, named as the Philippines.

This come as Sweden is reinforcing its arms export laws, highlighting human-rights violations taken by a sitting government as a measuring tool for them to consider the exportation of products like the JAS-39 Gripen to a country like the Philippines.

Highlights of the concerns that some Swedish decision-makers have is the current administration's Human Rights violations that have nothing to do with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), but rather the widely-reported "atrocities" that the local police force committed under the campaign called "The War on Drugs".

While these problems have persisted that can jeopardize the deal if left unresolved, the report also highlighted that the progress has made on the Philippine government's side to seal up the deal (apparently in sheer secrecy), at least before year 2021 ends.

If the sale pushes through...

Even with the Gripen ended up as one of the preferred candidates of the MRF deal of the Philippine Air Force, and with SAAB ended up as the winner of the contract, problems might still arise between the Swedish and the Philippine governments in the long run, especially with the human rights violations getting into the mix.

That means that spare parts and other essential components needed for continuous maintenance and operations of prospective PAF JAS-39 Gripen fighters can be held "hostage", in the same manner as what the Belgians of the Wallonia region did in withholding any weaponry made in that jurisdiction's factories, impairing any weaponry that the military has that has components that were made by Walloons.

This scrutiny reminisced the botched deal made by the Philippine Air Force in securing Bell 412 Helicopters from Canada, after the Canadian government decided to "review the deal" which have prompted the Philippine government to "cancel the deal altogether" and go for S-70i Black Hawk Helicopters instead, now forming a significant bulk of the current Air Force inventory.


This bold move that the Swedish government may take against the Philippines on the sale of its renowned JAS-39 Gripen Multirole Fighter Jets left the latter with two options, either
 - Pursue a deal with the United States for the F-16 Viper MRFs, or
 - Pursue a deal with the South Koreans for adding up orders of FA-50PH Light Fighter Trainer aircraft from the Korean Aerospace Industries

The first deal comes with a long shot that involves longer waiting times given that orders of F-16s are piling up with countries still buying them more in bulk (starting with countries like Taiwan, who bought 66 of them) while the United States government's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) providing a whole package of F-16 hardware that makes it more expensive than just buying the units alone.

That leaves with the second option, which itself is a nice idea given that the Philippine Air Force already possesses a single squadron of FA-50PH, with the budget of MRF getting them at least one or two more squadrons for the 5th Fighter Wing to use for its air interdiction missions under PADIZ or Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone.

What Remains to be Seen...

At the end of the day, it is still at the ball of the Philippine Air Force's higher hierarchy, along with the help of the Department of National Defense to sort this one up. 

As far as things are concerned, it is seen that the deal between the Philippines and Sweden's SAAB may ended up in catastrophic failure if this wasn't sort up.

Let it be given with more time to determine the overall outcome of the deal itself, and the fate of the Multirole Fighter Acquisition Project now lies on what will be unfolded in the next couple of weeks, if not months before the project be risked as a midnight project that it will be given over to the next administration to resolve all of its problems.



This website of the Philippine Military Analysis and Updates has just started rolling out in the open, so please bear with us as we are filling this platform up with defense analysis and updates, dealing more to the point of view that deals with policy-making and giving two cents on the news. This, in any way, comes with the facts laid and the author's thoughts of it, grounded with the factual information provided.


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