Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Canada 4 Saab? Why Saab should compete:

Do they even want to deal with us?

A lot of content on this blog assumes that Saab is marketing its Gripen fighter to Canada.  Saab has yet to confirm this.  Lockheed is in the running.  So is Boeing.  Dassault has announced that it is throwing its chapeau in the ring.  So far, the Eurofighter consortium have been relatively silent.  There has been much talk about a Canadian Typhoon, and it certainly has its fans(myself included) but there hasn't been so much as a hint of a marketing campaign yet.

So where is Saab?  There has been little talk of Canada's fighter purchase from them, other than a brief mention that the Canadian government has "asked for data" on their official blogsite.  An article on New agency Bloomberg reveals slightly more, that Saab has a "formal request", but have not yet made the decision to initiate a marketing campaign.  Eddy de la Motte, head of Gripen exports states:
Canada has strong ties to the U.S. and we are really looking at trying to assess our chances,” 
 Well, Mr. de la Motte, your chances here in Canada are better than you probably think.  Here's some reasons why:

  • Canada's military budget is tight.

Unlike our rowdy neighbours to the south, Canada doesn't blow our the majority of our hard-earned tax dollars on defence.  We are 14th in the list of "Top 15" military spenders, spending only 1.4% of our GDP and 1.4% of the world's total.  This is despite living in the second largest country in the world, a founding member of NATO, and playing a major role in both world wars, Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Libya, and UN peacekeeping efforts around the globe.  

More cuts are on the way. Canada is determined to avoid the same fiscal crisis that that affected other countries, and our governments have always looked to cuts in to the military as way to balance the budget.  Our current Conservative government is the most pro-military in years, and military spending is far from a sacred cow for them.  If a Liberal or NDP government were to form, military spending would likely be cut even further.

Given this, selling the Gripen on its low cost to procure and sustain will surely win it a 
favourable ranking on the scorecard.

  • Canada is fed up with the American Military Industrial Complex
The F-35 has been an endless source of controversy here in Canada long before it was 
anywhere else.  Since it was selected, uncontested, in 2010, there have been complaints of Canada being "in the pockets" of the Pentagon chiefs and American defence contractors' lobby groups.  Ongoing problems with the F-35's performance and development have led many Canadians to believe that we were sold a "bill of goods" without any substance to back it up.  The now infamous KPMG report solidifies this assumption even further.

"Trust us!"
It isn't just the F-35 however.  Canada is still waiting for it's Sikorsky Cyclone helicopters.  Promised to be delivered and operational by 2008, they now appear to be pushed back to 2015.  

Need more?  How about the Lockheed CC-130Js "Super Hercules" that were delivered with counterfeit Chinese parts?

It would seem that procuring military aircraft from the U.S. involves more headaches, controversy, and empty promises than actual aircraft.  Despite our close ties to America, Canada has not always purchased U.S. military hardware.  The best and most recent examples of this would be the AgustaWestland Cormorant and the Airbus Polaris.  The Tornado was considered instead instead of Canada's CF-18, but was ultimately rejected on it lack of interception abilities and cost, not its place of origin.

Saab merely needs to present its track record of successful deliveries and happy customers.

  • Canada could share the load.
As the F-35 falters, so does the Gripen's prospects rise.  Denmark has "reset" it's F-35 purchase, and other countries are almost sure to follow.  The Gripen has a good chance in Brazil.  If the JSF 
project is cancelled, or if more countries back out, the Gripen has a very good chance of picking up conquest sales.  If this happens, the Gripen may be in great demand with many sales being dependent on delivery timetables.  It would make sense to partner with a country, that not only has an established aerospace industry, but a history of constructing and developing high performance fighter aircraft both independently and under licence.  

Canada could do more than simply help build the Gripen, we could help make it even better.

  • Canada would be a very prestigious conquest.

In terms of actual sales numbers, Canada would likely only be able to purchase 65-80 aircraft.  Not a huge sale by any means.  But the value of selling to Canada would be more than just the monetary value alone, but it would make a huge statement.  The idea of a Swedish fighter being chosen over not one, but two American fighters, by America's neighbour and closest ally would send shockwaves through the military aerospace world.  The Gripen would be rightfully seen as the world-class fighter that it is, rather than being dismissed as a fighter more suitable for smaller or less developed countries.

"CANADA CHOOSES GRIPEN OVER F-35, SUPER HORNET, OR TYPHOON."  Makes a nice headline to put in Saab's PR material, don't you think?

  • Many Canadian have already chosen the Gripen, and are spreading the word.

There is no "typhoon4canada" blog.  Nor is there one for the Rafale, or Super Hornet.  There is a "F-35.ca" website, but this is clearly run by Lockheed's PR department.  There is a "Canadians for the F-35 Lightning II" Facebook group, but it's members are most certainly not all there to praise the F-35.  Many are critics trying to "educate" the other members.

The "Gripen for Canada" Facebook page, however is growing fast.  While not all its members believe the Gripen would be the best choice, none have criticized it, and most would put it as their second choice.  

I think this picture says it all...

Canadians love an underdog.  We also love simplicity, practicality, and versatility.  We also love watching hockey while enjoying a good beer.  Our winters are cold, but they build character and bring us closer together.

Canadian may be neighbours with Americans, but Sweden is the country we would prefer to hang out with.


  1. F-35 under attack in the netherlands. Netherlands planning to reduce number of airplanes or even opt out.


    1. Thanks for the link.

      Its getting harder and harder to keep track of all these F-35 order cuts and "resets". Maybe I should devote a page to it...

      Who's next to drop out do you think? My money's on Italy. They already have the Typhoon, their economy isn't exactly the greatest right now, and recent election results there doesn't exactly bode well for the Lightning II.

  2. Keep up the good work. Proud to be a Canadian,Gripen NG all the way.