The current Swedish training aircraft SK 60 has roots in the 1960s, and the gap between this trusted old-timer and the modern generation of fighter jets is far too big. As the warplanes become increasingly more sophisticated, the demands on school aircraft are increasing; the pilots must learn how to handle various weapons, radars and communication systems.
"The gap between SK 60 and Griffin E is too great. We won't be effective if we continue practicing with SK 60. The sooner we can ditch it, the better," Colonel Magnus Liljegren told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
The situation is further complicated by the high flying costs. Since only a small part of the training can be performed on outdated planes, pilots would have to do more training in the Gripen E. And flying a fighter jet is significantly more expensive than flying a small training aircraft.
"The disadvantage of the simple school aircraft is that you need to practice more with Gripen, which makes it more expensive," Claes Thagemark from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration told Svenska Dagbladet.
In this battle, Swedish Saab has teamed up with the American Boeing. Saab's management naturally hopes to win the US contract, but looks for more.
"I hope we'll get the same platform for trainer aircraft in Sweden," Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab's aviation operations, told Svenska Dagbladet.
Nevertheless, Magnus Liljegren emphasized the need for speed and a better overall performance of the plane. According to him, Saab and Boeing's joint win in the US would also whet the Swedish military's appetite. The hidden bonus is that they expect to get the plane sooner if it is produced by a Swedish company.