Swedish membership in NATO opens great opportunities for cooperation with France in combat aircraft

Swedish neutrality, stemming from an international position dating back to 1814, was one of the pillars of the country's international policy during the 19th and 20th century, allowing Stockholm to preserve peace on its territory for more than 200 years. However, the country has never neglected, during these years, its own defense and its strategic autonomy. Thus, Swedish aeronautical companies, such as ASJA and Saab, undertook from the beginning of the 30s to develop national combat aircraft, such as the Svenska Aero Jaktfalken biplane which made its first flight in 1929, or the Saab 17 dive bomber , the first all-metal aircraft designed in the country, and which made its first flight in 1940. At the end of the Second World War, Stockholm undertook to increase its efforts in this field, with the design of fighter aircraft recognized for their efficiency, such as the Saab 19 Tunnan, the first fighter equipped with a turbojet whose first flight took place in 1948 and which was built in 661 units, including 30 for the Austrian air force, another non-aligned country, then the Saab 32 Lansen , a two-seater long-range fighter bomber whose prototype took to the air in 1952 and which was produced in 450 copies for the Flygvapnet, the Swedish air force.

The Saab 19/29 Tunnan was Saab's first post-war jet fighter. It made its first flight in 1948 powered by a turbojet of British origin.

However, Swedish military aeronautical construction obtained real international recognition in 1960 with the entry into service of the J35 Draken, a multi-purpose single-engine delta-wing fighter capable of reaching Mach 2, and produced 651 copies between 1955 and 1974, including 24 for Austrian Air Force, 51 for the Danish Air Force and 50 for the Finnish Air Force, the last of which was withdrawn from service in 2009. In 1967, Saab produced another highly successful aircraft, the Saab 37 Viggen, a multipurpose high-performance single-engine delta wing and canard planes, which was produced from 1970 to 1990 at 321 copies for the Swedish air force, but which suffered from competition from the F-16 and F-18 on the international scene, despite remarkable performance. Since 1988, Saab has finally been producing a last high quality device, the JAS 39 Gripen, which entered service in 1996 and which was notably chosen by Hungary (14 aircraft on hire), South Africa (16 aircraft including 9 two-seaters), the Czech Republic (14 aircraft on hire) and Thailand (12 aircraft including 4 two-seaters). In 2013, Saab also won a contract for 36 JAS 39 Next Generation Gripen E/Fs in Brazil, as the country recently announced the next order for a second batch of devices built on site.

The J-35 Draken demonstrated Swedish expertise in designing high-performance combat aircraft.

In fact, Sweden is today one of the few Western countries that has demonstrated its ability to design and implement combat aircraft in the long term in an autonomous manner, even if Swedish combat aircraft have always integrated Western technologies. critical, particularly in terms of propulsion. Stockholm intended to continue its efforts in this area with the Flysystem 2020 program aimed at developing the successor to the Gripen E/F by 2035. To do this, the Swedish authorities have approached the British FCAS program in 2021, but in a limited way and only to co-develop certain common technologies, without joining the Tempest program itself. Stockholm still wished, at this date, to maintain a neutral posture, and therefore to have extended strategic autonomy. Sweden's and Finland's application for membership of the Atlantic Alliance, following the Russian aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, reshuffles the cards in this area, both for Stockholm and for the Flygvapnet and the manufacturer Saab, with new interoperability constraints but also new opportunities for cooperation, in particular with one of its main competitors so far on the international scene, France.

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