ExpoDefensa 2019: SAAB offers Gripen E to replace Kfir aircraft of Colombian Air Force


At ExpoDefensa 2019, the Swedish Company SAAB promotes its single-seat and dual-seat Gripen fighters to replace Kfir combat aircraft fleet of Colombian Air Force. The Kfir is an Israeli-built all-weather multirole combat aircraft based on the French Dassault Mirage 5, equipped with Israeli avionics and an Israeli-built version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.


SAAB offers Gripen E to replace Kfir aircraft of Colombian Air Force 925 001
Scale model of Gripen fighter aircraft at the booth of SAAB during ExpoDefensa 2019, defense and security exhibition in Bogota, Colombia. (Picture source Army Recognition)


As a result of a trade agreement between Colombia and Israel in 1989 the Colombian government bought a batch of 12 ex-IAF Kfir C.2s and one TC.2, which were delivered to the Colombian Air Force (FAC) in 1989–1990. Since then, all the C.2s have been upgraded to the C.7 variant. The FAC Kfirs have been widely used in ground-attack missions during counter-insurgency operations against Colombian terrorists. Colombian Kfirs are armed with Python 3 IR-homing AAMs.

SAAB will offer 12 single-seat Gripen Es and 3 dual-seat Gripen Fs. Gripen E/F is part of the Gripen E-series and a new fighter aircraft system. Developed to counter and defeat advanced future threats, the E-series is for customers with more pronounced threats or wider territories to secure. The E-series has a new and more powerful engine, improved range performance and the ability to carry greater payloads. It also has a new AESA-radar, InfraRed Search and Track system, highly advanced electronic warfare and communication systems together with superior situational awareness.

Gripen E/F has weapons for all types of missions, from guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments. Additionally, the aircraft has an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability.

The single-seat Gripen E is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun. This can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets and is suitable for air policing missions. Gripen E/F can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special missions. These include Litening, Reccelite, DJRP and MRPS pods.

Saab expects competition from Lockheed Martin and its F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon and Eurofighter Typhoon, while IAI is offering the upgraded Kfir Next-Generation (NG). Colombia currently operates Kfir Block 60s.


SAAB offers Gripen E to replace Kfir aircraft of Colombian Air Force 925 002
A Colombian Air Force crew chief guides a Colombian Kfir fighter jet pilot into a parking space at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 9, 2018. (Picture source U.S. DoD)


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