The United States is pushing hard to “take out” the Swedish Gripen from competition in the Philippines.

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Will Sweden experience the same disappointment as France did when the Swiss authorities turned to the F-35A to the detriment of the Rafale, when all the information gave the French plane the winner of the competition? It's possible. Indeed, until recently, the single-jet Saab Gripen JAS-39 fighter was given as the future winner against the F-16V Block 70/72 of the American Lockheed-Martin, for the modernization of the Philippine fighter fleet, or rather its reconstruction after the Philippine F-5 Tigers were withdrawn from service in 2004 without being replaced, apart from the 12 South Korean FA-50 training and attack aircraft acquired in 2012. But following the joint visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Manila to remonstrate with their Filipino counterparts, Foreign Secretary Manalo and Secretary of National Defense Galvez, things have, in any case, evidence, considerably evolved, in favor of the US industry.

The two pillars of the Biden Administration's foreign policy have indeed arrived in Manila with a very attractive offer to rebuild the Philippine Armed Forces, heavily tested in recent years, and guarantee the security of the country while tensions are increasing in this theater. The plan proposed by American officials contains the deployment of American forces on the archipelago, as well as advanced equipment such as radars, drones and anti-aircraft defense systems. In addition, it provides for substantial aid to modernize the Philippine armies, in particular an envelope of $100m for the acquisition of medium maneuver helicopters. In total, up to 4 sites will be used by American forces on the archipelago, so as to deter China from any hostile maneuver, while assuring Manila of the full support of the United States in the country's territorial disputes. with Beijing over Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

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Philippine Air Force deploys 12 South Korean FA-50 Golden Eagle trainer and attack aircraft as sole fighter aviation fleet to date

But in the list of joint programs illustrating the new cooperation between Washington and Manila, there is also the acquisition of new combat aircraft, so as to once again provide the Philippine air force with a fighter capability. This program will be treated, according to Washington, in the coming weeks through Foreign Military Sales, so that the negotiations seem, indeed, well advanced on this subject. Obviously, such a changeover would be a very hard blow for Saab, for whom the Philippine competition represented one of the last chances to try to place its Gripen, while several users of the first generation of the fighter, such as the Czech Republic and Thailand, have announced that they want to turn to the F-35, and that the aircraft has experienced several setbacks in Europe in recent years against the F-16V and the Rafale.


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