Can Sweden rejoin the FCAS program after leaving the UK GCAP?

The Swedish authorities have confirmed the country's definitive withdrawal from the GCAP program, to conduct a reflection supported by several studies until 2031, and arbitration regarding the potential development of a successor to the JAS 39 Gripen.

But Swedish cooperation with France, within the framework of the FCAS program, to develop a high-performance single-engine fighter, would open up many opportunities.

In July 2019, one year later the presentation of the 6th generation Tempest fighter and its FCAS program by BAe, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce and MBDA during the Farnbourouh 2018 show, Stockholm had announced to join the British program. It was then the first rally obtained by London, against the Franco-German FCAS.

The minimum rapprochement between Sweden and the British FCAS Tempest program in 2019

For Saab and the Swedish authorities, this merger aimed to study convergences in terms of technological bricks, within the framework of its own new generation fighter program intended to replace, beyond 2040, the JAS 39 Gripen E/F which was still in prototype stage at that time.

The arrival of Stockholm was presented by London as a huge success, breaking its isolation at the time when Spain was already knocking on the door of the Franco-German FCAS. For Sweden, on the other hand, the ambitions were much more measured, with an investment plan of barely €60 million, to finance a research center in Great Britain.

Since then, the FCAS program has been profoundly transformed, with the successive arrival of Italy then Japan, making it the exact counterpart of the FCAS which now brings together, in addition to France and Germany, Spain as a partner of full rights, and Belgium, with observer status.

FCAS Tempest Farnbourouh 2018
The Tempest and its program, called FCAS, were the stars of the 2018 Farnbourouh Air Show

Sweden, for its part, took a certain distance from FCAS, which has since become Global Combat Air Program or GCAP, to withdraw from the incentive a year ago/ It finally withdrew definitively today, as confirmed by a Swedish official during the Chatham House meetings Rules at the International Fighter Conference, which took place in Madrid a few days ago.

A deadline of 2031 set by Stockholm to arbitrate on the potential successor to the JAS 39 Gripen

For the Swedish authorities, it is now necessary to take the time to evaluate their options, until 2031 and the launch of the program which will develop the potential successor to the Gripen, or not. In the meantime, technical and operational studies will be carried out to supervise this future program.

Without this being openly announced, we understand, half-heartedly, that Stockholm is questioning the relevance of once again developing an autonomous fighter, assuming significant costs and constraints, particularly now that the country is preparing to join NATO, and is no longer obliged, as previously, by its neutrality.

Furthermore, it is likely that the Finnish, Norwegian, but also Czech decisions to turn away from the Gripen E in favor of the American F-35A, weigh heavily in the reflections carried out in the country, which no longer, strictly speaking, speak, the role that was his in Scandinavia during the Cold War.


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