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SAAB Announces ‘Intent’ To Broaden US Presence IF They Win T-X

Posted by Colin Clark on

Boeing Defense CEO Leanne Caret and SAAB CEO Hakan Bushke at AFA 2017

AFA: SAAB, the Swedish maker of the Gripen fighter and aspiring partner of Boeing in building the Air Force’s new trainer, says it will establish a US factory should their team win the T-X contract.

Hakan Bushke, SAAB CEO, stood with Boeing Defense CEO Leanne Caret to make the announcement here framed by a full-scale model of the Boeing offering, known as the Boeing T-X. The next step is to decide where will do this and with which partner, Bushke said. The company sees three ways to approach this: the traditional approach of building a new dedicated manufacturing facility; working with a US-based supplier; buying an existing manufacturing plant.

SAAB Gripens

“Finally, the choice would be made based on what is best for the program,” he said. In practice, that means building in a state that doesn’t like unions and that has at least lawmaker on the Senate Appropriations Committee and a few members of the House Armed Services Committee, give or take. That will be particularly important for a program that, while it declares itself American, and is by law American since Boeing is the prime, has a Swedish company as a major partner. While Sweden provided many of its sons and daughters to populate the United States, it is not a NATO member and is, yes, a foreign country. (We’re sure no one at Northrop Grumman is muttering about former Rep. Norm Dicks and his notorious excoriations of their company for working with foreigners on the tanker deal…)

To nip such talk in the bud, Boeing Defense CEO Leanne Caret said more than 90 percent of Boeing T-X would be American, an intentionally vague standard that could mean it only applies to the airframe or might apply to the airframe and major mission systems or…. I’m sure we won’t find out much until after the first protest is filed.

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