Sweden can build a next generation fighter jet but Canada?

Defence Watch recently noted that Saab’s Gripen E, the next generation of that fighter jet, made its first flight on June 15. That is a major development for the plane. Deliveries are set for 2019.

Sweden and Brazil have purchased the Gripen E.

Sixty E models will be acquired by Sweden’s Air Force, while Brazil is buying 36 jets, including eight of the twin-seat F versions.

Ever since that item was published, I had been receiving the occasional email from some readers wondering why a country of Canada’s standing in the global aerospace industry (5th largest) can’t design and manufacture its own advanced fighter jet?

“How can Sweden with a population of fewer than 10 million people manage to design, build and sell a world-class fighter jet while Canada cannot?,” asked one reader.

An interesting question for sure.


Photo above: Gripen E in flight. Photo courtesy of Saab.

Source: Ottawa Citizen.

4 thoughts on “Sweden can build a next generation fighter jet but Canada?”

    1. Canada has tried it in the past with the AVRO CF.105 Arrow, but the socialist government at the time cancelled it. The Liberal government under Trudeau are even less likely to develop an indigenous aircraft due to the high costs involved. Commonality with the USA and NATO has always been the by-word for Canada, whereas Sweden has always pursued a neutral position, thus cooperating with friendly nations, without permanently tying them into organisations like NATO. This looks set to change soon as even Sweden realises that the safety of a ‘block’ of nations is preferable than going it alone.

  1. Part of it is that the aircraft manufacturing companies in Canada don’t really have their interests in military contracts, or so it seems.

    Bombardier is riding high in both the corporate and short haul sectors, so there really would be no reason for them to give a shred of factory floor space for a fighter design. Not on the surface of things at least.

    Comparing Canada and Sweden is a stilted thing at best from a political point of view. Sweden is slowly coming out of decades of neutrality and non-alignment while Canada was a founding member of NATO in 1949 and has remained steadfastly in it up to today.

    Sweden has always taken great pride in self reliance when it comes to matters of defense, while Canada has always been part of a bigger team.

    On a more cynical side, I would also say that the prevailing point of view Canadians have had about the shape and abilities of the nation’s aviation industry over the past 50 years or so has been far too coloured by the cancellation of the Avro Arrow and all the myths and misconceptions that have been allowed to form about that debacle over the years. One of those myths is that the cancellation of the Arrow was also the death of the nation’s aviation industry as a whole.

    While that event certainly did change the face of Canada’s aviation industry, the only thing that “Died” with the Arrow was Avro Canada. Too many Canadians have believed for far too long that Canada lost more than it actually did when the Arrow was scrapped. Unfortunately, successive federal governments and influential parties in the nation’s aviation industry have not seen fit to prove that belief unfounded over the ensuing years.

    1. Thanks Kevan, I concur. Sweden is now courting NATO as an isolationist strategy is becoming far less attractive with (a somewhat perceived) threat from Russia, hence the militarisation of Gotland and the re-introduction of shore-based anti-ship missiles around Sweden’s coastline.

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