BANGKOK --- As Malaysia listed the Swedish-made Gripen multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) as one of its possible choices for its new generation fighter jets, Saab, the manufacturer of the aircraft, is harping on its long-term cost effectiveness.
Saab media relations manager Peter Liander said the cost of the whole life cycle of its MRCA in terms of maintenance, operations and flying was more effective as compared to other MRCA of its class.
"Generally, potential buyers should not just look at the buying price only, but also the cost for its whole life cycle," he told Bernama at the Defense and Security 2012 exhibition here.
Malaysia is considering replacing its ageing 10 Russian-made MiG-29 aircraft of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) as the service period of the fighter jet had ended and needed to be replaced.
Apart from Gripen, others such as European-made Eurofighter Typhoon, American-made FA-18 Super Hornet and Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 were reported to be under the Malaysian Defence Ministry's radar for consideration, too.
Previously, Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zahid Hamidi had mentioned that the purchase of the new fighter jet would depend on the government's financial capability.
Without disclosing the price of Gripen as it depends on the specification needs of the respective country, Liander said the company had succeeded in producing fighter jets with high performance at low cost.
Gripen is currently in the inventory of air forces of Sweden, South Africa, Hungary, Czech Republic and Thailand, as well as a test pilot school in the United Kingdom.
"Generally, they get what they need at competitive prices," said Liander.
Apart from Gripen, he said, Saab also provided a complete air defence package such as airborne early warning system and a dedicated command and control system, together with the fighter jet.
As Gripen had made its debut in this region through the procurement of the new generation fighter jets by Thailand, the company was eyeing to further spread its wings in this region.
"Thailand could be an important reference on Gripen in this region as the country took delivery of six aircrafts early last year, and another six next year," said Liander.
According to defence industry record, Asean's 10 south east Asian nations defence procurement totalled about US$25 billion (about RM75 billion) annually.
On the Thailand front, Liander said, the company was in partnership with a local manufacturer to produce data link systems as part of its technology transfer programme.