Johan’s immediate tasks are clear. “Our priority is the successful introduction of new aircraft in the Czech Republic, then Hungary and South Africa. We will continue to meet our customers’ expectations and make Gripen work for their air forces. With that secured, we will look for new business and new markets.”
“When Gripen started out in the export market our expectation was to win perhaps one in five of the possible contracts out there. So far we have won almost 50% of the competitions we have entered. It’s fair to say that we would like more countries’ procurement efforts to have moved further along – but as time goes by our so-called competitors get even older and more difficult to support while the ‘future fighters’ get later and more expensive.”
“Increasingly Gripen International is concentrating on what Gripen will look like 15 years from now. We have already the most advanced fighter on the market today but we intend to be in that market for at least another 15 to 20 years. We are prepared to invest in Gripens future development together with the Swedish government who will continue to support Gripen which remains one of the most important national high technology systems.”
“I hope we will see a Gripen Users Club for all our operators to come together on an air force-to-air force basis to discuss and agree how they want to move the aircraft forward – how they want to design and implement upgrades. Gripen International will become a bridge between the Swedish customer and all our other operators, bringing them together to trade experiences, to learn from each other and to move forward together.”
Johan Lehander is the new Managing Director of Gripen International and therefore the boss of the entire Gripen export program. He took over in April 2005, succeeding Ian McNamee who has now joined the management team of Saab AB. Johan is no stranger to Gripen or to Sweden’s proud heritage of fighter aircraft.
He joined the company some 20 years ago as a systems engineer on the J 37 Viggen, specialising in weapons integration. During the 1990s he worked on Gripen’s avionics systems and was later appointed Program Manager for the entry into service of Sweden’s first aircraft. At Gripen International Johan brings an unrivalled knowledge of the entire Gripen program to the worldwide arena.