The Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF’s) Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering (DAE) has awarded a contract for the upgrade of the service’s 11 Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D multirole combat aircraft to the latest MS20 standard, reported Janes magazine.
The $20.84 million contract, which dates back to around mid-January, was signed with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, according to documents published by the RTAF.
The requirement for the MS20 upgrade was first stated in November 2018 by Group Captain Prachya Tippayarat, from the RTAF’s Wing 7 at Surat Thani Air Force Base, in an interview with Janes . However, no details were provided at the time as to when the upgrade would take place.
The requirement was reiterated in the RTAF’s 2020 White Paper, with an envisaged start date in 2021, although no information has been provided about when the upgrade work is set to be completed.
According to Saab, the MS20 upgrade, which involves hardware and software upgrades, is designed to enhance the Gripens’ ability to engage ground targets by incorporating unguided and laser-guided bombs into the aircraft’s payload inventory.
The platform’s air-to-air capability is also set to be enhanced by the introduction of new radar modes. The MS20 standard, which offers an optional ground collision avoidance system (GCAS), will additionally enable the aircraft to fire MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM).
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