Austria details next steps on airspace surveillance, Saab 105 replacement

Austria news air defense
According to a defense report, Austrian Eurofighters will not be sold, they will continue to secure national airspace.

During a conference held in Vienna on 6 July 2020, Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner spoke about the future of the nation's air defense and the withdrawal of the Saab 105 jet trainer. She said that over the past three years three different committees have analyzed the next steps to be taken regarding airspace surveillance.

Analyzes say that the current austrian two-fleet system (Eurofighter + Saab 105) can ensure around 10 hours of operational readiness per day for airspace surveillance, with 94% covered by Eurofighter and 6% by Saab 105. This data highlights how the current system should be strengthened and how Eurofighters can cover the service without support.

However, reports disagree on the way forward. Two recommend switching to a single fleet system, while the third recommends purchasing a second fleet to support the Eurofighter and for training.

According to the Defense, no decision on the replacement of the jet trainer will be made until the ongoing legal dispute over the alleged fraud in the Eurofighter order is resolved.

In the meantime, the following key points will be ensured:

1. The Saab 105 will be "phased out" due to the end of its technical life (presumably end of 2020) and will not be replaced.

2. Measures are taken to continue to ensure airspace surveillance and pilot training.

3. A broad discussion process at parliamentary level is started to explore the options for the period after the Eurofighter procedure has been completed.

Chief of Staff Robert Brieger said: "In order to secure Austrian airspace for the next ten years, we have to train one or two pilots a year. It is neither militarily necessary, nor cost-effective, to purchase a second system. Pilots and personnel deployed on the Saab 105 OE are urgently needed for other air fleets of the Armed Forces. In future, the training will also take place abroad, as in the past."

Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said: "Today all of our decisions are based on expert opinions, including those from the General Staff. It is our responsibility to protect airspace in a cost-effective and adequate manner. We will do that. It is clear that we not do anything that weakens our position towards Eurofighter/Airbus."

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source: Austrian Ministry of Defence

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