Austria prepares to say goodbye to Saab 105

Austria goodbye retirement Saab 105
Austrian Air Force Saab 105 training and light combat jet.

Austria is preparing to say goodbye to its nearly 50-year-old Saab 105 aircraft that will be grounded at the end of the year. On 26 November 2020, two Saab 105 jets flew low over parts of Austria, including Salzburg and Graz, to symbolically greet the nation and make one last photo shoot. During their farewell tour, the two planes also headed to Kolomansberg to greet the radar specialists who operate the air surveillance station located in the area, before returning to their home base in Hörsching near Linz.

Starting next year, the nation will only have to rely on its 15 Eurofighters for air defense as Vienna has not yet made any decisions on replacing the Swedish-made light jet.

Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said last summer that they would not consider a replacement for the Saab before the end of the dispute with Airbus about the alleged fraud in the Eurofighter affair.

However, a few days ago the Austrian media reported that the OLG - Oberlandesgerichtes Wien (Vienna Higher Regional Court) took the decision to close the case as prosecutors did not submit enough evidence to support their thesis.

It's hard now to predict the nation's next steps, but considering the trudging of the defense to cover the operational costs of the Typhoon, we expect Vienna to consider introducing a cheaper aircraft soon. The most favorable choice is towards a ready-to-use jet, so the Leonardo's M-345 and M-346 aircraft could represent the best option.

Just a few weeks ago an industrial cooperation letter was signed between the ministers of Italy and Austria. On 12 November 2020, Italian Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini and Austrian Minister of Defense Klaudia Tanner signed a letter of intent for the launch of a cooperation program in the helicopter procurement sector. Austria is planning to acquire LUH (Light Utility Helicopter) type helicopters from Italy. This cooperation agreement could in the future expand and include Italian jets.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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