Hungary will soon operate improved Gripen fighter jets similar to those used by the Swedish Air Force, following the modernization of its leased aircraft to the latest version MS20 Block 2 version. This upgrade brings several improvements in sensors, weapons, and avionics. The Swedish Air Force first introduced this upgrade in 2016.

The radar is upgraded to the PS-05/A Mk 4 version, extending the target acquisition range, particularly at low altitudes. This allows better detection capability of small air-to-air targets and improved clutter suppression. It also enhances the performance of air-to-ground synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode. The new version provides growth potential for further developments in the air-to-air and air-to-ground modes, as SAAB has been working on AESA technology for this radar.

The MS20 Block 2 upgrade for the HunAF Gripen fleet also enhances the communication capabilities by enhancing Link16 (NATO Datalink) functionality and updating voice communication to the latest NATO secure communication standard. Ability to identify coalition aircraft will also be improved by introducing the latest Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) NATO Mode 5.

Hungary operates 14 Gripen C/D fighter jets leased from Sweden. Photo: Saab

Saab announced today that the Hungarian Government Commissioner Office responsible for defense development and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) had completed the negotiations for the MS20 Block 2 capability upgrade to the Hungarian fleet of Gripen fighter aircraft.

The upgrade will allow Hungary to choose from a wider selection of weapons to fit their Gripens: IRIS-T – infrared Within Visual Range (WVR) Air to Air missile and Meteor – advanced, beyond visual range radar-guided missile (BVRAAM), GBU-49 – dual-mode (GPS/SAL) air to ground laser-guided bombs and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs, to name just a few.

After Sweden and the Czech Republic, Hungary was the third nation to start operating Gripen C/D. The first Gripen lease contract was signed between the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) and the Hungarian Ministry of Defence in February 2003 to supply 14 Gripen C/D fighters (12 single-seater and two two-seater aircraft). Hungary extended the lease in 2012 with a ten-year contract and is now extending it until 2026. The extension required the Swedish Defense Material Command (FMV) to upgrade the HunAF Gripens to the MS20 version, clearing to add more flight hours (from 16000 to 20,000).