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Whatif, Viggen sale to India was approved

helmutkohl

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In the 70s, India worked hard to acquire the Viggen, which was ultimately blocked by the US, due to distrust of India's relations with the USSR. In the end India went with the UK-French SPACECAT Jaguar.

Lets say in this alternative history, the US did not block the sale, and it went through, with deliveries probably starting around 1979 and into the 80s. How would it affect the following

  • Would it help Viggen sales elsewhere, now that Saab secured a major order in India? and if so, who would likely buy it? (other Jaguar users include Nigeria, Oman, and Colombia)
  • How would it perform in the future conflicts India was involved in from the 80s and beyond? compared to the Mirage? the Jaguar?
  • How would it affect India's other acquisitions? would they still have bought the Mirage 2000? or MiG-27s? Would experience with SAAB make them more interested in the Gripen later on?
  • Would the Viggen still be in service today?
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Archibald

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The Viggen was an awesome aircraft which export potential was screwed by the JT8D.
I often think it screamed for either the F-4K Spey or its US variant the Allison TF41 that went into the A-7 Corsair II. Note that right from 1967 Allison and RR ran a 30 000 pounds thrust A.B TF41 and proposed it for the next twenty years as alternative to the TF30 and F401 (USN) and F100 & F110 (USAF through the A-7D and A-7F) with exactly zero success: the F401, F100, F110 were a generation younger and thus TF41 stood no chance.
Sweden had a superb airframe but the wrong engine.
Great Britain had the right engine (Spey) but no airframe or an ill-suited US one (Phantom).
Shame these two couldn't meet.
What is really infuriating in all this is that very early sketches of the Viggen (1959-62) actually showed a Medway: which is very much the Spey larger father and was discontinued for all the wrong reasons.

Including a very stupid downscaling of the Trident that ensured it would be steamrolled by the very similar but larger growth potential Boeing 727 (facepalm - note it was BOAC which requested the Trident downsizing which also mean the Medway was downscaled into the Spey: a criminally stupid move at so many levels !)
 

southwestforests

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  • Would experience with SAAB make them more interested in the Gripen later on?
  • Would the Viggen still be in service today?
Would expect the experience, assuming it positive, would have them more interested in Gripen.
My personal expectation is that Viggen would have been retired with reasons being publicly given as age and maintenance costs.
with the full scope of retirement reasons also including a "get the new toy" aspect.

Indian Gripen sounds like a plan to me.

Indian Gripen also appears to sound like a plan to SAAB, https://www.saab.com/markets/india/gripen-india-blog
 

apparition13

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I think Viggen would still be in service; I suspect they would have purchased some of the Viggens the Swedes retired as well. India has had trouble replacing aircraft, which is why their Jaguars are still around and modernized. On the wouldn't have happened but I'd really like to have seen it front: a fully upgraded JA based Viggen strike-fighter with an F119 (or maybe even F135) engine.

If they got the Viggen, I think the Gripen, especially as a MiG-21 replacement, would be a sure thing. It would definitely have helped alleviate the above mentioned replacement problem. There also would have been local production, and perhaps Sea Gripen as well, since both India and Brasil would be interested.

Mirage is interesting. It seems to me to have been something of a panic buy when Pakistan got F-16s, but the MiG-29 was the better counter, and the 2000s have been used as attack aircraft, which would have been redundant with Viggens in the inventory.

Which is also why I don't think the MiG-27 would have been ordered if the Viggen had been around. More Viggens would have made more sense for additional attack assets. With HAL producing them, there could have potentially been more Viggens in India than Sweden.
 

CV12Hornet

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Would it help Viggen sales elsewhere, now that Saab secured a major order in India? and if so, who would likely buy it? (other Jaguar users include Nigeria, Oman, and Colombia)
Wouldn't help the 1975 Eurofighter order, the F-16 is a very clear superior option. The offer to Norway predates the POD, so that's out. Nigeria and Oman can't afford fast jets as sophisticated as the Viggen, not in this timeframe; Nigeria had to ditch their Jaguars as an economy measure in 1991, for goodness' sake. Similarly, the only reason Ecuador has any fast jets is because they were able to get them second-hand at a bargain price from South Africa.

How would it perform in the future conflicts India was involved in from the 80s and beyond? compared to the Mirage? the Jaguar?
They'd perform well, but the conflicts India has been in in the last 40 years have been pretty limited, so it wouldn't make overmuch difference.

How would it affect India's other acquisitions? would they still have bought the Mirage 2000? or MiG-27s? Would experience with SAAB make them more interested in the Gripen later on?
I doubt the Indians would buy the MiG-23 and MiG-27 in this scenario. The two aircraft are redundant with the Viggen under license construction. And Indian pilots seem to have been never very enamored with the latter, considering it unreliable with a high accident rate.

It would not affect the Mirage 2000/MiG-29 order, as that was an emergency buy to match Pakistani F-16s. And good as the JA Viggen is, it's not really a match for the F-16.

Would the Viggen still be in service today?
100%. The Jaguars still are, and the last MiG-27s were only retired in 2019. Sweden kept updating the airframe into the late 1990s; similarly, the Indians initiated a very comprehensive modernization of the MiG-27Ms in 1999. With Sweden retiring the type in 2005 the Indians can also get their hands on second-hand airframes as parts hulks and attrition replacements.

I do think this increases the likelihood of the Gripen entering service, but that needs the Indians to better handle the MMRCA program that would've handled the buy. It was just hideously mismanaged from the start. They needed to just make a firm commitment to one aircraft and not bother with the multibid tender process; IOTL that was the Mirage 2000 and here it's likely to be the Gripen.
 

zen

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Viggen engine.
Well Olympus or Medway was the two options. Cancellation of TSR.2 killed this and they reached for the JT8D.

The irony is that later on a straight through Pegasus variant was looked at and it offered faster response, lower s.f.c figures and weighed less.

I say irony because there was a straight through option for this earlier on.

Oddly no straight through BS.100 though......
 

uk 75

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You could even speculate on a UK engined Viggen for the RAF instead of 1154 and Jaguar. Licence built it could then be sold to India, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
NATO might then have taken UK built Viggens for the Belgian, Danish, Dutch and Norwegian AFs. Viggens for Canadian Forces in Germany and allocated to Norway would then also make sense. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey come in later. Austria, Czech and Polish AFs get them in the 90s.
A UK built Viggen would require some political flexibility in Stockholm, perhaps prompted by earlier Soviet incursions in Swedish waters and airspace.
Viggen would have given Hawker Siddeley or BAC an option to replace Hunters and Javelins without the F4 purchase. This becomes even more attractive if the RN decides to scrap carriers in 1964 and help the RAF develop the P1127. Viggens instead of Phantoms.
Now how about Gripens instead of Typhoons in the 90s.
 
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