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Hungary upgrading its Gripen fleet to MS20 Block 2 standard

Hungarian Gripen fighter
Photo: Saab

Hungary’s government office for defense procurement and its Swedish counterpart (FMV) have completed the negotiations for the upgrade of Hungarian Air Force Gripen fighters to the MS20 Block 2 standard.

The MS20 Block 2 upgrade brings a number of improvements, including increased combat and communication capabilities, as well as access to a wide range of weapons that can be integrated on the fighters.

Sensor capability is being enhanced by a radar upgrade to the PS-05/A Mk 4 which means that the air-to-air target tracking range as well as the performance increases significantly. This allows better detection capability of small air- to-air targets, improved clutter suppression, and brings growth potential for further developments in the air-to air and air-to-ground modes.

The MS20 Block 2 upgrade for Hungary’s Gripen fleet also enhances the communication capabilities by enhancing Link16 (NATO Data link) functionality and updated voice communication to the latest NATO secure communication standard. Capability to identify coalition aircrafts will be also improved by introducing the latest Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) NATO Mode 5.

This upgrade will allow Hungary to choose from a wider selection of weapons to fit to their Gripens: IRIS-T – infrared Within Visual Range (WVR) Air to Air missile, GBU-49 – modern Air to Ground laser guided bomb and Meteor – an advanced, long-range, radar-guided, BVRAAM that is superior to other missiles of its type.

Late last year, German missile maker Diehl revealed its IRIS-T missile had been chosen by the Hungarian Armed Forces as their first choice of short-range air-to-air missile. With the order, Hungary became the 12th user nation for the missile that can engage airborne as well as surface-to-air threats.

“Thanks to the modernisation of the Hungarian Gripen aircraft, the operational capabilities of the Hungarian Air Force will be significantly increased. Our staff has appreciated a close and fruitful cooperation with the Swedish side on this specific modernization project as well as the cooperation during the 15 years that we have operated Gripen aircraft,” says Major General Nandor Kilian, HDF Air Force Inspector.

“During this period of 15 years since first Gripen landed at Kecskemet Air Base, it is clear that the Hungarian Air Force has taken the step to be one of the premiere air forces in Europe and is a real contributor to NATO and EU operations. With these changes introduced by MS20 Block 2 upgrade, Hungary will get an even more efficient and powerful aircraft, capable of competing in every respect with any other next generation fighter aircraft,” says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab business area Aeronautics.