In the descriptions concerning adaptability, developments in international security play a decisive role for Saab's operations. In terms of both the state's need for operational capability in fighter aircraft and the export opportunities this offers Sweden as a nation. There are, however, limitations as the market is restricted for many different reasons.
Moreover, Saab must adapt its operations to the rules that the state defines for pursuing the development and production of advanced military materiel and the specific customer requirements of an armed force.
This section describes Saab's adaptability to the major changes that have taken place in the realm of policies affecting national and international security and how this has influenced Sweden's military strategy and industry.
If you would like to read this entire text, it can be found in Security Policy Changes.
Over a number of years, Saab's operations have undergone great change that has entailed a realignment of the company's direction. For decades the company acted in a purely Swedish capacity, but has now switched to an international focus. Previously, the aim was to sell products to protect borders; this has now changed to offering products to protect flows. The company has also shifted from having a product focus to acting as a service provider focusing on providing operative solutions for customers.
In the mid-2000s, the strategic direction was altered following the identification of the market conditions presented below. These were:
The strategic direction required adaptability to new circumstances.
The Cold War was followed by a period of diffuse threats, with the growth of international terrorism and local hot spots and conflicts.
The direct military threat from the then Soviet Union ceased to exist, and the changes that swept across the globe were rapid and far-reaching. New international security scenarios combined with strained economies led to many governments reducing their defence budgets. Countries throughout the world reconsidered the focus of their defence policies, prioritising technically qualitative solutions. The developments seen in materiel procurement were similar across many countries, with reductions in quantities. There were, however, greater demands on performance when procuring new defence materiel, which resulted in increased costs.
In Sweden, the focus shifted to participating in international efforts within the EU and in various collaborations with NATO.
Advanced technology is key to success in the military market. A large share of the technical development seen in society has been driven by the development of military products. Participation in international collaborative projects in both civil and military industrial operations demands investments in cutting-edge technology.
Saab Aeronautics' endeavours in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles entailed heavy investments in cutting-edge technology. It enabled participation in the European development project Neuron.
Considerable investments in technical studies have been made on a continual basis in various research programmes. Many of these studies have been combined within the framework for different technology demonstrators in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Moreover, advanced technology and capability developments have been achieved in conjunction with the work on the Gripen Demo technology demonstrator.
Examples of technologies that have been focus areas include sensor technology, presentation systems for pilots, navigation, autonomous control, simulation and modelling, model-based systems development and model-based development in design and production techniques.
The development time for military aircraft was previously about 15 years; this has been altered drastically within Saab. This has been achieved with the introduction of new working procedures and new development and production methods, as well as a new approach to validating and verifying products during development work, all of which have enabled the development time to be halved. In the long run, this has meant significant investments in technical capability development and altered organisational capabilities, with new working procedures, methods and development and production systems.
The focus on both military and civil security has moved further up the value chain over the past 15 years. Development is moving towards larger system solutions and turnkey projects. This means that one supplier makes an extensive commitment, assuming the role of system integrator for both their own and others' systems. This is a consequence of altered cross-border and global security needs.
Demand has evolved to encompass broad, integrated solutions with rich service content. This has meant demand for complete undertakings for operation and function with a life-cycle approach.
Saab can be the supplier of a product or a system wherein a competitor assumes the role of integrator or operator, which requires new forms of business partnerships and collaborations. This entails a need for the capability to both cooperate and compete at the same time.
Market demand has developed towards new products with functions that have the operational capability to conduct both monitoring missions and combat missions or a combination of the two.
Faster technical developments have enabled the use of more advanced software for simulation, modelling and sensor development, as well as improved systems for training and support.
During the 2000s, development moved towards larger alliances in peacekeeping and welfare initiatives, which drove a more security-oriented demand for products.
However, priorities can soon shift back to more traditional defence techniques in conjunction with local conflicts that risk international escalation, which we have also seen over the past 7–8 years. Examples include Georgia in 2008, Libya in 2013, Ukraine in 2014 and, not least, the effects of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Africa since 2013.
Political developments can affect the military industry to a greater extent than most other industries.
Large development projects, both civilian and military, have started to be conducted with the participation of partners from both the public and private sectors in various configurations.
As a result, new requirements and new business models appear. This is seen primarily in the area of infrastructure, with the operation of large facilities and systems such as airports, sea ports, transshipment centres, railways, power systems and so on.
The so-called PPP solutions (public-private partnerships, also abbreviated 3P or P3) have attracted interest, as they have enabled new financing solutions. The introduction of PPP solutions most often entails a need to replace traditional business and governance models with new ideas, as regards both financing and operation. One example of a PPP solution in which Saab participates is the EU-backed research project Clean Sky, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in air transport. This is a breakthrough technology that will be used in future commercial airliners to reduce fuel consumption and environmental impact, which is one of the primary goals of the Clean Sky research project.
In tenders to states and government agencies, private enterprise, including Saab, offers to take over and run all or parts of the customer's infrastructure. Such major contracts specify functional requirements and the quality to be delivered at a certain cost.
Saab, for example, has a long-term contract with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding full responsibility for the SK 60 aircraft system for pilot training. In this instance, Saab is the principle supplier and is responsible for the operation, maintenance and upkeep of all SK 60 aircraft. This undertaking means that the system is airworthy and readily available for Swedish Air Force Wings in accordance with the Swedish Armed Forces' requirements.
Military and civil partnerships have become increasingly common between countries. The armed forces in the Nordic countries, for example, have expressed the ambition to increase their cooperation. Naturally, such changes have a direct impact on the industry.
Sales of large, complex solutions such as the Gripen system and associated products entail long and complex processes involving different types of stakeholders and agreements. A Gripen sale represents a major investment for the buyer of large sums of money over a long period of time, the consequence of which is that many different interests and stakeholders will be involved in drawing up the agreement.
The requirements for industrial cooperation concern far-reaching industry cooperation linked to defence contracts. Essentially all countries the world over demand industry cooperation, Sweden included, in conjunction with more extensive defence materiel acquisitions. The specific requirements in each case are often regulated in the procurement legislation of the concerned countries.
The aim of industrial cooperation is most often to strengthen industry development and production in the country. The supplier receives an undertaking to, in the client country, generate and support investments that create new exports. Moreover, it is important that the partnership includes research and development, as well as technology transfer, in order to generate competitiveness and create new business operations, and thereby new jobs.
These partnerships are often used to steer investments towards areas of national strategic importance. The long-term goal is for them to create growth in the economy and thereby strengthen the national budget. The value of these industrial partnerships can amount to 100 percent of the contract value or more. Saab has extensive experience of broad industry cooperation with Swedish and international companies.
Parallel to the development towards a more global society in which everyone has an interest in a functioning whole, there is a need for local presence. This applies to both military and civilian markets. The winners are globally active companies with strong local positions.
Customers demand integrated solutions from companies with keen awareness of both the international context and the specific circumstances of the local market. In order to increase the opportunities to be chosen as a business partner, and to also have development work partly financed by state funding, it is important to establish local operations.
Strong local positions are required to be a preferred supplier to customers and to have development work partly financed by defence budgets.
Customers in the military field are the country's armed forces. For Saab and the Gripen system, the creation of regional hubs on different continents is essential. It provides the opportunity for new aftermarket agreements and for offering customers access to maintenance and service. Based on an existing strong presence in its prioritised geographic markets, Saab is further strengthening its presence with the establishment of six market areas.
First, Sweden shifted from focusing solely on the Swedish defence capability to focusing on international participation together with other countries. Later, a more mixed approach was taken to Sweden's role, with strong territorial defence and participation in international missions.
Over the years, the Swedish state's defence budget has made a significant contribution to the accumulation of expertise at Saab. This has been achieved by the Swedish state being the largest and most significant customer, as both a development partner and a reference customer.
Dwindling Swedish defence budgets have required the development of new forms of financing to retain the technological advantage that has been key to maintaining a unique level of expertise over time.
In the future, there will be a need for customer financing for the development of major industry projects, which also demand the ability to establish strategic positions and partnerships in important markets.
This section describes Saab's adaptability to the major changes that have taken place in the realm of policies affecting national and international security and how this has influenced Sweden's military strategy and industry.
If you would like to read this entire text, it can be found in An Altered World.
The market for defence materiel is becoming increasingly international. On the one hand customers are now more open to alternatives from many different suppliers, on the other hand a great deal of development work is conducted in international partnerships with companies from different countries.
Saab's home markets, and the Swedish market in particular, are where much of the development work that results in new product generations takes place. Close collaboration with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration and the experience of being a system integrator for the Swedish Armed Forces are of great importance to Saab. The Swedish home market is, however, relatively small.
The Swedish government supports Saab's export initiatives
Participation in international crisis management efforts also places demands on Sweden's defence and on Swedish materiel functioning well in international contexts. Moreover, increased exports contribute to reduced costs for production series in Sweden. Accordingly, the Swedish government supports Saab's export initiatives.
Saab is affected by a number of external conditions and driving forces, which entail opportunities, threats and challenges. Development in Saab's markets is driven by changes in security needs and threats, in both the military sector and civil society.
These trends result in a need for the defence industry itself to finance an increasingly large share of research and development. Advanced cutting-edge technology is a prerequisite for participation in international industry projects in the field of defence.
Parallel to this, it is increasingly common for major operation and maintenance agreements in the military and civil spheres to involve both public and private actors in so-called PPP solutions (public-private partnership). Armed forces increasingly outsource entire training, operational and support activities. This development also increases demands training, support and maintenance.
Customers want integrated solutions from companies that are familiar with local circumstances. This considerably increases the opportunities to be the customer's preferred supplier and, not least, to receive some development work funding from the customer.
Securing continued cutting-edge expertise in critical technologies is also a powerful incentive for Saab. To a large degree, this involves allocating R&D resources to areas that have the potential for leading positions and, preferably, broad applications. Sweden's defence policy affects Saab's product development. Over the years, the Swedish state, via the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), has been behind a large share of Saab's product development.
The background to this was Sweden's policy of neutrality with a focus on defence against invasion, that is, maintaining large units with a relatively low state of preparedness. A domestic military industry ensured that Sweden had materiel in the event of blockades, while also having time to develop quality materiel as the need was not urgent. The armed forces could work with ten-year plans. Since the beginning of the 2000s, the situation is completely different; instead of neutrality, Sweden focuses on all forms of international cooperation.
Invasion defence has now been replaced by operational defence, that is, more or less qualified units that at short notice can be deployed to operations throughout the world and in cooperation with other nations.
Pursuing active product management is essential, and this entails making active choices about the areas in need of R&D investments. The starting point has been a focus on renewing and further developing products for the areas in which Saab has an internationally competitive standing.
Adapting to the altered circumstances resulting from the Swedish state's actions as regards its emphasis on operational defence has brought a number of areas into focus for Saab. Strategic choices have been made such as increased and altered cooperation with partners, investments in technology development and technology demonstrators and optimising operations.
Since the mid-2000s, Saab has worked with different optimisation programmes and one important outcome of this work is a more integrated company as regards goal orientation, priorities and processes.
The results of the cost reduction programme initiated in the mid-2000s have been established and institutionalised. They are now an integrated part of day-to-day operations.
The work with objectives is focused on four strategic areas which together provide a concentrated focus on activities in the following areas:
Product development is characterised by a strong strategic focus, and attaining the greatest possible efficiency is essential.
Altered customer behaviour, as regards both purchasing and the operational use of the products, demands new solutions that fulfil the requirements of many customers. An excellent way to realise this in practice is to cooperate with customers and different partners in order to develop different technology demonstrators which can demonstrate new technical solutions and increase customers' operational capability.
These are exemplified by the following technology demonstrators:
Technology demonstrators are a good way to develop expertise and strategic partnerships and to be able to implement practical tests of new product concepts in order to gain greater understanding of the needs of the Swedish Armed Forces and the most important international customers.
Owing to this, work with product management is important for focusing on and selecting the right areas for R&D investments. Moreover, modularising as much as possible enables product solutions to be reused.
The trend towards international cooperation and system integration demands open systems that can be coordinated and integrated operationally. One consequence of this is that an increasingly large share of development work takes place in partnerships. This contributes to the defence industry being less able to finance its development via national defence budgets.
It is also the case that shrinking national budgets no longer leave much room for research and development (R&D). Moreover, to an increasing extent armed forces the world over want access to the best the market has to offer, regardless of origin, and they want it delivered quickly. Consequently, an increasingly large share of research and development must be financed by the defence industry itself.
Despite the trend towards increased international cooperation, the need for a strong local presence is key to success in both the civilian and military markets. Customers want integrated solutions from companies that are familiar with local conditions and that can adapt their solutions accordingly. Consequently, it is important to establish operations locally and to accumulate local expertise and knowledge of the local situation to be successful.
This section briefly describes different types of initiatives and the limitations and restrictions that can exist in the market for military aircraft systems.
The market for military fighter aircraft systems demands adaptability. At the end of the 1990s, there was a growing need for surveillance in the social climate that evolved at that time. As a consequence, Saab decided to start working in a new market segment for unmanned aerial vehicles, for both civilian and military applications.
A driving force for this work was to develop new and innovative technology that could be used for existing products such as the Gripen, but also to develop new products for new markets. This could act as a complement to the Gripen, but also broaden the available opportunities and capabilities by combining the Gripen with unmanned vehicles. The goal was for Saab and Sweden to increase their opportunities for cooperating with other European countries and defence industries.
Another strategic direction for increasing volumes and securing technical capability was to start operations for developing and selling subsystems. Reaching out to the market proved difficult because of the different approach to procurement in the aircraft industry where all equipment was acquired separately with no precedent for acquiring entire subsystems.
Generating the necessary margins is difficult when you need to integrate other suppliers' equipment with a larger subsystem as the value added by the actual integration work is low in relation to the associated risks. As a result, profitability was unobtainable. The initiative ran during the period 2005–2008.
How, then, to assess the business and product offerings that circumstances offer? Each market has its own specific circumstances, and the military aircraft industry has the added dimension of defence policy, which is a highly influential factor in all major military procurement processes.
Accordingly, a few fundamental criteria must be considered. What critical factors affect the decisions of different types of customers? And how are preferences ranked? The table below provides examples of the considerations that must be taken into account in decisions concerning market positioning and product portfolio focus.
The table below presents a simplified assessment of different countries' capabilities, ambitions and defence budgets as a share of GDP. No exact figures are presented here, but simply orders of magnitude.
Most important preferences for different types of customers
Campaign work experience shows that the final decision-making process features a common ranking system, as shown below. Since politics comprise the most important criterion for decisions and since Sweden is a small country, our offers must be much stronger than those of our competitors in all other areas in order to balance up the overall assessment.
Important factors for success in campaign work that have enabled Saab to compete successfully include:
The Gripen product is a highly advanced product with a low life-cycle cost. The Gripen product offering also allows very competitive industrial cooperation as well as technique and technology transfer. This is a necessary but insufficient condition for winning contracts. Since our competitors have stronger international political influence, as a smaller industrial nation we must instead leverage the strengths that Swedish society has built up and refined for decades, namely the cooperation and agreement on which Swedish culture is based. Accordingly, close cooperation between industry, state agencies, the government and the armed forces is important in all export deals.
Important parties in these efforts within government and state agencies include the Prime Minister, the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) (until 2015), the customer – the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), the user – the Swedish Armed Forces, the Supreme Commander, the Swedish Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP), the Swedish National Export Credits Guarantee Board (EKN), the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (UD) and Swedish embassies. The aims must also be well established within the leading Swedish political parties.
In industry cooperation, Saab's owner Investor's full industrial and financial strength is required. Moreover, it is essential to work as closely as possible with suppliers and partners in order to leverage their strengths and structural influence.
As a leading nation in the military aircraft industry, the USA not only sells aircraft and entire aircraft weapons systems but also enjoys a great advantage from its political position as a world-leading military power. Consequently, the USA has not previously needed to invest as heavily in offering complete solutions with offsets or different financing alternatives such as leasing, technology transfer and industry cooperation.
For small countries that do not want to be locked into large investments but still need powerful armed forces, the leasing alternative is a great advantage in procurement processes. Saab showed that leasing was a successful financing alternative at FMV leasing business of the Gripen C/D to Hungary and the Czech Republic.
This chapter briefly describes how Saab turns regulatory requirements for building complex and advanced products into airworthy military vehicles.
If you would like to read this entire text, it can be found in Regulatory Requirements Ensure Effective Operations.
Sweden's military aviation authority has transferred full responsibility for the delivery of military products to industry, which required that Saab could meet new regulatory requirements while maintaining effective operations.
Sweden has a responsibility structure for aircraft weapons systems for military products. In the 1990s, this responsibility was transferred from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to Saab. This responsibility encompasses developing and demonstrating the safety – and thereby airworthiness – of military aerial vehicles. In the case of aircraft, more specifically the Gripen and SK60, Saab answers to the authority as regards safety.
Saab became a contractor in the military aviation system and was thereby accredited within this responsibility structure. Saab can now declare the airworthiness of aeroplanes and aircraft, for both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. Accreditation was provided by the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate.
In order to fulfil the regulatory requirements, the Rules for Military Aviation from the customer the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Military Aviation Safety Inspectorate, Saab must have documented its responsibility structure and expertise and received the necessary permits from the authorities.
Companies with permits to develop military products must be able to demonstrate how work is conducted and monitored to gain approval from the authorities.
This is achieved by Saab interpreting the military rules and establishing an operational management system with processes to be followed. Consequently, proof for the authorities that Saab works in a correct manner comprises Saab's operational management system, which all employees follow.
Saab's operational management system is comprehensive as regards how to develop and build aerial vehicles in a safe manner, which is an important aspect if the company is to be able to declare a product airworthy.
The operational management system governs and guides the company's employees by gathering external and internal requirements for operations and translating them into processes, methods, roles and so on. These processes and methods have been accepted by the authorities during the admission review, which is the occasion when Saab is approved and issued the necessary permits by the authorities. Thereafter, each year the authorities check that operations comply with the requirements and employ approved working procedures. Fundamental changes affecting working procedures must be approved by the authorities.
Saab has a number of different licenses, including business licenses for Design, Production, Aviation Service and Aviation Maintenance Service. These licenses are linked to several other activities that require licenses, such as Aviation Weather Service, Airports and Bases, as well as Air Traffic Control/Combat Command and Communication.
The Design area of operations has a designated Head of Design, and this role has ultimate responsibility for the fulfilment of all airworthiness requirements.
A design organisation is comprised of a number of roles in a hierarchy, with ultimate responsibility falling to the Chief Executive Officer of Saab AB – with responsibility then delegated on several levels. In practice, responsibility is divided between the head of the design organisation (Head of Design), the head of the office for airworthiness certificates and the head of the department for independent monitoring of systems for design review. Certain specific responsibilities also fall to personnel authorised to make decisions that affect airworthiness, as well as personnel who check and verify requirements concerning airworthiness. Central to the work with airworthiness matters is the monitoring of compliance with processes and methods for design assurance.
In practice, the Head of Design acts through another role designated Chief Engineer. A Chief Engineer is responsible for one or more products and participates in the different product development projects.
The Head of Design and, primarily, the Chief Engineer provide guidelines for airworthiness requirements for the product design. These two roles have a mandate to decide which requirements should apply to technical solutions in order to ensure fulfilment of the authority's requirements for an airworthy product.
The complex products built by Saab require a large number of technical disciplines. Saab has chosen to organise systems development work into 14 different technology areas, and each technology area has methods and tools adapted to this end.
In turn, each technology area is divided into responsibility structures, and for military products a so-called materiel group structure is used. This structure has been agreed upon with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.
The materiel group structure is divided into about 70 materiel groups in order to realise aircraft development, such as aerodynamics, navigation, radar and so on.
About 20 additional materiel groups are linked to other products that are included in the complete aircraft materiel system, such as external loads, training systems and planning and evaluation systems.
In order to ensure effective operations and to build advanced and safe products, development evolves in a number of steps of increasing maturity. Fundamentally, product development work can be described as a growing maturity of the systems comprising the product. This maturity grows gradually, passing through various stages until we are able to verify and validate that all agreed requirements have been met.
Gradual maturity is essential in development work if we are to ensure and improve the structure in the chosen design, as well as in the system and product architectures.
The groundwork for creating favourable maturity involves defining goals, establishing strategies, and measuring the growth and maturity of product results.
Success requires a clear breakdown into manageable sub-steps, goal-oriented sub-step management, follow-ups and requirement amendments, as well as continual development within all technology areas.
Maturity in product development encompasses many different stages in both the work and maturity, with different types of reviews that are essential to assessing maturity. Maturity can be divided into the following ten steps:
Step 1 Fundamental design – where both working procedures and the product architecture are complete. Moreover, the project form, development and quality plans, processes, methods and tools are defined.
Step 2 Production start – to build the product. This requires that the structure and system architecture for the aircraft and construction documents are complete, as well as all component definitions. Construction entails commencement of system work and actual production of the aircraft. The tactical ability to operate the aircraft must also be defined.
Step 3 Test worthiness – the basis for testing with test-worthy simulators, which is required to verify and validate a complete aircraft. This requires that simulation capacity has been defined and developed and is fully functional, with the simulation of functions, flight characteristics and tactical ability.
Step 4 Flight safety check – comprises the basis for ensuring function and characteristics with a flight safety check prior to flying in a simulator. Verification is conducted to ensure that all functions in the aircraft are in airworthy condition.
Step 5 First flight – confirmation that the development work has progressed sufficiently for approval from all of the roles that are responsible for the airworthiness process and flight testing permit.
Step 6 Fundamental flight and combat command capability – means that the aircraft's fundamental capability is complete. Fundamental capability means that missions can be planned, human-machine interfaces are complete and all functions for navigation and communication are complete. Fundamental capability also includes systems for radar, countermeasures and all sensor functionality, as well as systems for communication between aircraft.
Step 7 Tactical ability – means that the tactical ability has been developed in several sub-steps. Examples of tactical abilities are fighter, attack and reconnaissance.
Step 8 Customer delivery – means that all system tests for complete functionality and capacity have been completed and the customer can manage the tactical loop.
Step 9 Unit introduction – means that the product is commissioned by the user, which is the Swedish Armed Forces.
Step 10 Feedback from customers and users – means that feedback loops, service and updates from customers and users have been processed. During the minimum of thirty years that an aircraft materiel system is expected to be used, service, updates and adaptations for new technical solutions regularly take place.
Conducting advanced product development requires technical managers with great expertise to lead the development work. The appointed technical managers have great technical expertise and very good verbal communication skills, for imparting both instructions and experience-based knowledge. The technical managers are also responsible for developing the entire technical organisation's capability via their leadership and participation in the forums that make important technical decisions.
The development of aerial military vehicles is a very advanced industrial operation that requires engineering skills that are of a very high level and continually developed. In order to achieve this in practice, Saab works with a skills ladder and all engineers are somewhere on this ladder.
Saab has invested heavily in training and development opportunities, offering both breadth and depth. A special training and job rotation programme has been established in development operations and is known as the Broad Engineer Programme.
Developing aircraft weapons systems spanning 14 technology areas and maintaining the necessary expertise throughout the product's life cycle demands extensive knowledge and experience.
Systems development is part of maturity and is conducted in accordance with an internationally accepted model called the V-model, which ensures that all requirements are managed, verified and validated to produce a product approved for delivery.
When developing highly complex products, which additionally involves the participation of many engineers, it is appropriate to use a model to describe how the work is to be conducted.
This model is used to ensure that all customer requirements are adopted and that they have been implemented and fulfilled. In this model, the requirements that have been defined together with the customer can be managed throughout the entire value stream encompassed by the development work. Requirements can also stem from concept studies conducted without customer participation.
This way of describing development work ensures that the requirements have been broken down into different levels, so that they are easily realised.