Saab markets its Gripen fighter jet with the tagline: “It’s a human right to feel safe”

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Stockholm-based aircraft manufacturer Saab is one of the transnational corporations bidding to sell 88 new fighter jets to Canada.

Saab is marketing its Gripen fighter jet to Canada and other countries in various ways.

Its latest spin: “It’s a human right to feel safe.”

It is an audacious claim given fighter jets have been involved in violations of human rights including: the bombing of a migrant detention centre in Libya killing 53 people in July 2019, the bombing of a school bus in Yemen killing 40 children and 11 adults in August 2018, and the bombing of electricity infrastructure in Iraq that resulted in the severe deprivation of clean drinking water and an outbreak of cholera.

The short narrative film Air Show also gives a sense of the trauma experience by a refugee seeing fighter jets in the skies over their home in Toronto.

The Gripen E, the fighter jet that Canada could buy, has destructive capabilities that are hard to reconcile with the imperative of a human right.

Airforce Technology has highlighted: “The air-to-air missiles on the Gripen E include infrared-guided short-range IRIS-T missile, and the Meteor missile… The aircraft also has the flexibility to be fitted with Sidewinder and A-Darter missiles…”

“The Gripen E can also be integrated with a number of air-to-surface weapons including unguided Mk82, Mk83 and Mk84 bombs, laser-guided bombs such as GBU-12, GBU-16 and GBU-10, and advanced bombs such as GBU-49 and GBU-39.”

That article also notes: “The aircraft features a 27mm all-purpose Mauser BK27 high velocity gun providing both air-to-air and air-to-surface attack capability.”

While much can be said about all these weapons, let us look at just one of the air-to-surface weapons listed above: the Mk82 bomb.

The Characterisation of Explosive Weapons Project (CEW) says: “In 2016, various configurations of the Mk 82 have been used in a number of countries and territories, including Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.”

In describing its “lethal effects”, that research group further notes: “A standard Mk 82 bomb body produces a lethal area of approximately 80 m (across) by 30 m (along), giving a lethal area of approximately 2,400 m2.”

The countries that currently have Gripen fighter jets include Sweden, Hungary, Thailand, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. The Gripen was deployed by the Swedish Air Force in Libya where Saab says it flew 650 combat missions between April to October 2011.

And along with Canada, potential purchasers of the airplane include Colombia, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The Canadian government is currently evaluating three bids for a new fighter jet and is expected to make its decision late this year or early next year.

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