Sweden has a long aeronautical history with a military capability, which is unique for such a small country. This fact largely depends on the political neutrality during the wars and continued strong defence spending up to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.


Behind this success, close R&TD collaboration between users, industry, academia and agencies as well as an integrated civil-military aeronautics research community are important contributing factors. International cooperation has always been a strong element, and over the past 30 years Swedish aeronautics has been strongly involved in European R&TD programmes.

Watch the history in  A Saab Story
Watch several of the airplanes noted above at a flying display in 2012 by  Swedish Airforce Historic Flight.
Watch Saab J35 Draken trainers doing the Swedish Cobra Maneuver on this  J35 LINK.
Watch Saab AJS-37 Viggen thrust reverser landing and short take off on this  AJS 37 LINK.

Today the Swedish aerospace sector employs over 14000 people and has a turnover of more than 2.6 billion Euro per year with an export share of some 70%. The main companies in aeronautics are Saab AB and GKN Aerospace Sweden AB (formerly Volvo Aero).

Saab AB, Aeronautics, Linköping, Sweden. More on:
Saab is well known for the development of many generations of military aircraft, as noted above. Saab Aeronautics today offers advanced airborne systems, related subsystems, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), aerostructures, and services to defence customers and commercial aerospace industries worldwide. Saab Aeronautics is responsible for the development, production, and support of the Gripen fighter, which is being operated by several air forces: Swedish, Czech, Hungarian, South African and Thai.
Gripen has recently been further developed into what effectively becomes a new generation multi-role fighter aircraft. This new version, Gripen E/F, which  is also purchased by the Brazilian Air Force, has a new engine, new AESA radar, new avionics, and more advanced EW capabilities. The aircraft also has longer range and can carry more weapons than previous versions. Watch a short video: Gripen – The smart fighterThe export of this aircraft leads to a long-term relation between Brazil and Sweden, within the Air Forces, between academic, institutional and industrial parties, and between ministries that also use this collaboration as a model to increase innovative cooperation also in other industrial areas.

Saab has together with Boeing developed a new military trainer, the Boeing-Saab T-7A trainer,  which is now in production for the US AirForce. Saab also manufactures unmanned systems, radar systems, sensor systems, AEW systems (Airborne Early Warning), C4ISR systems (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), and other security and defence related products. The most recent development is the GlobalEye, an AEW&C solution with Erieye ER (Extended range) on a Bombardier 6000 long-range business jet (GlobalEye video).

Although production of civil aircraft has been shut down, a considerable number of Saab 340/2000 commuter aircraft are still in operation worldwide.   Saab is also acting as a tier one supplier of aero structures to both Airbus and Boeing. Saab is a main partner in the European CleanSky programme and has developed a unique composite wing for laminar flow, which has been flight tested on an Airbus 340 (BLADE project). Within the ATM sector, Saab and the Swedish Air Navigation Service Provider (LFV) were the first in the world to put remote air traffic control towers into operation. This innovative system from Saab has now been set up in several other countries.

GKN Aerospace Sweden ABTrollhättan, Sweden.
More on: or GKN Aerospace in Sweden

GKN Aerospace is one of the world’s largest independent first tier suppliers to the global aviation industry. GKN Aerospace Sweden AB, located in Trollhättan, Sweden (formerly Volvo Aero) develops and manufactures components for aircraft, gas turbi­nes and rocket engines with high technology content in cooperation with the world’s leading pro­ducers.The RM12 engine powers the Gripen fighter. It is based on the General Electric F404 engine from which it has been developed to single engine safety criteria, higher performance and greater durability. This engine is used by the Air forces of Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Thailand and South Africa. The new Gripen E/F fighter will be powered by the General Electric F414, and GKN Aerospace will provide engine product support and overhaul. GKN Aerospace also develops and produce the exhaust nozzle and turbines for liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the Ariane 5 rocket.



The largest sales come from development and manufacturing of advanced light weight metal and composite structures and rotors to all large engine OEM’s in the western world. GKN Aerospace delivers components to 90% of all large civil aircraft engines.


GKN Aerospace Sweden is a Core Partner and member of the Clean Sky-2 European demonstratator project with responsibility for complex structural and rotating parts in 3 different engine demonstrators.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, SME:s
Although Saab and GKN Aerospace Engine Systems are by far the largest and most important industries within the Swedish aerospace sector, there are also many Space oriented manufacturers and a number of very active SME:s in the country. The Swedish Government is focused on developing the latter and has established a wide range of funding mechanisms to that end. The Aerospace Cluster Sweden (ACS) focused initially on the west and east parts of Sweden but has expanded with a node also in the north of Sweden. MoU:s between the east and west regions and the EU Clean Sky Joint Technology Undertaking highlight the importance of aeronautics in the regions and also makes funding available from the European Structural Funds through the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Read more on: Aerospace Cluster Sweden (ACS).

Sweden has a long tradition in aeronautical research performed at universities, institutes, and industry. Swedish industry and research organisations have always been and are still very active in international collaborative research and demonstrator programs like EU supported programs including Clean Sky 2 and SESAR 2020. Other examples include Neuron (receiving the ICAS von Karman Award 2014) and programmes funded by EDA (The European Defence Agency).The Swedish governmental support for aeronautics is unyielding. The recent decision to develop and build a new generation fighter, Gripen E, is a most significant proof. Aeronautics was in 2014 selected as one of the six first chosen areas out of a total of 17 strategic innovation programmes supported by the government, which implies specific research programs for both civil and military aeronautics.

Innovair – National Strategic Innovation Programme for Aeronautics
Innovair is Sweden’s national strategic innovation programme for aeronautics. The aim is to coordinate and support stakeholders from industry, universities, institutes, associations and government agencies who are active in the aeronautics sector. The main objective is to promote favorable conditions for a strong aeronautics industry in Sweden and to strengthen this sector through increased collaboration, research and information dissemination.

Swedish aeronautics is internationally recognized and contributes beside exports also with high capacity for innovation, high-tech jobs, community services, and technology transfer to other sectors. Another main objective is to contribute to Swedish defence and security capabilities. International competition is increasing and strategic initiatives in selected areas is necessary to preserve and strengthen the conditions for the aeronautics sector in Sweden.

Innovair has both short- and long-term goals for the environment, growth, innovation, and a strengthened international position. To achieve these goals, a joint research and innovation agenda, NRIA Flyghas been developed, with updates every three or four years. The agenda formulates a strategy and also prioritises which technologies require focused efforts to create a strong international position.

Read more about Innovair and aeronautical research in Sweden on the Innovair website

SARC – Swedish Aerospace Research Center

SARC – the Swedish Aerospace Research Center – is a recent initiative by INNOVAIR to establish a national joint center for academic research on aeronautics.  SARC initially involves the larger technical universities KTH (Stockholm), LiU (Linköping) and Chalmers (Gothenburg) but other universities will be involved in the near future. SARC has been created to encourage national coordination and alignment of academic research in aeronautics, in response to globalisation with increased international competition and also collaboration. SARC will stimulate basic research in aeronautics and act as an academic counterpart to industry, to ensure a balance between industrial and academic interests.

SARC will act as an academic hub and network for aeronautics through e.g. a graduate school for Ph.D. students, organisation of seminars and conferences, and as a meeting place for academia and industry. It will also actively encourage and facilitate collaboration with strategic international partners.

SARC has set up three main branches: – SARC.Research; – SARC.Academy; –SARC.International
Read more about SARC and its activities on the website

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