In our original list from three years ago, the Gripen did not even make the top ten. Its dramatic jump to the number two position is due to one reason:the entry into operational service (in April 2016) of the MBDA Meteor missile. The Gripen is the first fighter in the world to carry the long-delayed Meteor. The Meteor outranges every Western weapon, and thanks to its ramjet propulsion (an innovation for air-to-air missiles) it has a great deal of energy, even at the outer extremes of its flight profile, allowing it to chase maneuvering targets at extreme ranges. This combined with a two-way datalink (allowing assets other than the firer to communicate with the missile), the aircraft’s low radar signature, and the Gripen’s pilot’s superb situational awareness makes the small Swedish fighter a particularly nasty threat to potential enemies.Read it all here.
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This list they brought out does point to one thing that Greenert preached and now everyone is latching onto. Payloads over platforms. The Gripen carried the most advanced BVR missile in the West. If we're serious about maintaining our edge then we need to work on new missiles asap...or at least buy a few thousand Meteor missiles.
Side Note: The F-35 didn't make the list even though its in service with the USMC. Interesting huh?