Saturday, September 21, 2013

Swiss Parliament Approves Purchase of JAS Gripen E / NG From Sweden

The Parliament of Switzerland has approved the purchase of JAS Gripen E / NG fighter aircraft From Sweden by a majority decision. The lower house had previously given its approval and Swiss pilots are taking part in test flights of the Gripen NG.

While the decision is good news for the Gripen program, the purchase may need to be submitted to a popular vote by the public. There are some signs that a significant proportion of the Swiss public does not approve of the acquisition.

The plan is to buy 22 new Gripen E aircraft from SAAB, the latest version of the Gripen and also known as the Gripen NG, with a budget of 3.13 billion Swiss francs or about $3.4 billion.

SAAB has already begun work on 60 Gripen E/F fighter aircraft for the Swedish Air Force. The first fighter aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2018 and are to be completed by 2026.

In addition, Sweden is actively looking at export opportunities abroad. The Czech Republic has recently announced its intention to extend the Gripen C/D aircraft it has on lease by another 14 years.

Thailand, which earlier this month received the last 3 of the 12 Gripen C/D aircraft it ordered in 2008 and 2010, is also interested in buying another 6 aircraft. Negotiations may possibly lead to some sort of barter deal between Thailand and Sweden to help finance a purchase.

SAAB is looking to cooperate with Boeing to supply the United States Air Force with a modified version of the Gripen as trainer aircraft. It is also looking at possible partners in countries such as South Korea to help develop the Flygsystem 2020 or FS-2020.

This project is envisioned as a fifth-generation design with very low observable or stealth characteristics. The Swedish government is said to support the project, but it is unlikely to have the resources to develop it on its own.

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