A Saab Gripen fighter jet is seen during a flying display last month at the Farnborough International Airshow. Switzerland has agreed to details of its planned purchase of 22 fighter jets from Sweden, despite a critical parliamentary report on the deal, the countries’ defense ministries said Aug. 25. (Adrian Dennis / Agence France-Presse)
GENEVA — Switzerland has agreed to details of its planned purchase of 22 fighter jets from Sweden, despite a critical parliamentary report on the deal, the countries’ defense ministries said Aug. 25.
A Swiss government statement said an agreement in principle had been reached between its weapons procurement agency armasuisse and Sweden’s FXMagency on the acquisition of the Saab Gripen warplanes.
Final details of specifications, delivery dates, prices, equipment and infrastructure had been settled pending a final green light from Bern, it said.
The deal forms part of a larger order for Gripens to be shared with Sweden, which Stockholm said would help to keep costs down.
The Swiss parliamentary security commission said Aug. 21 that the “choice of jet made by the Federal Council carries the most risks: technically, commercially, financially and in respect of the delivery date,” Swiss news agency ATS reported.
The members of the commission nonetheless voted 16-9 against demanding that ministers put a halt to the deal.
Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said that the Gripen “was the cheapest” option compared with the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter and its purchase price — 3.126 billion francs (2.6 million euros, $3.25 billion) —was guaranteed not to change.
Opponents of the Gripen purchase, which still has to be approved by the federal parliament, have said that they would seek to hold a national referendum on the deal.
The Gripens, which would replace the Swiss Air Force’s aging U.S.-built F-5 Tigers, are of a more advanced model still under development and will not be available before 2018, according to Bern.
For its part the Swedish government plans to buy 40 to 60 new Gripens over the next decade at a cost of 2 billion kronor (242 million euros).