Sweden will order 60 JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets, the government said Jan. 17. Above, a JAS 39 Gripen takes off in 2011. (Patric Soderstrom / Scanpix Sweden via AFP)
STOCKHOLM — The Swedish Armed Forces will buy 60 JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets, at the top of a 40-60 range stated in an agreement last year, the Swedish government said Jan. 17.
“The first planes will be delivered in 2018. and the system is expected to be fully operational around 2027,” it said in a statement. “It’s an historic decision that will secure Swedish air combat capability for a long time ahead,” Defense Minister Karin Enstroem said in the statement.
The decision means the country would be able to maintain strategically important know-how in the country’s aerospace sector, she added.
Sweden said on Aug. 25 that it would order between 40 and 60 Gripen jets during the signing of a framework agreement with Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council announced in November 2011 that the country would purchase 22 Gripen jets for an estimated 3.1 billion francs (2.5 billion euros or $3.3 billion), reportedly the cheapest of three offers.
French plane maker Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter, produced by the EADS consortium, were the other bidders.
The decision has to be ratified by the Swiss parliament this spring before a definitive contract is signed in the summer. The acquisition has been controversial in Switzerland, where a parliamentary report found that the choice “carries the most risks: technically, commercially, financially and in respect of the delivery date.”
According to the Swedish armed forces, Sweden currently has 134 JAS 39 Gripen aircraft of earlier generations in service.