HELSINKI — Sweden's state-funded military materials procurement agency is denying that a deal has been struck to sell 12 Saab JAS Gripen C/D multirole fighters to Botswana. Försvarets Materielverk (FMV) confirmed that while the organization is "in talks" with Botswana, the number of aircraft under discussion is around eight and not 16.

The aircraft type, the JAS Gripen C/D, is an older version of the Gripen. It is thought that Botswana is looking to secure a low cost value deal and buy eight surplus aircraft of this type.

Initial reports out of Botswana suggested that a procurement contract valued at up to $1.7 billion had been signed with FMV.

"What we can confirm is that a dialogue has been initiated with Botswana, and that the discussions are about eight aircraft of the C/D version," FMV spokesperson Linda Bengtsson said.

The Gripen is no stranger to Africa — Saab has sold 26 Gripens to the South African Air Force. The deliveries, which began in 2008, comprised 17 single-seat Gripen C-models and nine two-seater Gripen D-models.

Botswana's military currently uses 40-year old Canadair CF-5C/D aircraft. The southern African country has also been linked to a possible purchase of the combat version of the T-50 Golden Eagle produced by Korea Aerospace Industries.

Saab's biggest sale deals for the JAS Gripen have been with Sweden, Brazil, Thailand and South Africa. The Gripen has been offered to Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia with buy or lease options. Saab is also set to pitch the Gripen-NG in several major European fighter replacement competitions being run in Poland and Finland.

Saab is also engaged in customizing an offer to sell the Gripen-NG fighter to the Indian Air Force.

A consortium that includes Saab, the FMV, and the ministries of defense and trade are preparing a structured offer to India that will contain a significant industrial, technology transfer as well as local development and production components.