Sweden to order 60 Gripen fighter jets: government

17th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

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 on Thursday.

"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," Defence 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 August 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 for an estimated 3.1 billion francs (2.5 billion euros or $3.3 billion), reportedly the cheapest of three offers.

French planemaker 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.

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© 2013 AFP

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