Swiss fighter jet purchase to go ahead despite criticism

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Switzerland is to press ahead with its controversial purchase of 22 Saab Gripen fighter jets despite a highly critical parliamentary report into the deal released on Tuesday.

The parliamentary security commission found 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 -- appointed by the Swiss parliament's National Council of representatives -- nonetheless voted 16 to 9 against demanding that ministers put a halt to the deal.

Defence minister Ueli Maurer who is in charge of the dossier said that negotiations with Sweden were "reaching their conclusion (and) will allow us to resolve any outstanding issues".

The purchase price -- 3.126 billion francs (2.6 million euros, $3.25 billion) -- was guaranteed not to change, he said, adding that the Gripen "was the cheapest" option compared with the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter.

Opponents of the Gripen purchase announced that they would seek to hold a national referendum on the deal.

© 2012 AFP

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