Gripens for Rent

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Switzerland may get some Swedish-manufactured Gripens earlier than expected if a deal hammered out over the past two days by the two countries' respective defense ministers comes to fruition.

Switzerland's defense minister, Ueli Maurer, announced today after meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Karin Enström, that Sweden could rent to the Swiss airforce around 10 Gripens in the current C/D configuration whilst Switzerland awaits the Gripen E/F version, unavailable before 2020, which it contracted to buy last November.

The loan of the 10 aircraft would be conditional on Swiss parliament approval for this SF3.1bn (€2.6bn) contract for 22 Gripens, which is still pending, and on the results of the referendum the Swiss government is likely to hold on the issue.

This rental would enable the Swiss air force to ground its aging Tiger F-5 fleet and thereby save money on their upkeep while at the same time accustoming the pilots and mechanics to the Gripen.

The Gripen purchase was the main subject of the two-day meeting between the two defense ministers who had not met before, as Enström has only been in her job for a few months.

They also signed a declaration of intent to strengthen their cooperation in defense and security policies.

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