Sweden Announces Gripen E/F Plans

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Sweden plans to buy 40-60 Saab JAS 39E/F fighters after reaching agreement on joint development, acquisition and operation of the next-generation Gripen with Switzerland, which plans to buy 22.

Announcing the decision, which previews the budget proposal to be submitted on September 20 for parliamentary approval, the government says it will seek to increase defense appropriations by SKr300 million ($45.5 million) in 2013 and 2014, then by SKr200 million annually, for a total of more than SKr2 billion over 10 years to develop the aircraft. Even with the additional funding, cuts will be required in other parts of the armed forces, the government says.

Photo: Saab

Defense minister Karin Enstrom says the partnership with Switzerland means Sweden can procure the next-generation Gripen for less than the cost of doing it alone. The countries will share the costs of acquisition, operation, maintenance and upgrades over the aircraft's life. The Swiss deal still has to gain parliamentary approval against political opposition, however, and a national referendum may be required.

Sweden operates 100 JAS 39C/Ds, which the ministry says will meet the country's requirements until 2020-30. The next-generation Gripen is to be operational in Sweden from 2023, the ministry says, and the 40-60 JAS 39E/Fs planned "will best meet the military needs" until at least 2040. Saab says it submitted a tender to the Swedish government for the next-generation Gripen and is waiting to begin negotiations.

Update: In the meantime, EADS has offered Switzerland Typhoons instead, again.

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