Sweden plans to buy 40-60 JAS 39E/F fighters after reaching agreement on the joint development, acquisition and operation of the next-generation with Switzerland, which plans to buy 22.
Initial operational capability is scheduled for 2023, and Swedish Defense Minister Karin Enstrom says the estimated life-cycle cost over 30 years for the new Gripen fleet will be SEK90 billion ($13.6 billion).
Previewing the budget proposal to be submitted on Sept. 20 for parliamentary approval, the government says it will seek to increase defense appropriations by SEK300 million in 2013-14, then by SEK200 million annually, for a total of SEK2.2 billion over 10 years in additional funding for the next-generation Gripen program.
Even with the additional budget on top of already assigned funds, cuts will be required in other parts of the armed forces, the government says.
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 acquisition, operation, maintenance and upgrade expenses over the aircraft’s life.
Further details of the Framework Agreement between Sweden and Switzerland are to be released on Aug. 28. The Swiss deal still has to gain parliamentary approval against political opposition, however, and a national referendum may be required.
Switzerland’s schedule calls for the program to be presented to parliament for approval late this year, with contract signature planned for July 2013 and deliveries to begin in 2018. The referendum, if required, would be in mid-2014.
Sweden operates 100 JAS 39C/Ds, which the ministry says will meet the country’s requirements until 2020-30. The first squadron of JAS 39E/Fs is to be operational in 2023, and the 40-60 aircraft planned “will best meet the military needs” until at least 2040.
The defense ministry says Sweden looked at buying aircraft from another country, but the analysis showed that acquiring the next-generation Gripen jointly with Switzerland was the most efficient option.
The purchase also will boost Swedish research and development, exports and preserve jobs in the defense sector, according to the ministry. Saab says it has submitted a tender to the government for the next-generation Gripen and is waiting to begin negotiations.