LONDON — The Swedish government has given the country’s armed forces a green light to procure the next-generation version of the fighter aircraft.
Defense Minister Karin Enstrom told ministers on Jan. 17 that the armed forces will buy 60JAS-39E Gripens for an as-yet undisclosed price. The first aircraft is set to be delivered in 2018, with the full complement received by 2027.
“It is a historic decision that will consolidate Swedish fighter capability for a long time,” Enstrom said, adding that the move will ensure that “strategically important skills” will be retained for the Swedish aviation industry.
According to reports, the decision retains caveats under which the order would be canceled if Switzerland doesn’t finalize a planned order for the aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Northrop F-5 Tigers.
The decision comes just more than a month since the Swedish Parliament — the Riksdagen — voted in favor of the decision to buy the Gripen E, with 264 members out of a possible 301 voting yes for the program.
In a statement, Saab says the decision is “within the span previously discussed, both by the government and the Swedish armed forces, in order to meet future defense needs in Sweden until 2042.
“This decision once again shows the broad support both from politicians and authorities for Gripen being the backbone of Swedish air defense for many years to come.
“We have held continuous and fruitful discussions with defense authorities. These talks will now continue until there is a formal order in place,” the company added.