Deal: Gripen will serve Czech Air Force another 14 years

The Gripen design in true form with the Czech Air Force. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Gripen design in true form with the Czech Air Force. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A great day for Swedish Saab. The Czech government decided to continue leasing the 14 JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets for another 14 years from Sweden, confirmed the Swedish export authority (FXM) in the late afternoon (CET/GMT) of Wednesday September 11th, 2013.

Sweden and the Czech Republic are finishing the final conditions of the new deal, says FXM general director Ulf Hammarström. ,,We are convinced we found a really good solution that meets the requirement of the Czech Air Force now and in the future.”

The 12 JAS 39C Gripen single-seat and 2 JAS 39D Gripen two-seat multirole fighters have been part of the Czech air defences since 2005, when they started to replace obsolete MiG-21s. The Russian made jets were inherited from the former Czechoslovakian armed forces, when the combined country split up in 1993, a few years after the fall of the so-called Iron Curtain.

,,The strategic partnership Sweden has with the Czech Republic creates advantages for both countries, with benefits for the Swedish defences, the Swedish tax payers and other Gripen users as well”, says FXM’s Hammarström.

The deal that will be signed by both countries includes training of Czech personnel and upgrading of the 14 fighter jets, as well as logistic and operational support in the daily usage of the Swedish made fighter (J), attack (A) and reconnaissance (S) jet.

The Czech Republic was the first NATO country to fly the JAS 39 Gripen. It paved the way for Hungary to strike a same deal with 12 single- and 2 two-seaters. South Africa and Thailand followed, with Pretoria ordering 26 Gripens (17 C plus 9 D). South African Gripens fly since 2008. Earlier this month the last three of the eight JAS 39C and four JAS 39D were on their delivery flight to 7th Wing of the Royal Thai Air Force.

Gripen fighters might even bear the white cross in the near future, as a majority of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday September 11, 2013, approved the purchase of 22 JAS 39E/F Gripen. That is the next generation of the indigenous Swedish combat aircraft. The Swiss deal is subject to a referendum though. Parallel to the Swiss the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) is expecting 60 of the newest Gripen that is still being developed by Saab in its hometown of Linköping.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

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