May 18 is going to be another important day in the story of Saab Gripen. On this day, Switzerland will hold a national referendum to decide whether the country should buy 22 Gripen E fighter aircraft to replace aging F-5E Tigers.
The Swedish Gripen E was selected by the Swiss government two years ago, after a thorough comparison with the Dassault Rafale and the Typhoon. A national vote has to be held however, as opponents of the deal collected the 50,000 signatures required for a referendum.
The pending deal is worth 3,4 billion USD. Only last December, Brazil decided on buying 36 Gripen E/Fs, worth 4,5 billion USD. Sweden itself has purchased 60 Saab Gripen Es.
In Switzerland, the F-5Es are nearing the end of their lives. The aircraft is still being flown, one of the users being the aerial demonstration team Patrouille Suisse.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest