UPDATED 31 AUGUST 2014 | Just two weeks ahead of the 2014 parliamentary, provincial and municipal elections the Swedish center-right government has secured the purchase of 60 SAAB JAS 39 Gripen-E multi-role fighters for the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). This despite higher development and procurement costs after the Swiss people voted no against their country getting 22 of these Swedish made fighter jets.
The news came shortly before the Swedish Air Force again forward deployed a pair of its current JAS 39C Gripen aircraft to Visby airport on Gotland, the biggest Swedish island strategically located in the Baltic Sea, after increased Russian air activity and intrusions of nearby Finnish airspace by Russian military aircraft.
Earlier starting point of the green light for the Swedish purchase would be that the costs for this weapon program would be diminished by a co-deal with another country, at a time when the Swiss military and government had okayed the buy of almost two dozen of the combat aircraft from the factories in Swedish Linköping. But on 18 May this year the outcome of a people’s referendum in the Alps state put a stop to these plans.
Despite yet unknown but certainly higher purchase costs the Swedish government wants to keep the deal for its defence going, securing support of the largest opposition party – the leftist Social Democratics – only weeks before the national elections.
“The developments in our part of the world and how the Russians are acting in Ukraine – where Russian troops are now on the ground – underline the importance that we go ahead with the purchase of the next-generation fighter jet”, Swedish defence minister Karin Enström said to SVT national TV news. Mrs. Enström says that safeguards will be put into place so that the Gripen-E purchase will not affect other materiel renewal programs within the Swedish defence forces, but acknowledged there is no plan yet for financing the 60 new aircraft.
The no from Switzerland might be somewhat offset by the yes of Brazil in December 2013 to the purchase of 36 new Gripen-E fighter, but much of the production of the Brazilian Gripen will be done locally by Embraer. In Stockholm there is a yet politically unsecured wish to raise the number of future Flygvapnet Gripen-Es from even more from 60 to 70.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger