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Swiss selects Gripen and sparks a new row

The Swiss government has decided to select Gripen as its future multirole fighter aircraft for the Swiss Air Force. Given that Switzerland is known globally for applying highest procurement standards and requesting state-of-the art technologies, Saab is both proud and delighted that Gripen has been chosen as the Swiss Air Force’s future multirole fighter aircraft.

“The Swiss type-selection confirms that Saab is a market-leader in the defence and security industry and that Gripen is a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money”, says Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO Saab. The Gripen programme will create a long-term partnership between Switzerland and Sweden. Saab assuresSwitzerlanda long-term strategic industrial co-operation aimed at creating sustainable high tech jobs, transferring technology and generating export business.

saab gripen

Saab stands prepared to start negotiations and await the next steps of the process. Gripen is in service with the Swedish, Czech Republic, Hungarian, South African and Royal Thai Air Forces. The UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide. Saab is also delivering successful industrial co-operation programmes in Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa.

France’s Dassault-led Rafale International team has announced its surprise at being eliminated from a Swiss fighter contest, and claimed that the selection of the Saab Gripen NG on cost grounds does not reflect Berne’s previous evaluation of its aircraft. The Swiss Federal Council on 30 November announced its intention to sign a deal with Saab next year for 22 Gripens, with its decision also having ruled out a Cassidian-led bid based on the Eurofighter Typhoon. It confirmed choosing the Swedish fighter due to factors including its lower acquisition and maintenance costs, but conceded that the selection marked a decision “not to position Switzerland at the highest European level as regards the performance of new combat aircraft”. In a statement issued late the same day, the Rafale industry team countered that “The Swiss-tailored Gripen only exists on paper”, and claimed that its completion posed “technical development and production risk significantly increasing the financial efforts required of the Swiss authorities”. It also challenged the customer nation’s wider assumptions on cost.

“The Rafale’s capacities would enable the Swiss confederation to meet its operational requirements with a smaller number of aircraft at an equivalent or lower cost, as was demonstrated during the assessments by the Swiss air force,” it said. Detailed flight evaluations of the Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon were completed in Switzerland in late 2008, with the nation having amassed almost a combined 130h on the rival types, including 60h on the French candidate.

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