Both chambers of the Swiss Parliament have approved the national air force’s planned procurement of 22 Gripen E multirole combat aircraft from Sweden.
Including associated funding of CHF3.126bn ($3.27bn) on the basis of an independent fund, the acquisition was approved by the National Council by 119 votes to 71, with four abstentions, and by the Council of States by 25 votes to 17.
The council had already voted in favour of the Gripen purchase from Saab by 14 votes to nine, last month.
Saab press officer Helena Lindstrand was quoted by Radio Sweden as saying: "The two chambers of the parliament voted separately some weeks ago. Now they have re-voted, as required by their parliamentary system."
The procurement is still uncertain as the Greens and the Liberal Greens parties have decided to seek a referendum on the issue, anticipated to be held in May or September 2014.
Switzerland confirmed its plans to acquire 22 single-seater Gripen E fighters for replacement of the national air force’s ageing F-5 Tiger aircraft fleet in August 2012.
The acquisition will be funded through annual payments of CHF300m ($331.4m) for ten years, with the amount to be taken from the overall budget of the Swiss armed forces, which stands at CHF4.7bn ($5.19bn).
A next-generation variant of the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft, Gripen E features more powerful engines, new electronic radar and upgraded presentation systems in the cockpit and modern avionics to successfully perform longer-duration missions.
Additional features include new communication links, increased flight time, more weapon stations and load capability and a new electronic warfare system.
Expected to begin in 2018, the aircraft deliveries will be complete by 2021.
Image: The Gripen E is a next-generation variant of the JAS 39 Gripen multi-role combat aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Ernst Vikne.