The Swiss National Council’s (Nationalrat) Security Committee has approved the country’s planned acquisition of 22 Gripen E multirole combat aircraft from Saab.
Having received 14 in favour and nine against votes, the procurement is scheduled to progress to a wider parliamentary votation on 11 September 2013.
Switzerland had initially confirmed its plans to acquire 22 single-seater Gripen E fighters at a cost of CHF3.126bn ($3.27bn) for replacing the national air force’s ageing F-5 Tiger aircraft fleet in August 2012.
The acquisition has, however, been delayed several times as the upper house of the Swiss parliament failed to secure funding for the deal, while the lower house’s security policy commission postponed voting, asking the government for additional contract information in April this year.
Saab senior executive vice-president and Aeronautics business area head Lennart Sindahl said the approval represents a very positive endorsement of the Gripen programme.
Sindahl said, "Whilst we continue to respect and follow the political process, we also continue to assemble the pre-production Gripen E.
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”Also, our Swiss industrial participation programme aiming at creating business between the suppliers to Saab and Swiss companies is progressing. It has today seen 456 contracts signed between our suppliers and 117 Swiss companies valued at 315 MCHF.”
The contract also covers research and development costs, mission planning systems, initial spares and support, training and certification process.
The aircraft deliveries are expected to commence in 2018 and will be completed approximately by 2021.
A next-generation version 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.
Image: Gripen E is an upgraded version of JAS 39 Gripen aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Ernst Vikne.