Gripen manufacturer SAAB as suffered a setback this week after the Swiss National Council’s Committee on Security Policy decided on April 9 to suspend discussions on the funds for the purchase of 22 Gripen combat aircraft, its president Chantal Galladé (PS/ZH) said. The issue will be debated anew in late August.
According to reports, the committee wants clarifications on agreed fines for contract non-compliance, on the inflation and exchange rate risks, and on the level of economic compensation (offsets) for Swiss industry.
The Committee has also questioned whether the interim solution of leasing 11 fighter aircraft should not be abandoned because it is relatively expensive
Despite the latest setback, SAAB says that, with countries like Canada and Denmark reconsidering buying the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF, its sales prospects for the Gripen is improving.
“Sales of current model Gripens and the NG, the next generation model, may exceed 300 units in the next two decades”, Eddy de La Motte, head of Gripen Exports said. “A lease of fighters to Malaysia, a new sale to Finland and a follow-on deal with Thailand are possible.”
The aircraft-maker opened talks with Canada in December after it decided to review options amid concerns over mounting costs for the F-35 it was set to buy. De la Motte said that the company has received a formal request but has not decided to mount a sales campaign yet.
Most recently, Saab secured a contract from Sweden and Switzerland to jointly develop the new version of the Gripen to be delivered from 2018.
Meanwhile, the Gripen is currently in the running against the Eurofighter, and Boeing's F-18 to win a contract to supply fighter aircraft to Malaysia. SAAB has also offered eight jets to Croatia including support and training package for pilots and technicians, and a financing solution.
Brazil is also considering buying the Gripen which is in the running against the F-18 Super Hornet and Dassault’s Rafale for the much coveted contract.