The Swedish government has said it will spend 750 million kronor to help Saab develop a new unmanned warplane. This despite the fact that defence minister Leni Björklund is reported to have said that Sweden’s air force does not need the plane.
News of the government’s plans came as Saab aerospace announced 350 redundancies due to insufficient demand for its planes.
It is planned that the new plane, called the Neuron, will be developed by Saab in conjunction with French company Dassault. The French government has already invested the equivalent of 3 billion kronor in the project.
When on Tuesday Björklund told the parliamentary defence committee of the plans, she was asked by Liberal MP Allan Widman whether the Swedish air force really needed the plane. The response from Björklund was that the operational use that Sweden would gain from the plane was in “retaining the expertise in flight technology,” reported Dagens Nyheter.
Widman said that he thought that it was “very peculiar to spend so much on things that we don’t have operational use of.”
Green MP Lars Ångström called the decision a “scandal”, and said that the government should instead cut the defence budget.
Björklund’s announcement came out of the blue to the committee, reported TT, and only one member in three supported the move.