Hungary receives Gripen jets

Hungary took delivery of their first five JAS 39 Gripen fighter planes on Thursday. They are thus the proud owners of the world's most modern fighters. The planes were formally handed over by defence minister, Leni Björklund, on behalf of the supplier - the Swedish state.

Hungary have leased a total of 14 planes, which were previously owned by the Swedish Air Force, but have been comprehensively up-graded. Hungary is the third country to fly the Gripen fighters, after Sweden and the Czech Republic. Hungary will purchase the planes at a later date.

Saab and the Swedish government, in the form of the Defence Matériel Aministration (FMV), are in discussions with a number of other potential buyers.

During the week, Saab provided information to Norway. Similar information has already been sent to Denmark. This is seen as a first concrete step towards a possible future agreement.

Saab has viewed events in Norway with interest. Norway, which has a socialist government, has started to question a continuation of the American Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project. Amongst the questions raised has been the issue of peripheral deals offered by the USA.

Hungary will recoup 110% of the cost of the Gripen in similar deals.

Hungary are highly satisfied so far. Sandor Szabo from the finance department told TT that they have already signed 72% of the deals in the form of investments in the country from big business such as Electrolux and Astra Zeneca.

Szabo only has Sweden’s word that they will fulfil their obligations.

The multi billion kronor deal is big news in Hungary. At the handing over ceremony at Kecskémets

air base, there was boundless enthusiasm over the arrival of replacements for the ageing Mig-29 fleet.

Szabo reported that Hungary has received delegations from several countries, including Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, who have asked how Sweden have conducted themselves over the project. Sweden received glowing references.

The Gripen models which Saab are offering Norway and Denmark, according to Saab, meet the highest criteria at a much lower price than USA are asking for the JSF. Saab are offering 48 planes each to Norway and Denmark, whose F-16s have started to age.

TT has spoken to a number of pilots who have test flown both the Gripen and F-16 and the pilots say the Gripen acquitted itself well.

Gripen will be delivered to the Swedish Air Force next year. Afterwards, Saab will build 28 planes for South Africa. But they need more customers.

The Gripen deal in Hungary has several winners: the Swedish Air Force has off-loaded 14 planes from their surplus; Saab has had the opportunity to completely rebuild the plane to the highest modern specifications; and Hungary gets a top of the range fighter, plus significant investment.


Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.