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Green light for Gripen fighter sale to Thailand

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Green light for Gripen fighter sale to Thailand
08:19 CET+01:00
The Swedish government has approved the sale of six JAS 39 Gripen fighter planes to Thailand.

The deal is worth 3.8 billion kronor.

“The government today gave the Defence Material Administration (FMV) permission to sign an agreement with Thailand's air force. The agreement is for six Gripen planes and a radar surveillance system,” said Mikael Östlund, press secretary for Swedish defence minister Sten Tolgfors.

The sale has been controversial ever since a military junta took power in Thailand in September. There has also been unrest in the country's southern regions.

According to Östlund the situation is completely different in Thailand today.

“The military junta dissolved on January 22nd. A new parliament is being chosen. So Thailand is no longer a military dictatorship,” he said.

Criticism of the deal has not abated, however.

“[Thailand] is clearly an inappropriate country to export the Jas Gripen to,” said Ola Mattson, general secretary at the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.

“There are two ongoing conflicts in the country—an armed conflict in southern Thailand and the war against drugs. The Jas could be used in both conflicts,” said Mattson.

The deal was to be announced publicly on Friday. However, following a Thursday-evening report by Swedish Television's Aktuellt news program, the defence ministry chose to confirm the deal early.

“It's very positive that Thailand chose the Swedish Gripen as the country renews its air defence systems. It benefits Sweden and Swedish taxpayers,” said defence minister Sten Tolgors in a press release.

Before the agreement can enter into force it must be approved by the Inspector for Strategic Products, which reviews all weapons exports from Sweden.

The planes are to be delivered in 2011.

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