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Saab loses Norway fighter plane tender

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Saab loses Norway fighter plane tender
17:16 CET+01:00
Saab was dealt a serious blow on Thursday as the Norwegian government announced its decision to purchase US-made Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 planes rather than Sweden's JAS Gripen.

Of the two alternatives, only the JSF fulfilled the criteria laid down by the Norwegian government, according to the country's defence minister, Anne-Grete Ström-Erichsen.

Aeronautics groups Saab of Sweden and Lockheed Martin of the United States both submitted tenders in April this year for a planned order by the Norwegian Air Force for 48 combat aircraft.

Sweden's defence ministry backed the proposed deal as an important expression of Nordic defence coooperation.

Some observers felt at the outset that any choice other than the JSF would jeopardize the historic alliance between the United States and Norway, a NATO member loyal to Washington.

But other experts said the Swedish aircraft, which is believed to be cheaper, corresponds better to the needs of the Norwegian Air Force.

Norway is primarily seen as needing fighters that can defend Norway's sovereignty in the Arctic against Russian planes.

The JSF, which has suffered repeated delays and extra costs, is meanwhile specialized in bombing missions.

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