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Sweden 'tricked' in failed Norway Gripen bid

TT/The Local/dl · 3 Dec 2010, 08:06

Published: 03 Dec 2010 08:06 GMT+01:00

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Citing US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks, the Aftonbladet newspaper reports that Norway’s supposed interest in the Gripen was just a show.

Norway ultimately decided to purchase the US-made Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 combat aircraft in a deal reportedly worth 55 billion kronor ($7.9 billion).

At the time, Norway's choice of the American plane over the Gripen angered a former Saab executive.

"We are really surprised about how this was handled, what happened yesterday, and about the justification," Jan Nygren, who served as Saab’s deputy CEO until two years prior to the decision, told the TT news agency at the time.

"And besides, we are just a tad surprised to say the least that they so unabashedly chose to criticize the Gripen, despite the fact that all of us involved know that the Gripen is a better fit for the functional demands laid out in the documentation included in the proposal request."

According to Aftonbladet, the United States threw a spanner in the works of the Gripen deal by stopping the export of an American-made radar component for use on the Swedish plane.

The prelude to the snub included a 2008 meeting between Sweden’s defence minister Sten Tolgfors and the US ambassador at the time, Michael Wood.

During the meeting, Tolgfors asked for permission to buy the American-made Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system for the Gripen.

But documents released by WikiLeaks describe how the Americans worked to scuttle the Swedes’ radar request.

“We suggest that we delay the decision about the ASEA-permit for the Gripen until after Norway’s decision,” read one US diplomatic cable, according to Aftonbladet.

The newspaper writes that the US embassy in Oslo also placed a “call for help” to Washington for assistance in putting high-level political pressure on Norway following negative reports about the F-35 in the Norwegian press.

After the call, prospects for the F-35 brightened; Norwegian politicians gave signals that made the United States confident its plane would win the Norwegian tender. But the Americans were careful not to claim that the aircraft purchase was a done deal before Norway announced its decision.

“We must continue to act like an honourable and elegant competitor,” read a cable from the US embassy in Oslo.

Swedish defence minister Sten Tolgfors refused to comment on the details of the leaked documents, saying he had no plans to contact the Norwegian government to find out exactly what happened with the failed Gripen deal.

Story continues below…

“No, I’m not going to do that for the simple reason that when the decision came [about Norway’s choice of aircraft] we had had wide-ranging contacts with the Norwegian government, as well as with experts, because we needed to understand the valuation that Norway had made. It was important because we own and we push and will continue to push to own the Gripen plane for many years,” Tolgfors told TT.

Håkan Juholt, chair of the Riksdag’s Committee on Defence, and former chair in Sweden’s defence commission, believes the government has been naïve.

“I’ve always had suspicions that it was something other than the price and performance that was decisive in this deal,” he told TT, adding that it’s obvious that the tender wasn’t a questions of fair play.

“The Swedish government has been naïve,” he said, adding that a Swedish defence minister who a sitting US ambassador repors as loving the United States should perhaps not be seen as the toughest opponent one can have in a negotiation.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:43 December 3, 2010 by Keith #5083
Based on this Wikileaks information, Sweden should not only withdraw it's charges against Assange (unless they really, really have excellent evidence) and furthermore should give him honorary citizenship.

Wikileaks have performed a most valuable task in these revelations showing clearly that it's not always the best product that wins.
09:32 December 3, 2010 by Cakid
The rape charges against Assange need to be investigated and prosecuted based on the evidence, and have nothing to do with the failed Gripen bid.

The USA has no duty to export the AESA radar system to a Swedish company and may delay it's response to any such request. The American gov't can and should support American companies doing business overseas, including 'political pressure' which isn't a dirty term as the article implied. Norway's decision to buy the latest fighter from a fellow NATO country isn't surprising considering many NATO countries have done likewise. The American decision not to boast prematurely before the deal is finalized is simply smart business, and if they were in a similar situation, I'm sure the Swedish decision would've been the same.
09:40 December 3, 2010 by pcgomes
"Political pressure" is a nice term to "deceive" in this case. In stead of trying to be a commercial partner towards Norway, the cables clearly shows that USA intentions are to manipulate the process. Not to enter on a bet and try to win it by presenting the best solution.

In other words, they do what they always condemn on others.
10:07 December 3, 2010 by bolababu
Analysts around the world in their reviews have favoured the Gripen over the F-35 repeatedly but Norway still goes ahead to buy the American F-35. In this case over-stepping regional and Nordic interests. America obviously rules don't they?
10:09 December 3, 2010 by ontheball
And of course, Swedish organisations are never that deceitful or two-faced..
10:20 December 3, 2010 by calebian22

Best comment

As for which is better there is no consensus on which is best. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses.
10:21 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
This is old news. There has already been an Uppdrag Granskning episode about it + much press coverage.

Also, when it comes to duplicity the Swedes can't complain. There is quite some evidence of bribery being used to sell the plane to other countries (this was featured in another Uppdrag Granskning episode).

Military sales are a dirty business for everybody concerned : the company, the government of the seller and the goverment .of the buyer
10:57 December 3, 2010 by Keith #5083

I totally agree with you. Evidence is evidence, it doesn't change. However, it appears the decision to prosecute does change, regardless of evidence or lack of it - "1 Sep 2010 A top Swedish prosecutor decided on Wednesday to reopen a probe into rape suspicions against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange" (quote from this newspaper).

Clearly the decision to reopen the case has no relationship with the recent publications from Wikileaks or the ones in July. (cough!)
14:43 December 3, 2010 by rba
> The American gov't can and should support American companies doing business overseas,

Maybe, but then it should stop crying when other countries violate the "free market principles" that apparently aren't so important. For example, a lot of US congressmen are crying about China's currency manipulation, I guess that shouldn't be taken so seriously since it's just China supporting their own businesses.

The best thing about these leaks is that they give a chance for more people to be informed about backroom deals.
15:20 December 3, 2010 by Nomark

You seem to be unhappy that America is behaving in a hypocritical way. Can you name a country which isn't hypocritical and self-serving ? I've wracked my brain and I can't think of such a country. If there is one, it certainly isn't Sweden (despite its "good guy" PR).

Regarding the backroom deals, as mentioned earlier this was all exposed some time ago (eg http://svt.se/2.111325/1.1571663/experter_usa_utpressade_norge_att_kopa_jsf). In fact, given the hype which preceded the leaks, they've actually been a bit of a let-down. So far I've seen nothing which I didn't know or couldn't trivially guess.

If the wikileaks revelations really came as a surprise to you, perhaps its a sign that you should pay a bit more attention to the news.
15:21 December 3, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
more grease to wikileak isn't it?
15:41 December 3, 2010 by notpresto
I was going to be constructive but had to click on the sunbathing girls living longer article. Now thats news!
15:55 December 3, 2010 by rba
Nomark stop being an idiot. I did not say that other countries are better, and I most definitely didn't say this came as a surprise.

You should enroll in a reading comprehension course.
16:19 December 3, 2010 by Nomark

Sorry - nothing wrong with my reading comprehension...

Your post focused on America's hypocricy. Specifically you wrote "it should stop crying when other countries violate the "free market principles" that apparently aren't so important.". This is cheap anti-American rhetoric - you're asking for America to stop behaving like any self-interested state i.e. this is utterly imposible. It was pertintent to remind you of this.

Regarding the old news bit, I don't see the point of everyone whinging about this now since its old news and has already been discussed in the media many times. A possibly erroneous assumption was that you didn't know about it. However, if I had to make a guess I'd say I was probably right in my assumption that you didn't know prior to the leak and it was pertinent to point out where more information about the "scandal" could be obtained. If indeed you hadn't seen the program then I at least provided a useful link for you (and anybody else). Instead of whinging about my supposed idiocy (I'll add that to the list of ad hominem comments I've got from erudite local-posters) you should be grateful that I've given more useful source material about this issue.
16:21 December 3, 2010 by rba
@Nomark: Again, reading comprehension.

I didn't say America should stop being self interested. I said they should stop complaining when other countries act in self interest, if they aren't willing to abide by the free market principles that they claim to be in favor of.

Geez is it that hard to read?
16:32 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
It is self-interested to be a hypocrite and complain about other countries doing something which adversely affects a given country.

A definition of self-interest: "concern for your own interests and welfare". That's precisely what America is doing when complaining about China's currency manipulation.
16:33 December 3, 2010 by jbkulp
And I'm sure that Norway being a member of NATO--a military one--and Sweden is not had nothing to do with it did it? According to this article the US didn't do anything that every other country in the world selling its goods and services doesn't do.
16:33 December 3, 2010 by Nomark

Perhaps it isn't so appropriate for you to lecture me on reading comprehension. At least I seem to know the definitions of the words I use.
16:47 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
@jbkulp According to uppdrag granskning, there was an informal understanding that Norway would purchase the US-made planes as part of the whole "NATO deal" i.e. that America spends a lot of money providing security for Norway. This isn't unreasonable.
16:54 December 3, 2010 by jbkulp
@Nomark And probably true. Not an unreasonable tradeoff. That's one of the reasons you participate in an alliance after all. To help out each other.
18:15 December 3, 2010 by RobinHood

This a quote from a Nomark post to me a couple of days ago. I pulled him up for his hipocracy then. He does have a bit of a track record for this sort of thing I'm afraid.

""Don't twist what I've written here …. stick to what I've written not what you would have liked me to have written."
18:44 December 3, 2010 by nilwik
Those darn weasel. But the good thing though is when we invade Norway to steal their oil, we shoot down those girlish F35 like hot air balloons. :) hehe.
19:39 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
@Robinhood -

I stand by everything I've ever written. If anybody wishes to me to clarify anything I've written then fine I'll do so.

Now, you talk of you "pulling me up", which is another distortion. Indeed, I asked you several times to please explain why you labelled me a hypocrite over the issue of me supposedly believing that JA's innocence must be proven. The best you did was cut and paste the end of one sentence and put it together with the beginning of another one - quite a distortion. It is annoying, though not unsurprising, when someone does this. Its even more irritating when they are so smug as to believe they actually made a rational point.

Since you believe "you pulled me up on this" it must be trivial for you to demonstrate that I am indeed a hypocrite. A single quote (though not one which is distorted in the style described above) showing that I think JA's innocence should be proven should do the trick.

Evidence, please - you made the allegation now back it up.
20:00 December 3, 2010 by aoi
Norway is the looser here.

Their oil-production is on decline. They are desperate in finding business in other sectors. Saab was a great chance for them. One of few international-size hi-tech companies with HQ not far from Oslo.

But I guess the fear of the Russians and the US pressure just got too heavy for them...

Saab have business elsewhere and are profitable. Norway needed them more than vice-versa.
20:06 December 3, 2010 by Nomark

You chose to go ad hominem. Please provide the evidence I've requested. I shan't ask again - I've only asked on this thread since you've chosen to slur again. However, I think its extremely weak to jump in on a thread, rubbish someone else and then disappear.

Evidence, please. Where on earth did I write that JA's innocence must be proven ? Another slur was that I have a casual attitude to facts. Please provide one specific example of this ? One could go on...

You like to slur but when you're asked to quantitatively back up what you write, you disappear. This is weak.
20:20 December 3, 2010 by Archie1954
It would behoove all governments that propose to deal with the US in business or anything else to understand clearly that that country is not run by boyscouts. Believe me, if they can best you in a deal and screw you at the same time, they will do it and enjoy themselves immensely. Their goal is to win at all costs. The winning is what is important and not how you play the game. It would be difficult to attempt to be as devious as Americans as they have so much experience at it. You just have to decide first whether dealing with them is worthg the trouble to begin with. Norway may be very sorry that it picked an American figher plane because the first time its foreign policy deviates from America's it may find that its spare parts for the planes just can't seem to be available when it needs them.
20:34 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
On the contrary Trowbridge, its much simpler than that. One poster has written rubbish about me on several threads. Before I let it go I wish to ask him to justify what he said. It should be easy to provide the relevant quote on JA and list a relevant fact I supposedly had a casual attitude to.

I hope he tries to provide the evidence he thinks exists. There is too much speculation and name calling on this forum and not enough scrutiny of facts.

There are, interestingly enough, similarities with a recent exchange I had with you. I asked you on several occasions to provide evidence that myself, the Nine + God knows who else are engaged in a conspiracy against you. You made the accusation of us being conspirators but failed to provide the evidence when requested.
20:45 December 3, 2010 by nilwik
Trowbridge H. Ford

Do not call paranoid just because I know that everyone wants to get to me. ;)
20:53 December 3, 2010 by Cakid
From Sweden's defence minister Sten Tolgfors:

I do not share all the views that Norway had, but I respect self-evident that it is up to the customer to choose the plan that it thought best for their needs."

Sounds like a smart man looking not at the last loss, but laying the ground for the next win.
22:37 December 3, 2010 by Nomark
Trowbridge - I have never expected JA to prove his innocence. Please show me where I have ever stated this. Robinhood alleged this as well. The best he did was take two sentences I'd written, ignore the start section of one and the end section of the other and try to show how the remaining words could be interpreted as a demand that JA's innocence must be shown. This was an entirely intellectually dishonest approach (the full sentences gave a very different meaning) which is equivalent to randomly taking words I've written and arranging them to form a sentence of one's choosing. Can either of you please do better than this and actually show that I think that JA's innocence must be proven ? I've written enough on this topic - which are the incriminating posts ?

Regarding the conspiracy that myself, the Nine etc. are allegedly involved in, it is utterly irrelevant if you are increasingly convinced of this.. What is this stuff about the Daily Express and how does it show we are in a conspiracy ? Please supply the evidence.

You made two allegations - please back each of them up with evidence and not speculation. Also, please quit with the ad hominem comments ("you really are a very dirty guy" etc.).
01:02 December 4, 2010 by waffen
Norway bought an inferior AC.

Sell the Gripen to Russia, and form a military alliance with Russia.

Merkel is not happy about the Euro, so who knows what next that Germany might do because they could form a political, economic, expecially for winter fuel oil, and possibly a military alliance as well, with Russia.

Germany has the brains to match and exceed any radar system that the United States can produce, as they have proven again and again with all of their military material.

Now that cheney did not get his war using their lackey, Georgia, the oil routes and their accesses are still in flux, so Putin used his brain, and cheney doesn't have one to use.

Gerhard Schroeder was helping Putin in the Russian oil ministry a few years ago, so who knows where that might yet lead.

Politics and oil make for strange bed-fellows, as the U.S. / Norway deal has shown.
03:22 December 4, 2010 by repat_xpat
Poor innocent Sweden. Always the victim of US aggression. And Swedes are so much smarter than Americans. How could this continue to happen?
04:13 December 4, 2010 by MikeSar
If Norway was located far away in some other part of the world and they chose an airplane with poor visibility, no proven development efforts, high risk technical issues and the highest cost of any competing airplane.... I would say some "banana republic nepotism or shady deal".

But, comparing the long lineage of the Gripen with proven success and compared with the total failure of ALL previous vertical take-off airplanes, with the sole exception of the British Harrier, the choice was obvious. Even the Harrier would have been a better choice than the F-35 -still is. The Harrier can carry the ASEA radar and long range supersonic anti-aircraft rockets.

Now, that the Netherlands is backing away and the Brits are backing off and USAF is not going to use the Marine version... What do you think Italy will do when the higher prices come out, due to reduced production. Yes, Israel is going to get 20 more but, they are all for free, what does that prove?

Even Hawker/Beechcraft and Boeing are selling competitive old designs of turboprop close support airplanes that are 15 times cheaper. Yes, the F-35 is blind to radar but we all know the Taliban has no radar. And, yes, it is supersonic but the Taliban has no jets. To me, the worse aspect is its vulnerability to a long range rifle shot. All other close support aircraft carry armor, to my knowledge the F-35 does not. Too heavy?

Finally, one last detail, suppose Afghanistan needs close air support aircraft, will USAF let them have the F-35s? No way, we will probably hand over the Boeing OV-10X Bronco, A-10 Thunderbolt II or the OH-64 Attack helicopter (one of them landed on the Afghan mountains and rescued a fighter pilot survivor, impossible for the F-35), oh yes, the rescued pilot rode on the outside wing.

Only the political repercussions of laying off workers keeps the monstrosity of a design in play. It only proves that if you have enough money you can convince a lot of people in a lot of ways of anything. Even medicine, like they did in the US in the mid 1800s, by hucksters.

In American Political terms the F-35 is just a "make-work" project, something the US did in the 1930s, a massive project, the WPA, (Work Project Admin?) that kept millions working for years.

The F-35 is proving much too costly, I will be very much surprised if Secretary of Defense Gates does not cancel this project. Politically speaking, more can be gained than will be lost by redirecting the funds to build High Speed Trains for cargo, like Presidential Candidate Obama promised in his campaign. Well, maybe he did not actually promise, if you know what I mean?
09:24 December 4, 2010 by Just_Kidding
#2 said: "...The USA has no duty to export the AESA radar system to a Swedish company and may delay it's response to any such request..."

Yes, you are right, but now we know how American's play their games... the next time a Swedish company needs a critical component, it will look somewhere else or start development at home.
11:27 December 4, 2010 by Nomark

Taking two of your points (at random)..

Repeatedly calling someone "sh*t slinger" is ridiculous in my opinion. do you seriously regard me pointing this out as being evidence of a conspiracy ????

Regarding my avoiding the question of "...supposedly believing that JA's innocence must be proven" when RobinHood referred to ..." a quote from a Nomark post to me a couple of days ago." I supposedly begged the question by complaining about his putting two of my sentences together. I complained about a distortion -putting random words together to twist the sentences into a meaning they clearly didn't carry. Do you not think its obvious that if I complain about someone alleging that I don't hold to the principle "innocent until proven guilty"then it implies that this is a principle to which I adhere ? What are you going on about ?

I asked for two pieces of evidence for your allegations that

(1) I am in league with the Nine etc. in a conspiracy against you. The best you can come up with is that I deplore your personal attacks on him and don't think he is lying in one of his posts. How is this evidence of a conspiracy ? This is the normal expression of my point of view on a given topic.

(2) that I "expected him [JA] to prove his innocence". Nowhere have I ever said or implied that. Indeed everything I've written points to the opposite conclusion i.e. that a prosecutor must prove case. The best you can come up with is that I complain vigorously about someone distorting my words.

Please, provide some *evidence* for your assertions.
13:02 December 4, 2010 by Baldeagle 11
Any in depth research of the USA's use of mutial NATO relationships in arms contracts shows that NATO is among other matters a very susccessful USA military sales organisation, and a Non-NATO supplier like Sweden has little chance of selling to NATO nations, particularly as NATO may also hold concerns about the future corporate ownership and control of Saab!

As for the supporters of WIKILEAKS co-founders guilt or otherwise in alleged serious crimes in Sweden, the fact that the complaintants have not yet disclosed either their identity or the actual criminal act details may seem more than unfair to those who do not understand Swedens legal system?
15:25 December 4, 2010 by Nomark

You assert that RH was correct and that my post contained what he claimed. In that case why don't you just quote it here ? All I've ever asked is that someone reprints the allegedly incriminating quote in full and without removing key words in order to distort the meaning. This illustrates my point about providing evidence instead of opinions. Provide the evidence - cut and paste it, its simple!

Regarding my alleged relationship with the Nine, please provide the evidence. The fact I didn't comment on the fact he attacked you is not evidence. I'm not the site's policeman. Is this really the best you can do in coming with the evidence that I'm in a conspiracy against you ? The alternative hypothesis (which is the reality) is that we both ask the same thing of you i.e. evidence to support your claims and this makes you angry

You've alleged that I have a bias in dealing with matters of evidence. This is surprising since all I've ever asked for is evidence. Give me a specific example where I've shown a bias ? Asking a question about the provenance and reliability of evidence is not showing a bias btw, its simply good practice when dealing with a claim. If the evidence is sound then the person making the claim should be delighted to demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the evidence. If, instead, they just get angry and start name-calling that is revealing in itself.

The simplest and most obvious way to prove me a hypocrite who shows a bias when dealing with evidence is to reprint my quote which allegedly shows that I think JA's innocence must be proven rather than the onus being on the prosecution. So stop the name-calling ("dirty guy"," liar") please and provide the evidence - cut and past the quote. It can be found here: http://www.thelocal.se/30532/20101201/ . What are you waiting for ? This is your golden chance to actually provide unambiguous evidence that I'm a liar. The request also goes out to RH who, like you, has made a number of slurs but curiously has not backed up any of them with evidence.
15:31 December 4, 2010 by Marc the Texan
Support Wikileaks people. It is making the world a better place. I'm serious.
17:00 December 4, 2010 by motti
Nothing new here. You have now learned that countris do not have friends, only perceived interests. I srael faced similar probelsm exporting to other countries because of parts made in the USA. The Lavi was a fantastic airoplane built in conjunction with an American manufacturer. Unfortunately, it was a far better plane than the F16 and therefore the USA decided to stop some funding. Still, if Sweden wants to buy the latest merkava tank, a real world beater, aah, I forgot, that will infuriate your left wingers.
11:28 December 5, 2010 by HowSwedeitis
"We must continue to act..." That phrase speaks volumes.

11:50 December 5, 2010 by Nomark

Can you name a single country now or at any time in human history which doesn't act in its own selfish interests and which doesn't practice deceit ?

Your post speaks volumes.......

@Memphis Swede

Sure the Americans were deceitful. So were the Swedes when they used bribes to get rid of some gripen planes and in the events leading up to the Bofors scandal. So, in fact, is every other country when its got something to sell in a competitive environment. To focus on America is plain daft.

Are you really surprised by this ???? You shouldn't be - this particular "scandal" involving Norway's plane purchase is actually very old news.
07:53 December 6, 2010 by schmuck281
To slightly misquote Lord Palmerston: "Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests."

Individuals can be friends but nations can only look out for the interests of their people. Family before friends.

Look how quickly Spain left Iraq after the train bombings. They still consider the US as their friends, but it more in their interests to capitulate to the demands of the bombers than it was to stick with the US.
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