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Saab to defence clients: 'See first - Kill first'

TT/The Local/po · 9 Apr 2012, 13:29

Published: 09 Apr 2012 13:29 GMT+02:00

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At a weapons fair in Qatar in late March, the company informed potential buyers that its Gripen fighter planes guaranteed a high ”death ratio”, newspaper Expressen reports.

In its marketing materials, the firm also boasts that its Bill 2 anti-tank guided weapon contains a ”soft target mode” that can be used to hone in on civilian houses, cars, and groups of people.

Asked about the JAS 39 Gripen's ”See first – Kill first” slogan, Saab spokeswoman Marie Karlsson told Expressen:

”I actually don’t know what we were thinking when we used those words. I wasn’t involved in making that judgment or taking that decision,” she said.

Pressed further, she declined to criticize the company’s choice of wording.

”We are after all a defence and security company working with defence-related products. Like any other company, we make use of marketing messages.”

But Henrik Westander at PR agency Westander Publicitet & Påverkan lamented the fact that very little appeared to have changed in the defence industry in marketing terms over the last three decades.

”I remember how [Swedish defence firm] Bofors marketed an anti-aircraft gun in the United States in the 1980s using an image of a sharp-shooting cowboy drawing both his pistols at the same time.

Story continues below…

"They wanted to give the impression that it was all a game, and it’s still like that now,” he told Expresssen.

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

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Your comments about this article

14:12 April 9, 2012 by muscle
with events like these, one wonders who is the real terrorist...
14:47 April 9, 2012 by RobinHood
I suspect Henrik Westander is actually lamenting the fact his advertsing agency was not chosen as a supplier to Saab.

Saab makes and sells militiary grade weapons; some of its products are really quite lethal - no surprise there. Advertising to potential customers that those weapons are good at killing and hurting people seems a sensible and quite normal way to sell them. No surprise there either.

Forgive me The Local, I'm struggling to see the story here. Arms company sells arms - is that it?
14:49 April 9, 2012 by BillyB
Its a company making fighter planes.

What are they supposed to say to try to sell it?

"This plane can make ice cream and fluffy bears"????? get real
15:08 April 9, 2012 by millionmileman
When a company is in the weopons busines you hope that you have the best. Because when you fight tyranny you need the best defense which is offense.
15:27 April 9, 2012 by skogsbo
Sounds like a jealous rival created a dull news article, however its all good pr for Saab.
16:16 April 9, 2012 by Strongbow
Soft targets aren't civilians because civilians are never targets.
17:22 April 9, 2012 by Trenatos
It's a weaponsystem, it doesn't make teddybears, get over it.

I'd rather have a highly efficient next generation weapons system protecting my country than not.
17:31 April 9, 2012 by bells on the knight
big deal AND as a swede i'd be very proud of my country being able to produce this advanced piece of equipment, something o nay a few nations can do.

keep it up
18:54 April 9, 2012 by muscle
To all those who support that weapons should be sold to other countries, well then they SHOULD support sale of nuclear weapons by India, Pakistan, N.Korea, and next in line probably Iran. All weapons kill people, be it drones, nukes, bullets anything!

Its all a bull to talk about weapons for peaceful purposes. If you allow some countries to sell weapons to other countries, well then other countries should be allowed to sell their weapons, be it of mass destruction or of limited destruction.
19:41 April 9, 2012 by skogsbo
Muscle, it's easy to talk the moral high ground when you live within the security of the western world, try a few extended trips to some parts of Africa, s America or Asia.
20:28 April 9, 2012 by Svensksmith
Take a late night stroll in downtown Detroit and I bet you will wish you had a weapon. Wiah it wasn't so but that's the way it is.
21:16 April 9, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ muscle

There is a concept in foreign/military action called a proportional response. An unfriendly nation seizes or destroys one of your cargo ships, you may wish to strike a few of their ships with a few missiles in retaliation, to show that you mean business.

Enabling military action with a few fighter planes is NOT the same as selling nuclear weapons.
22:53 April 9, 2012 by jack sprat

Nice to see this so called neutral pacifist country finally show it's true colours.
23:05 April 9, 2012 by Trenatos
@Jack; Actually, Sweden has never claimed to be pacifistic, just neutral.

Also; SAAB is a private company, not owned or ran by the government, as such it does not represent the Swedish government or Sweden as a country anymore than GM represents the US.

I'm proud of my country for developing and using some of the worlds most advanced weapons systems.
00:26 April 10, 2012 by jack sprat

but remember,we only make the bullets.

We want you to fire them for us, .....as many as you can please, ....don't even stop to think about it and bugger the consequences.

Our bank account and foriegn sales are the only things that really matter, apart from keeping the powers that be in Stockholm sweet of course
07:11 April 10, 2012 by entry

Watched a video stream of a UK comedian explaining how countries that cannot be trusted with 'ROCKS' because they continually stone women should not be now trusted with nuclear weapons. Wake UP!
08:49 April 10, 2012 by gpafledthis
Ha Ha Swedies ya passed muster on this one !! Especially @trenatos who refused to be labeled "pacifist" (Binky in hand)
10:16 April 10, 2012 by entry
@3:05 April 9, 2012 by Trenatos

While I have no objection to the marketing utilized by Saab it disturbs me to think that you might possibly be under some sort of disillusion that military armaments like those sold by publicly traded non-government manufacturing firms in the USA and NATO countries which are subject to strict legal approval are somehow negligent in Swedish arms trades.

Do you have some sort of secret file that indicates that Saab trades military armaments without strict Swedish government approval?

Do you think private Swedish firms sell military arms much like IKEA sells flat pack furniture to any and all who ask?
10:19 April 10, 2012 by Kevin Harris
For sale: one Swedish jet fighter. Completely safe. Contains no hazardous materials. Absolutely hopeless at taking out soft or hard targets. Fitted with a useless radar that can't see a thing. Environmentally friendly, completely recyclable. Fitted with airbags. Guaranteed to be shot out of the sky within minutes if used in anger. A perfect choice for countries that like to buy hugely expensive weapons that don't actually hurt anybody.

Saab, making future wars safe for everyone.

How's that Henrik Westander?
11:43 April 10, 2012 by EP
Whilst I agree that SAAB is a private company and does not reflect the official neutrality of Sweden, the problem lies in the fact that everyday Swedes (including SAAB workers) themselves evangelise the moral superiority of their own little country every chance they get whilst at the same time are proud that Swedish companies make killing machines. But if this article would have been about a non-Swedish company, the Swedes would scream the loudest and yet again take the moral high-ground (when it suits them) stating that "in Sweden" something like that would never happen (and yet it does as we can see ;-))
14:44 April 10, 2012 by rohermoker
The nice part about being a nuteral country is that you can sell to both sides, and always back a winner. I worked for a company 20 years ago that made the AT-4 here in Minnesota. A fine system that saved American lives in the current conflect that the US has chosen to attend. Much like cleaning my toilet-War is a dirty business, and I am glad someone does it for me.
17:20 April 10, 2012 by sunnchilde
I'm glad to see that somebody somewhere admits that they are in fact making machines that are designed to kill people. One fighter pilot I heard said "There are no innocent people in the cockpits of fighter planes."
18:15 April 10, 2012 by Trenatos
Sweden is neutral, which has *nothing* to do with being pacifistic.

SAAB and other arms developers follow strict rules, but that does still not mean that they represent Sweden as a country.

Also, Sweden is not part of NATO if anyone had that misconception.

The JAS Gripen is a next gen. higly advanced multi-role weapons system, and as every other weapons system in existance its role is to kill the people you aim it at, and it's very good at it.
02:56 April 11, 2012 by willowsdad
Yeah, it's all about "defence".
10:21 April 11, 2012 by rami_20

Strict rules set by whom? Government (read Sweden).

I thought they were part of NATO when they joined NATO to take out Gaddafi.

JAS Gripen is getting long in the tooth, certainly not a next gen. aircraft any longer. As for being "....very good at it", actually JAS has never been in combat and as far as I recall, never recorded a actual kill.
11:17 April 12, 2012 by Strongbow
"I thought they were part of NATO when they joined NATO to take out Gaddafi."

You were mistaken.

Sweden never joins any action not coming from a UN resolution, like KFOR or ISAF/EAPC, and Sweden never offer any offensive military support. Only medical or security/recon.
18:20 April 12, 2012 by sunnchilde
@Strongbow Sweden may not technically a member of NATO, but if your borders were ever under threat, you could count with an egg-timer how long it would take your Gov to go screaming to NATO for protection.
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