Saab to defence clients: ‘See first – Kill first’

An aggressive marketing campaign from Swedish defence firm Saab is extolling the virtues of weapons that help users to ”see first – kill first” and can be adjusted to focus specifically on ”soft targets”.

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

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.

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

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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.