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Sweden to lend Gripen fighters to Switzerland

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Sweden to lend Gripen fighters to Switzerland
16:05 CEST+02:00
Sweden could loan a fleet of Gripen fighter jets to Switzerland as it awaits delivery of the craft's next generation model, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said on Friday.

Bern announced in November its intention to buy 22 Saab Gripen E/F fighter jets to replace its ageing US F-5 fighter fleet in an estimated 3.1 billion Swiss franc ($3.3 billion) deal.

The E/F is still under development and Sweden could loan Switzerland about 10 of the current C/D model in the meantime.

Maurer made the announcement on Friday after a two-day meeting with his Swedish counterpart Karin Enström, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

"The Ministers have stated the intentions of their Governments to jointly explore synergies regarding acquisition, programme management, testing, training, logistics, operations and future upgrades of the Gripen weapon system," reads the statement of intent signed Friday by the two ministers.

"The Ministers also declared their intention to jointly explore and bring forward proposals for increased bilateral security-oriented cooperation."

The loan would allow pilots to get trained up and avoid the costly upkeep of the F-5.

The Gripen, not available before 2020, was selected over the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter, sparking much debate in the Swiss parliament which has yet to give the purchase the green light.

A referendum will also likely be held on the deal.

AFP/The Local

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