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Sweden, Switzerland sign Gripen pact

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Swiss Air Force test pilot Lt. Col. Fabio Antognini flying Gripen E/F in Sweden. A Saab photo.

STOCKHOLM (BNS): Sweden and Switzerland have signed a framework agreement for procurement of the next generation Gripen, according to media reports.

An AFP report quoting a Swiss government statement said, an agreement in principle had been concluded between its weapons procurement agency armasuisse and Sweden's FXM agency on the acquisition of the Saab Gripen warplanes.

Switzerland selected the Gripen E/F in November 2011 for a planned 22-aircraft deal to replace its Northrop F-5 fighters.

The Swiss Defence Ministry outlined a plan to allocate an initial Swfr300 million ($314 million) to the acquisition in 2014, as part of a fixed-price deal worth Swfr300 million ($314 million), according to a Flightglobal report.

If a deal is approved, the Swiss Air Force will receive its first 11 E-model fighters and F-model trainers between mid-2018 and 2019, with the remainder to follow within the next two years, it said.

The Swedish government plans to buy 40-60 new Gripens over the next decade at a cost of two billion kronor (242 million euros).

Swedish Defence and security company Saab has welcomed the Swedish government's announcement on the agreement. Saab has already presented the government with a tender for the next generation Gripen. The proposal will be negotiated in the Swedish parliament later this year.

Gripen is in service with the Swedish, Czech Republic, Hungarian, South African and Royal Thai Air Forces.

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