Big news. A Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger has reported that Switzerland has chosen the Saab Gripen as its next fighter, beating the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon in a three-year battle to replace its Northrop F-5s -- one of the most keenly anticipated decisions in recent European aerospace contracting. As is thunderingly obvious, the Gripen has won out over the two fighters currently in contention for India's huge M-MRCA contract. The Gripen was eliminated from the Indian competition in April this year. The Switzerland win is a crucial victory for Saab, and Switzerland will be the sixth air force in the world to operate the Gripen after Sweden, Czech Republic, South Africa, Hungary and Thailand (the UK Empire Test Pilot School also operates the Gripen).
Reports suggest that the Gripen was chosen because it was identified as the most cost-effective choice given Switzerland's severe budget constraints. Gripen's win is only another "no" to Dassault's Rafale, which some reports suggest was adjudged the best performer in field evaluations; the Typhoon competed only towards the end.
Official word from Saab: "The Swiss type-selection confirms that Saab is a market-leader in the defence and security industry and that Gripen is a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money”, says Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO Saab.
Photo: Shiv Aroor in a Gripen-D / by Stefan Kalm (Saab)
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