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Switzerland opt for Saab's Gripen fighter jets to replace F-5 3011111.

| 2011
World Air Force News - Switzerland
Switzerland opt for Saab's Gripen fighter jets to replace F-5.
Switzerland has chosen to replace its F-5 fighter jet fleet with Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources close to the government.

Switzerland has decided against buying the Dassault Rafale or Eurofighter. While the Rafale is the only aircraft that has exceeded the Swiss Air Force minimum requirements, the Gripen was the cheapest offer and therefore was selected by the Federal Council.

Neutral Switzerland has wrangled for the past three years over whether to replace its ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.

The newspaper said the cost of purchasing 22 jets would be about 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion), 1 billion less than the same number of rival models would cost.

Saab is competing against Boeing Co.s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Rafale jet for orders in Brazil, and the company is also pursuing order from Croatia and Bulgaria. The Gripen was eliminated in April from the six-way contest to replace Indias aging fleet of MiG-21s, along with the F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin Corp.s F-16.

The Gripen has struggled to win export business in recent years. Norway dealt Saab a blow in 2008 with a contract for 48 Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighters after analysts predicted the Gripen would win. Work on Gripens for South Africa and Thailand runs out in 2012.

For Dassault, losing out in Switzerland further dims the export prospects for its Rafale combat jet, which so far has failed to win a single buyer beyond the French government. Eurofighter has also scaled back output of its aircraft as demand drops.

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