The Swedish government has promised that Sweden is to buy 40-60 units of the next generation of fighter jet Jas Gripen, and is therefore increasing the Swedish Armed Forces’ budget.
The Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) will be receiving 300 million kronor ($45.5 million) extra in 2013 and 2014, and 200 million kronor extra annually after that, wrote the leaders of Sweden’s four centre-right governing parties in an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).
The party leaders wrote that Sweden and Switzerland, in need of 22 aircraft, have teamed up to buy the Jas Gripen E/F, or Super-Jas.
According to the government, the new system will be up and running in Sweden from 2023 and at least 20 years after that.
The party leaders wrote that this partnership with Switzerland makes the system more cost efficient. The alternative, buying foreign aircraft, has been analyzed, but the new generation of Jas Gripen has been deemed more efficient for several reasons, they claimed.
But not everyone looks happily upon this deal.
“We have a defense which is walking on crutches, and if we force it to carry a great deal of the cost of new Jas Gripens, it’ll crash,” said the Green Party MP Peter Rådberg to news agency TT.
The total cost is still kept secret, something Rådberg is highly critical of.
“The 300 million kronor that the government is adding to next year’s budget is small change in these circumstances. We calculate that the developmental costs will be a couple of billion kronor per year, and the government has still said nothing about how to finance the defense’s other areas.”
Rådberg says that the partnership with Switzerland is no defense project, but rather a labour and industry politics project.
“If you’re buying war planes, it’s only logical to reassess the threat scenario, and discuss whether its motivated to put so much money on fighter jets, but the government isn’t talking about threats, but rather about work opportunities and Swedish export.”
The Social Democrats have said previously that a deal with another country is a prerequisite for discussing upgrading Jas Gripen.
“We’re basically positive to this deal, which creates a base for the Swedish discussion of upgrading Swedish air defense,” said Social Democratic MP Peter Hultqvist.
He didn’t want to say whether the 300 million kronor extra would be sufficient, however.
“This is something we’ll be discussing with the government and in our party’s internal budget discussions.”
TT/The Local/cg (firstname.lastname@example.org)