EADS could offer Swiss alternative to Saab Gripen jet-paper

ZURICH Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:44am EDT

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ZURICH Aug 26 (Reuters) - EADS is prepared to offer Switzerland 33 Eurofighter jets built in 2003 with a price tag of 3.2 billion Swiss francs ($3.28 billion) to replace its fleet of ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Swiss government opted last November to buy 22 JAS-39 Gripens from Saab at a cost of 3.1 billion francs, over rival bids for the Rafale built by France's Dassault Aviation and EADS' Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter Typhoon.

But the purchase decision has proved controversial due to concerns about the Gripen's yet-to-be-developed technologies, possible cost overruns, and concomitant budget cuts in areas such as education.

The Swiss parliament is expected to vote on the purchase in coming months, and the head of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) indicated in a newspaper report that his party was unlikely to support the purchase, which could scupper the Swiss side of the deal.

The paper Der Sonntag said the EADS planes came from the German air force and were in excellent condition.

"EADS is always able to make offers within Switzerland's budget framework," the newspaper quoted a spokesman for the aircraft maker as saying. ($1 = 0.9752 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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