Swedish government OKs purchase of 60 Saab Gripen jets

STOCKHOLM Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:15am EST

STOCKHOLM Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Swedish government has given its armed forces the go-ahead to order 60 next-generation fighter jets from defence firm Saab, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

The Swedish parliament last year agreed that the armed forces buy between 40 and 60 of the new JAS 39 E jets.

"It's a historic decision that will secure Swedish fighter capacity for a long time ahead," Defence Minister Karin Enstrom said in a statement.

Switzerland, with which Sweden is sharing some of the development costs for the new jet, plans to place an order but hasn't made a firm decision yet.

"There is in the government's decision a possibility to cancel (the order) if Switzerland or another country doesn't order," defence ministry spokesman Henrik Hedberg said.

The first planes are due to be delivered in 2018, he said. (Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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