ZURICH Aug 25 The head of Switzerland's Free
Democrats (FDP) indicated that his party is unlikely to support
the planned purchase of 22 Gripen jets from Saab, a
newspaper reported on Saturday, which may scupper the 3.1
billion Swiss franc ($103.82 million)deal.
Switzerland's parliament is expected to vote on the
controversial purchase to replace aged Northrop F-5E/F Tiger
fighters, in October. In order for it to pass, the pro-business
FDP must back it.
In response to a question by the Neue Zuercher Zeitung on
whether the FDP would pull the plug on the deal, party president
Philipp Mueller said:
"At least, we're about to do so. It has been known for some
time that there are a lot of question marks surrounding the
Mueller cited questions about the yet to be developed
technologies used in the jets and the chance of cost overruns as
reasons to object to the purchase.
The government opted last November to buy 22 JAS-39 Gripens.
But the decision is unpopular with some because it will require
spending cuts in other areas, such as education.
The issue of buying the jets may also be put to a
"We will fight for a good, effective and financially viable
fighter plane," he said. "Given our knowledge today, the Gripen
doesn't fulfill the requirements to succeed with the people."
($1 = 0.9632 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Hugh Lawson)