STOCKHOLM, April 2 Defence group Saab
on Tuesday pledged to find Swiss suppliers for major components
of its Gripen jet as it sought to sweeten a potential deal to
sell the fighter to Switzerland.
Sweden's Saab said it would find Swiss companies to develop,
produce and assemble components including the rear fuselage,
tail cone and weapons pylons of the aircraft, business that in
total was worth about 200 million Swiss francs ($211 million).
The upper house of the Swiss parliament earlier this month
halted the country's 3 billion euro purchase of 22 Gripen
fighter jets, approving the deal in principle but voting against
the financing package it requires.
Saab's decision would boost the share of business allotted
to Swiss firms, which Saab has already pledged will amount to
100 percent of the value of the Swiss contract, as it would also
involve overseas deliveries.
The company said the components to be produced in
Switzerland related both to the Gripen E jets that might be
ordered by the Swiss and to the 60 fighters that have already
been ordered by the Swedish military.
"Swiss industry participation is not limited to the Swedish
and potential Swiss aircraft, but includes future orders of
Gripen E," Saab said in a statement.
"The transfer of knowledge will provide the companies with
the skills and competence to compete for major orders from other
aircraft manufacturers in the civil and defence sectors."
The Gripen fighters would replace Switzerland's aging
Northrop F-5 Tiger fighters, a move unpopular with some because
it will require spending cuts in other areas such as education.
"We are currently in discussions with Swiss companies,
including small and medium-sized enterprises, throughout all
regions of Switzerland," said Lennart Sindahl, head of Saab's
business area Aeronautics.
($1 = 0.9479 Swiss francs)
(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Louise Heavens)