ZURICH, Aug 27 (Reuters) - A Swiss parliamentary committee backed Switzerland’s buy of 22 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden’s Saab, clearing a major hurdle for the $3.4 billion deal, Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported, citing unnamed sources.
“The security committee voted in favour of the Gripen figher jet purchase with 14 to 9 votes,” Tages-Anzeiger said on its website on Tuesday.
The security committee’s secretary declined to comment on the report ahead of a media briefing scheduled to begin at 1400 GMT.
The lower house of parliament will discuss the deal on September 11. It is likely to follow the committee’s recommendation, but even if both houses of parliamant approve the deal it can still be derailed by a popular referendum.
Switzerland, which hasn’t fought an international war for 200 years, wants the Gripen jets to replace its aging Northrop F-5 Tiger fighters, a move unpopular with some because it will require cost cuts in other areas, such as education.
Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz