Switzerland’s plan to buy 22 SAAB Gripen fighters has been voted down in a public referendum.
Held on May 18, 53.4 per cent of respondents voted to reject the proposed Gripen Fund Law, effectively bringing to a halt Swiss plans to replace its F-5E/F fleet with the Gripen.
“This decision will cause a security gap,” Swiss federal councillor, Ueli Maurer said in a statement. “We will do everything we can to fill this gap in these difficult circumstances as quickly as is possible. Different options on how best to ensure the armed force’s operational readiness must be considered in the next few months.”
In a separate statement, President and CEO of Saab, Håkan Buskhe said: “We respect the process in Switzerland and do not comment on today’s outcome in the referendum. Following selection in 2011, hundreds of business relationships in Switzerland have been created through the Swiss Industrial Participation programme, which was created in relation to the Gripen E procurement.”
Switzerland had selected the JAS-39E/F Gripen, an advanced development of the in-service JAS-39C/D. The E/F is currently in development for service with Sweden and Brazil.