RPT-Swiss opt for Saab's Gripen fighter jets - paper

Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:00pm IST

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ZURICH Nov 30 (Reuters) - Switzerland has chosen to replace its fighter jet fleet with Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources close to the government.

Neutral Switzerland has wrangled for the past three years over whether to replace its ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.

Saab shares were up 8.5 percent to 117.10 Swedish crowns by 1345 GMT after the newspaper report.

The newspaper said the cost of purchasing 22 jets would be about 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion), 1 billion less than the same number of rival models would cost.

In September, the Swiss lower house of parliament approved a 5 billion francs defence budget for 2013 to finance a 100,000 strong army and the purchase of new fighter jets.

Other bidders included the Rafale built by french company Dassault Aviation and EADS's Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter Typhoon. ($1 = 0.9207 Swiss franc) (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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