Sweden clinches Thai Air Force deal
The Thai Air Force has announced plans to buy 12 Swedish-made JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft, in a deal worth some 573 million US dollars –sparking sharp criticism here in Sweden.
Saab is due to supply the first six aircraft between 2008 and 2012, with a decision on the delivery of the second six to be made later in the year.
However, the Swedish peace movement and the Swedish section of Amnesty International are sharply critical – claiming that the deal violates Sweden’s ban on selling weapons to a military dictatorship and where there is an internal conflict.
Russia’s Sukoi Su-30 and the US-made F-16 were also in the running for the contract, with critics claiming that the American aircraft would have been prefered – but that export restrictions knocked it out of the competition.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt welcomed the deal and news Thailand is to hold democratic elections in December.
The Swedish Air Force has ordered 200 Gripen, 142 of which have been delivered. South Africa has bought 28 of the aircraft, and Hungary and the Czech Republic have each leased 14.