Switzerland has opted to acquire 22 Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NGs in its long-running F-5 Tiger replacement program, says Swiss defense minister Ueli Maurer.
Gripen beat out the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon -- Boeing withdrew the F/A-18E/F early from the competition.
The arrangement is a big setback for Dassault, which was hoping to finally secure its first export deal for Rafale. Eurofighter also was hoping to convince Switzerland to join the family, since Italy, Austria and Germany already fly the aircraft.
Switzerland also examined an F-5 extension, but that was deemed too expensive.
All three main contenders met the requirements put forward by the services. But the Gripen had several advantages, Maurer says, including price, which leaves money for other military needs.
The Gripen had both the lowest acquisition costs and lower 30 year life cycle cost, by far, says Maurer. The procurement program is likely to cost less than 3 billion Swiss francs.
Moreover, Switzerland liked the potential for industrial cooperation on offer from Saab.
Maurer acknowledges the Swedish fighter may not be the highest end technical option on offer, but he says it is a good fit for Switzerland and technically meets the country's needs.
Switzerland and Sweden will now refine the program in the coming months.
All three bidders provided good offset packages that were essentially equivalent. The industrial participation package was also attractive across the board, the Swiss say.
Here is Dassault's reaction:
The team RAFALE has duly noted the choice of the Swiss Authorities regarding the acquisition of their future fighter aircraft. The team regrets that the Swiss Federal Council - as it has officially stated - has "knowingly decided not to position Switzerland at the highest European level as regards the performance of the new fighter aircraft".
The RAFALE's capacities would enable the Swiss Confederation to meet its operational requirements with a smaller number of aircraft at an equivalent or lower cost, as was demonstrated during the assessments by the Swiss Air Force.
The "Swiss-tailored" GRIPEN only exists on paper. Its technical development and production risk significantly increasing the financial efforts required of the Swiss Authorities to accomplish the country's fighter aircraft program.
RAFALE INTERNATIONAL extends its sincere thanks the 250 Swiss companies that took part in its industrial partnership project in the 26 cantons of the Swiss Confederation.