Saab’s chief executive remains hopeful about future business opportunities in Switzerland despite a May public referendum rejecting its planned deal to supply the nation with 22 next-generation Gripen E fighters.

Chief executive Hakan Buskhe, speaking at a Farnborough briefing on 14 July, said that although the Swedish manufacturer "respects" the decision to block the acquisition, it is still working with the government there.

“Basically, we are of course very open for the next step. At the same time we have full understanding and we also respect the outcome of the referendum,” he says. “We are not doing hard selling as we speak.”

Buskhe says Saab retains “extremely good relationships” with the 135 Swiss companies that had signed on to be suppliers as part of the deal. Those contracts will continue to be honoured, “provided they can keep their competitiveness”.

He says he is open to offering Switzerland the Gripen C as an alternative, to the E-model.

“Of course we are more than open and happy to supply if they see the need and it fits with the decision that the people have taken,” he says.

“Switzerland is a very important market for us, we are good friends, so let’s see.”

The Gripen Es were intended to replace the Swiss air force's fleet of aged Northrop F-5s, ahead of the planned retirement of its Boeing F/A-18s in 2025.

In the meantime Saab has secured orders for the Gripen E from Sweden, and the type was also selected by Brazil last year to meet its 36 aircraft F-X2 fighter requirement. Even without the Swiss deal, it has now sold 122 aircraft out of a projected market for 400 over the next 10 years, it says.

Source: Flight Daily News