The Czech parliament has passed the first of three readings of the funding bill for the country's acquisition of 24 Saab/BAE Systems Gripen multirole fighters. The bill was passed by 90 votes to 73 and approves the next stage of the process, a standing committee report. The parliamentarians also voted to accelerate the approval process. The Czech Republic decided to buy the Gripen in December last year after a long search for modern NATO-standard fighters to replace Soviet-era equipment. The first aircraft are due for delivery in 2004.

Source: Flight International