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Date set for Swiss Gripen referendum

Switzerland’s planned purchase of 22 Saab Gripen E fighters will be put to the public vote on 18 May, the nation’s Federal Council has confirmed.

Although the Gripen deal was approved by politicians late last year, the Swiss parliamentary system allows for a public referendum to be called if at least 50,000 signatures are secured opposing an action. Almost 65,400 people signed a petition against the Gripen Fund Law, the Swiss government says.

Due to be delivered after 2018, the Swiss air force’s planned Gripen fleet would serve as a replacement for its current Northrop F-5s. The service also already has an active fleet of 31 Boeing F/A-18C/Ds, operations of which are expected to continue beyond 2030.

Meanwhile, Sweden also plans to modify 60 of its Gripens to the E-model configuration, while Brazil recently selected Saab’s NG variant of the type for its F-X2 programme acquisition.

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