SAAB AIRCRAFT HAS signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hungary, covering the "evaluation and possible procurement" of the JAS39 Gripen multi-role lightweight fighter. The Swedish sales effort is being couched as part of a wide-ranging industrial co-operation agreement with Hungary.

Hungary is due to decide by the middle of 1996 on which manufacturer will supply around 30 fighters to replace ageing Russian-supplied aircraft. Pilots from the Hungarian air force are already evaluating the aircraft at Saab's base at Linkoping. France, Russia and the USA are also pushing strongly for the sale.

The MoU, which involves the Wallenberg group of Swedish companies, details many other areas of potential industrial co-operation, which, according to Saab, "...could be part of any offset we offer to Hungary for the Gripen". The company adds, however, that Wallenberg has made it clear that "...any industrial agreement must be able to stand on its own".

Saab will work with British Aerospace to promote the Gripen in Hungary, following the marketing agreement signed between the two in June. "British Aerospace will ensure that the Gripen meets the Hungarian requirement for a totally NATO-compatible aircraft," says Saab.

The Swedish company, which is working hard to interest other Eastern European countries in the Gripen, will not comment on the weapons package being offered.

Source: Flight International