The Swedish parliament has approved an order for a third batch of Saab JAS39 Gripen fighter-bombers.

The four-squadron order was cleared on 13 December as part of Sweden's new five-year defence strategy, but the exact number of aircraft has not yet been fixed. According to Saab, Batch 3 is likely to consist of 40-60 aircraft, to be produced between 2003 and 2006.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) says that precise numbers and equipment will be the subject of negotiations with industry over the next six months. According to Saab, the new batch will be a mixture of single-seat and two-seat JAS39B training aircraft, and a new powerplant "-may be an issue" in the forthcoming talks.

The Eurojet EJ200, the Snecma M88, or an upgraded version of the Gripen's 80kN (18,000lb)-thrust General Electric/Volvo Aero RM12 turbofan engine have all been discussed.

The last aircraft from the first batch of 30 JAS39s was handed over to FMV on the same day, followed by the first Batch 2 aircraft delivery on 19 December.

The delivery of the 30th Batch 1 aircraft completes the order agreed in June 1982 between Industriegruppen JAS and FMV. The second batch of 110 aircraft, including 14 two-seat JAS39Bs, was ordered in June 1996.

Source: Flight International