Fighter jets for the High North
“It is as Swedish as it gets, and it might well be the finest fighter plane in the world", aircraft manufacturer SAAB says about its JAS Gripen jets. In one month, the Norwegian government will announce whether to buy 48 of the Swedish-made aircrafts or not.
Norway will take a decision on the issue on 19 December. The preference of the JAS Gripen will could be a major boost for Norwegian-Swedish industrial cooperation. A positive decision on the Swedish aircraft could eventually also give a boost to the strengthening of Nordic defence cooperation.
The High North will be a vital area of operation for the new fighter planes. Defence Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen in her speech at a press conference on late April this year, said that “We need a combat aircraft that can meet the particular requirements of a country where few people live on a large territory, with vast sea areas to look after, and with many of its key interests related to the security developments in the high north”.
Standing in front of a map of the Arctic, the defence minister highlighted that Norway considers the jets “a key component of a future-oriented, robust, and network-based Norwegian armed force”.
The Nordic countries have commissioned former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg to write a report on the future of Nordic defence cooperation. The report, which is to be presented in the course of the year, could include the aircraft aspect. Also Denmark considers to buy Swedish jets.
-Should for example Denmark and Holland, which are many year NATO members with long cooperation with Norway, choose Gripen, there are preconditions for joint solutions, SAAB representative Lennart Sindahl says to Aftenposten.
Over the last year, the Swedish company has toured Norway and visited more than 400 Norwegian companies. A number of industrial cooperation deals have been concluded. A Swedish fight jet will not come alone for Norway. The aircraft could give a new era of Norwegian-Swedish industrial cooperation.