Swiss Parliament Committee Votes to Suspend Gripen Jet Purchase

The Swiss Parliament’s Defense Committee has voted to suspend the purchase of 22 Saab AB (SAABB) Gripen aircraft, asking the government for additional information.

“We are putting the Gripen deal on hold until some important questions are answered and the definitive agreement is available,” Beat Flach, a lawmaker for the Green Liberal party and member of the committee, said on his Twitter Inc. feed today. A spokeswoman for the Defense Ministry confirmed the outcome of the vote, declining to comment further.

Switzerland plans to spend about 3.1 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion) on the planes made by Saab, based in Linkoeping south of Stockholm, to replace aging Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) F-5 Tigers. Today’s vote is the second parliamentary setback for the acquisition, after the upper house last month failed to approve funding.

The purchase is controversial because it requires spending cuts in other areas, as a balanced budget is enshrined in Switzerland’s constitution. The Gripen deal may also face a national referendum.

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. has written a letter to parliament offering to supply Switzerland with Eurofighters for 1.5 billion francs, Blick newspaper reported today, without saying where it got the information. That follows a similar overture by Dassault Aviation SA (AM) in January, according to Sonntagszeitung. Both companies lost to Saab in the initial bidding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Bosley in Zurich at cbosley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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