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US firm pitches ‘budget' jets for Swiss air force

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Photo: Textron Airland
10:18 CEST+02:00
American company Textron Airland is bidding to sell its “budget” Scorpion jets to the Swiss government at one-seventh the cost of Swedish Gripen fighter planes turned down by voters in Switzerland this month.

“The Scorpion is ideally suited to Switzerland’s circumstances,” Textron Airland president Bill Anderson is quoted as telling Tages Anzeiger in a report this week.

“It is cheaper than the Gripen and still meets 90 percent of the tasks at hand,” Anderson said.

“We could offer the jet to Switzerland for less than $20 million.”

Swiss voters on May 18th shot down a deal approved by the government to buy 22 Gripen fighter jets from Saab for 3.1 billion francs ($3.5 billion).

The planes were to replace the Swiss air force’s ageing fleet of 54 F-5 Tiger aircraft to defend Switzerland’s air space.

Textron Airland’s Scorpion, first shown in Europe at air shows in Britain last summer, is not a supersonic fighter like the Gripen and is not intended to be, according to the manufacturer.

The “multi-mission tactical military jet” is designed to be an affordable option for air forces to provide air space surveillance and intelligence.

Anderson said most air force planes only conduct those kinds of tasks on a day to day basis, according to Tages Anzeiger.

The company, a joint venture between Textron and Airland Enterprises, indicated it hopes to sell 2,000 of the Scorpion aircraft to air forces around the world.

“It’s economic, convenient and flexible,” Anderson said.

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Textron, the world’s largest supplier of business jets, also produces Bell helicopters and drones.

The Swiss department of defence is not commenting on the Scorpion proposal, noting that no official offer for the jets had been made.

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