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Swiss stick with Sweden's Gripen to replace fighter fleet
by Staff Writers
Bern (AFP) Feb 14, 2012

The Swiss government is standing by its choice of the Gripen jet to replace its ageing fighter fleet, the defence ministry said on Tuesday, after reported military fears that the aircraft was not up to the job.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer reaffirmed his preference for the Swedish-made Gripen which he said at a conference in Bern was the best value for money.

"The plane meets technical demands, even if it isn't the most expensive aircraft on the market," said Maurer.

The Federal Council announced in November its decision to purchase 22 Gripen for an estimated 3.1 billion francs (2.6 billion euros), reportedly the cheapest of three offers.

French planemaker Dassault's Rafale and the Eurofighter, produced by the EADS consortium, were the other bidders.

"The Gripen provides the best cost-performance," said Maurer, who came under pressure after excerpts of a critical Swiss air force report appeared in the press at the weekend.

The 2009 assessment, published in Le Matin Dimanche newspaper, said tests carried out the previous year had shown the Gripen's effectiveness "remains inadequate to achieve air supremacy in the face of future threats beyond 2015."

Maurer was on Tuesday backed up by Swiss air force commander, Lieutenant General Markus Gygax, who told the conference that Saab were offering a modernised model, with improved performance.

The decision to select the Gripen is to be sent to lawmakers for final approval later this year.

Dassault has reportedly made a counter-offer undercutting the current deal, prompting Saab to review its price.

Maurer said the government had asked the French company to submit "a concrete offer" which Bern would then assess.

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Russia to sell tanks to Algeria, Turkmenistan: report
Moscow (AFP) Feb 14, 2012 - Russia has signed contracts to sell 120 T-90C tanks to Algeria and 30 to Turkmenistan, Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday, citing sources in the arms industry.

The contracts, which follow earlier defence contracts with the countries, would be worth at least $500 million, defence analyst Konstantin Makiyenko told the newspaper.

Russia signed the contract with Algeria in autumn 2011 and the contract with Turkmenistan in summer 2011, Vedomosti reported, citing a source close to the arms export agency and a manager at state corporation Rostechnology.

The Arab Spring protests last year triggered unrest in Algeria and led its president to pledge reforms.

The energy-rich ex-Soviet state of Turkmenistan on Monday reelected its strongman President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov with over 97% of the vote.

Russia earlier supplied Algeria with 185 T-90C tanks in 2009 and supplied Turkmenistan with 10 tanks to fulfil a 2010 contract, the newspaper reported.

The new contracts would make Russia the world's largest tank exporter in 2012, beating China, said the editor of Moscow Defense Brief, Mikhail Barabanov.

Last year Russian army chief Alexander Postnikov complained to the Russian Senate about the high cost of the new T-90 tank model, saying that he could buy three German tanks for its price of 18 million rubles ($600,545).


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China defence budget to double over 5 years: IHS
Singapore (AFP) Feb 14, 2012
China's defence budget will double between 2011 and 2015 and outstrip the combined spending of all other key defence markets in the Asia-Pacific region, global research group IHS said Tuesday. China's defence budget stood at $119.8 billion last year and will rise to $238.2 billion in 2015, marking a combined annual growth rate of 18.75 percent during the period, the US-based IHS said in a fo ... read more

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