Amid a dispute with Airbus (ed.), Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said on Friday that the country’s 15 Eurofighter jets would be replaced early.
New fighter jets will be delivered between 2020 and 2023, and the current version of Saab’s Gripen is favoured to replace the Eurofighter.
Austria would like to strike a deal with Sweden, which via the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, is offering 15 single-seater Gripen C, and three two-seater Gripen D jets, the version used by the Swedish Air Force.
Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reports that Lockheed Martin’s F16 is also a potential candidate, and it is feasible that other alternatives could be in the running.
A deal will need to be struck by 2018 in order for deliveries to be made in 2020, and the Austrian government therefore intends to lease the aircraft to save time.
There is said to be broad political support in Austria to replace the Eurofighter jets, which could be significant as the country goes to the polls on 15 October.
Saab could have an advantage in that the Gripen is already used in two of Austria’s neighbouring countries, and is also being eyed by Slovakia.