The lucrative arms trade with the Philippines has long been seen as sensitive in Sweden due to allegations of human rights abuses in the country under former President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the country’s armed conflict with militias in some breakaway regions, which barred arms deals under Swedish law.
Swedish arms giant Saab is now looking forward to a billion-dollar deal with the Philippines as the Swedish state authorized the export of the Jas Gripen to the country in November, a Swedish newspaper has revealed.
The Export Control Board (EKR) at the Swedish Arms Export Authority (ISP) reportedly unanimously decided to approve the deal. However, the ISP itself did not confirm or deny the information due to trade secrets.
It would be the first time in history that Swedish arms exports to the Philippines were approved. As recently as last October, according to the paper, the EKR refused to export the Jas Gripen to the island state.
Saab press manager Mattias Rådström admitted that the Philippines’ interest in Gripens is “common knowledge”.
The exact number of jets that may be covered by the deal and the exact model of the Gripens in question are unknown, but the Swedish Ministry of Defense’s leaked emails indicated the Jas Gripen C and D. Regardless of the model, however, a billion-dollar deal may now be in the works. to be at Saab’s door.
Saab has been trying to sell the Jas Gripen to the Philippines for a long time, and since 2016 the company has a sales office in Manila.
However, the deal was seen as sensitive in Sweden due to allegations of human rights abuses in the country under former President Rodrigo Duterte. In addition, the country is in armed conflict with militias in some breakaway regions, which precluded arms deals under Swedish law. According to Swedish media, there is an assessment within the ISP that arms exports are now possible because Duterte has lost power and there is hope from the Swedish side that the situation in the country will improve.
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft. Earlier Gripen models achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia, but suffered serious setbacks as Sweden’s neighbors Denmark, Finland and Norway opted for US-made equipment instead.
Founded in 1937, Saab is a pillar of the Swedish aerospace and defense industry with fewer than 20,000 employees. The company is based in Stockholm, but development and production takes place in Linkoping.