Reports have surfaced that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is looking at acquiring a number of SAAB Gripen fighters, and that the country has been in talks with Swedish aircraft manufacturer Försvarets Materielverk (FMV) regarding purchasing options.
According to reports from Business Weekly and Review, the BDF Air Wing, having operated a Canadian license built version of the Northrop F-5 for a number of years are seeking a fighter to replace its aged F-5s. The talks reportedly surrounded the purchasing of up to 8 JAS-39 C/D Gripens valued at approximately US $1.8 billion.
According to Lt. Gen. Gaolathe Galebotswe, who appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to report on the Defence Force’s state of equipment, the BDF had approached multiple possible manufacturers in Russia, the US, China and Sweden. Galebotswe stated that the BDF had studied platforms such as the F-16, certain Mig models and undisclosed options from China, in the end settling for the Gripen due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance.
If the deal with FMV is inked, it would mean further success for the Gripen program that has already seen major export deals, recently winning a bid to supply Brazil with up to 36 Gripen E/F models.