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Pilots eye Gripen fighter jet

The Swedish-made supersonic Gripen plane is emerging as the fighter aircraft being considered by the Philippine Air Force for its long-overdue modernization program. A random interview conducted by the Philippines News Agency on Tuesday indicated that Air Force pilots prefer the Gripen to other fighter planes because of its long-range anti-ship weapons, air-to-air missiles and lower cost. They say those weapons are highly accurate and may be unleashed even if the target is 80 kilometers away. The Gripen is manufactured by SAAB and has a top speed of 1,552 miles per hour. Representatives from Gripen were in Manila last month to participate in the annual Air Force symposium held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. They said they would be happy to sell to the Philippines the multi-role Gripen fighter jets. In its brochure distributed to the press, SAAB says Gripen is a cost-effective, new-generation and multi-role aircraft in the market. The Gripen costs $60 million while other planes similar to it can cost $80 million each or more. Thailand is said to have purchased 12 Gripen jet fighters while Malaysia is planning to buy the aircraft. The Swedish Air Force has over 200 Gripens   while Africa has 26, Hungary 14 and the Czech Republic 14. The United Kingdom is also said to own Gripens but it is not known how many. “The Gripen represents the ultimate in operational efficiency and capable of fulfilling a range of roles, either alone or as part of a wider defense network,” SAAB said. -- Ben Cal
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