The Hungarian government has extended the lease of its 14 Gripen fighter jets for another ten years, to 2026.
The lease was approved by Sweden last week, the daily Nepszabadsag reports. Sofia Karlberg, an official at the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency, confirmed the lease extension but would not disclose any more information.
Hungarian defence minister Csaba Hende said earlier this month that the extension is in the national interest because there is no realistic alternative solution and that the extension through 2026 will save the Hungarian state 63 billion forints (US$270 million).
The Gripen lease costs Hungary 30 billion forints (US$130 million) a year while training for the aircraft costs another 2 billion forints (US$8.7 million) a year, according to the Budapest Business Journal.
In parallel to the lease contract, Gripen International has committed to provide offset and industrial cooperation to a value of 110% of the agreement value, which includes investments equalling 32% of the agreement’s value.
The Hungarian Air Force is leasing 14 ex-Swedish Air Force aircraft, including two two-seaters. The lease agreement was signed in February 2003 and Hungary became the first NATO member state to operate the Gripen when it received the first five aircraft in March 2006. Final deliveries took place in December 2007.
Saab has a sold its Gripen to Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa.