Aviation Week's Bill Sweetman, who is no fan of the F-35 program, reports on the Ares blog that a Swedish newspaper has found U.S. diplomatic cable traffic in the Wikileaks intelligence trove that show U.S. government officials played a little hardball with the government of Norway to keep them on board as a future F-35 buyer.
We haven't done our own translation yet of the Swedish story, but according to Sweetman's version the U.S. withheld approval for Sweden to use a Raytheon AESA radar in the Gripen jet in order to lessen its capabilities and appeal to the Norwegians, who were being pressured at home to buy from their neighbors.
US officials, including then deputy defense secretary Gordon England, also warned the Norwegian government that "the choice of aircraft will have an impact on the bilateral relationship" between the two countries - but the second-in-command at Norway's defense ministry asked the US government to deny that any political pressure had been applied.
According to documents, Swedish defense minister Sten Tolgfors met with Michael Wood, US ambassador to Sweden, in June 2008 to discuss the possibility of adapting a Raytheon active electronically scanned array (AESA) for Gripen NGs in the Nordic region. At the time, Saab had an agreement with Thales to use that company's AESA technology in the Gripen Demo prototype but had not made a decision about a production configuration.
Wood had previously reviewed the request, on which Sweden expected a decision in September, but on July 9 advised the Defense Department to put the request on hold until Norway had made its decision.
Copies of the memos are attached here.