Slovakia Delays Decision on Replacing Russian MiG-29 Jets
(Source: Radio Free Europe; issued June 20, 2018)
Slovakia says it is postponing a decision on whether to buy U.S.-made F-16s or Swedish Gripen fighters to replace its aging fleet of Russian-made MiG-29s.
Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini on June 20 said he wanted to delay an expected decision to "see comparable offers to eliminate any doubts. This is a serious decision worth billions of euros."
The Defense Ministry had been expected to submit an analysis of the two options by June 29 for government approval.
NATO member Slovakia has a maintenance contract with Russia for its 12 MiG-29s until at least mid-2019, in a deal worth $25 million to $80 million a year.
Russian technicians are based at a Slovak military air base as part of the deal. They would remain in place even after a deal is signed for the new jets until delivery takes place.
Jaroslav Nad, an analyst from the Slovak Security Police Institute, said Gripen jets would take 18-24 months to be delivered, while F-16s would likely be delivered in 2023.
"Both options would be a step forward for Slovakia. However, there has been no public debate on whether the country needs the more expensive and more advanced F-16s or the more budget-friendly Gripens," he told Reuters.
Total costs of the jets and maintenance have not been disclosed.
Hungary and the Czech Republic have Gripen jets. Poland has a fleet of 48 F-16s, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., but also has kept some 30 MiG 29s.
MOD Condemns Lies About the Swedish Offer of the Gripen Fighter Jet Package
(Source: Slovakian Ministry of Defence; issued June 18, 2018)
The SVK MOD strongly condemns the lies being spread about the Swedish offer of the Gripen fighter jets package, which appeared in an article written by Vladimír Šnídla and was published by N Daily: “According to Swedes, the Slovak Minister of Defence lied about their offer of the fighter jets package.”
The MOD wishes to stay away from the competitive struggles between the two companies and firmly rejects the pressure exerted by one of the companies that wants to influence the selection of the contractor for the delivery of supersonics.
In selecting fighter jets, the MOD can work with only official offers. In this case, our partners are the US Government and the Swedish Government. Neither the MOD nor the Minister can negotiate directly with the aircraft producers.
If the Swedish producer was serious about constructing a Logistics Centre in Slovakia, this should have been part of the Swedish Government’s offer. However, this is not the case.
In view of the misinformation published by the media outlet, the MOD must disagree with the misstatement that a Logistics Centre project has been officially offered to Slovakia. If this were the case, it would have to be part of an official offer.
The MOD makes it clear that the conditions for both potential contractors must be the same as per valid legislation. This means that the MOD cannot take into consideration any statements to the media, nor any lobbyist pressure by any of the two competing producers.
Complying with the SVK Government’s decision, the only official offers are the ones submitted by the US and Swedish Governments. We must repeat that the construction of a Logistics Centre is not part of the Swedish Government’s offer.