Protection and sovereignty of Slovak airspace and close air support to land forces will be delivered by US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets. This follows from todayʼs decision by the Slovak Security Council and the Cabinet. From a modernization perspective, this is the most extensive modernization programme in the history of the SVK Armed Forces.
SVK Minister of Defence Peter Gajdoš stated: “Based on detailed analyses we have chosen the best solution, because these jets are modern and state of the art. From the perspective of price, quality and capabilities and what we can afford as a country, they have no rival.” The Minister thanked the US and Swedish Governments for their fair bids and negotiations.
General Secretary of the SVK MOD Service Office Ján Hoľko added: “I am proud that the MOD team of subject matter specialists along with Slovak Armed Forces experts exerted maximum efforts to evaluate the bids expertly and professionally, and with all due diligence expected of them. In cooperating with the Value for Money Unit, they worked out a specialist document that has today obtained the approval of the Cabinet. I consider the statements of so-called ‘independent analysts’– that an expert discussion should have taken place – to be unfair. As the end users, the soldiers themselves know the needs of the SVK Armed Forces best.”
From the perspective of all parameters of the bids, the US bid was more advantageous for Slovakia. In this connection, the MOD has refused the speculation that the reason for selecting the US F-16 Block 70/72 are later deliveries, which will allow the MOD to prolong the SVK military’s dependence on Russian equipment.
“While the contract with the US Government is ready to be signed, the Swedish Government insisted on negotiating details only once the SVK Government has made the decision, whereas in both cases the date of delivery depends on the date of contract signature,” explained Head of the Defence Department. Moreover, if the Swedish bid had been accepted, some material would have had to be delivered by a third party, thus delaying the delivery.
Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini stated: “I am very pleased that todayʼs decision of the Cabinet did not have to be motivated only by some geopolitical moments or markedly better technical parameters, but that it was really influenced by the economic advantages of the purchase itself,” adding that “We have received an excellent price. We stand behind our decision.”
Reflecting on the proposed solution to the replacement of the Slovak Air Force’s fighter jet fleet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Kažimír said: “For me it is absolutely essential that it is a Government-to-Government relationship. This means it is between the Slovak Government and the US Government, no intermediaries are involved. For me, this is crucial.”
Director of the Value for Money Unit (SVK Ministry of Finance) Štefan Kišš confirmed that the bids were compared and evaluated by the Value for Money Unit, he said: “Our task along with the Minister of Defence was to put the bids on the same scales and the outcome is that if we compare the comparable, the entire life cycle of the American F16s is 8% cheaper [than the Gripens’].”
On behalf of the Slovak Armed Forces, Commander SVK Air Force Maj Gen Ľubomír Svoboda expressed his satisfaction with the Cabinet’s decision: “In analysing the bids we did not work with the marketing data supplied by the manufacturer, but we worked with facts and communicated with the countries that operate both types of aircraft. The facts were put on the table and used in the subsequent analysis.”
In considering all parameters of the bids, the US bid was evaluated more advantageous in terms of money. The MOD compared the package of 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, ammunition, training for pilots and ground personnel, logistics, airfield infrastructure development, dates of deliveries, and other operational costs with the Gripen package beyond 2040.