Slovakia will buy American fighters F-16 Block 70/72 for €1.6 billion. The respective documents were signed by Slovakia’s Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (Slovak National Party) and Ana Wugofski, vice-president of US company Lockheed Martin.
The order includes 14 aircraft, aviation equipment, logistic support and the training of aviation and ground staff. Fighter jets are to be delivered by the end of 2023, the TASR newswire reported.
“We’re looking forward to strengthening our partnership with the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic,” said John Neilson, spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, as quoted by TASR.
F-16 jets to be delivered by 2023
“We have completed the process of procuring new fighter aircraft, said PM Peter Pellegrini (Smer), as quoted by TASR. “Slovakia will stop using MiG-29 aircraft for protesting its airspace and will buy F-16 aircraft, the most up-to-date version.”
Slovakia will buy 12 single-seat and a pair of two-seat jets for training purposes.
Lockheed Martin has claimed the government will increase its defence capabilities by purchasing modern fighters and will also support a strategic partnership with NATO and the United States, TASR reported.
Slovakia will be fully compatible with NATO and EU states after purchasing the fighters, Gajdoš added.
“Slovakia has made a commitment to increase expenditures and thus strengthen and achieve the desired target of two percent of GDP,” Pellegrini said, as quoted by TASR.
The American aircraft producer will first deliver four fighter jets by 2022. In 2023, the remaining 10 will arrive. The contract also includes the training of aviation personnel and pilots, while 160 soldiers will be travelling to the USA.
Though the opposition party Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) respects the government’s decision, it said that the government could also choose a cheaper and more advantageous alternative to the exchange of supersonic fighter jets, TASR wrote.