As Slovakia eyes acquiring new fighter jets, the Swedish-built Gripen is a leading candidate. (Agence France-Presse)
WARSAW — Slovakia is planning to acquire new fighter jets for its air force, Slovak Defense Minister Martin Glvac told local news agency TASR.
Glvac said the most likely scenario for Slovakia is to follow the example of neighboring Czech Republic, which has been leasing fighters for its armed forces. The Slovak ministry will select the supplier of the aircraft through “an international contest,” the minister said.
Under the plan, the new fighters will replace Slovakia’s MiG-29s.
The Slovak Defense Ministry is most likely to lease Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters from Sweden, local newspaper SME reported. The aircraft have been leased by the Czech Republic, and Bratislava and Prague are reportedly discussing the establishment of a joint squadron, should Slovakia lease the Gripens from Sweden.
From 2004 through 2014, the Czech Republic will pay about 19.6 billion crowns (US $973 million) for the lease of 14 fighters. Prague has been reportedly planning to extend the contract, which is set to expire this year, to 2029.
Leasing between six and eight fighters for Slovakia’s air force for a similar period is estimated to cost about €250 million (US $340 million), according to the information obtained by SME. ■