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Defence News 22/09/2017
Slovakia postpones purchase of fighters to replace old MiG-29s

Slovakia will postpone the previously planned purchase of Western-made fighters in connection with the need to modernize the weapons of other types of troops, Defense Minister Peter Gajdos said.

According to Reuters, Slovakia, a member of NATO, negotiated the possibility of supplying aircraft to replace the MiG-29 Russian production with several companies. Earlier, Defense Minister Gajdos reported that proposals were being evaluated, in particular, for the procurement or lease of F-16 and JAS-39 Gripen fighters. The Swedish aircraft is already in service with neighboring Hungary and the Czech Republic.

It was expected that the leadership of Slovakia will decide on the delivery of fighters by the end of September, but the minister said that the implementation of the project will be postponed due to the need to conduct, first of all, the modernization of the Ground Forces, which are the core of the Armed Forces in Slovakia. According to him, while a number of the Air Force modernization projects have already been implemented, the weapons fleet has not been updated for several decades.

The member of the Slovak National Party, Peter Gajdos, has already been criticized by the partners in the coalition government, which believe that the delay in the purchase of fighters will keep Slovakia's dependence on Russia.

Responding to his opponents, the defense minister said that if the Ministry of Finance and the government allocate funds for the implementation of all projects, the military department is ready to complete the ongoing negotiations and conclude a deal to supply new aircraft.

As indicated in the Slovakian Defense Strategy project, published by the Ministry of Defense last week, which will be discussed in the first half of 2018, the country should allocate about 6.5 billion euros ($7.80 billion) for the modernization of the armed forces by 2030. Defense spending should increase from 1.1% of GDP to 1.6% by 2020 and to 2% by 2024.

In 2014, Slovakia purchased two BTA C-27J aircraft from Alenia Aermacchi, and in 2015 signed a contract for the supply of nine American UH-60M multipurpose helicopters, Black Hawk, to replace Russian Mi-17s.

Source - AeroTime

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