Slovak Cabinet Approves F-16V Purchase for €1.6 Billion

Cabinet Adopts A Historic Decision, Slovak Skies Will Be Protected By US F-16 Fighter Jets

(Source: Slovak Ministry of Defence; issued July 11, 2018)

After years of hesitation, Slovakia has finally opted to buy 14 Lockheed F-16V Block 70/72 fighters for 1.6 billion euros, a price it says is 8 percent lower than the Gripen fighters offered by Saab. (LM artist’s view)

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.

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Cabinet Approved Purchase of 14 US F-16s (excerpt)

(Source: Slovak Spectator; posted July 11, 2018)

Slovakia will purchase 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 tactical fighter jets and will sign the relevant contracts with the US government, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (the ruling Smer party) said on July 11, after a cabinet session. He added, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that for the package of 14 US fighters, training, ammunition and logistics, Slovakia will pay €1.589 billion over the following years.

The cabinet at its session accepted the proposal made by Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (junior coalition Slovak National Party-SNS) to purchase the US F-16s rather than the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets, which were also on offer. The US government’s bid was evaluated as the most advantageous in terms of money and as the best solution in technical terms, according to Pellegrini.

Given the over 30-year life cycle of the American fighters, the US bid is 8 percent cheaper than Sweden’s, the premier added. However, the initial investment in the US machines alone is several hundred million euros higher compared to the Swedish Gripen jets.

“We have a commitment to bolster our defence spending as a NATO member up to 2 percent [of GDP],” Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák told TASR. “The Defence Ministry will be continuously receiving more money and that money cannot go to waste. It’s about making our armament compatible with NATO standards,” stated Lajčák, adding that the Russian jet fighters that Slovakia still uses do not fit the bill. He also noted that the decision was adopted by the cabinet unanimously.

President reacts

The modernisation of the armed forces is inevitable and necessary, according to President Andrej Kiska, although the procedure chosen should be transparent, his spokesman Roman Krpelan told TASR.

The governmental decision to buy the US fighter jets has also been echoed at the ongoing NATO summit in Brussels, President Kiska said during the negotiations of the heads of state and prime ministers of NATO member countries on the same day.

The president pointed out that he mentioned this fact during his opening speech. He added that such purchases are not exceptional from the perspective of the alliance and the surrounding countries, because larger countries push larger amounts of military equipment.

Asked what he thinks about the selection of F-16 fighter jets, Kiska answered that the chosen team of experts made a clear and transparent selection and chose the best possible option from the perspective of our country. At the same time, he added that it is a good signal to our allies that we will have top-quality fighters. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Slovak Spectator website.

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