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Defending the heavens together

CZECH Defence Minister Jaroslav Trvdík proposed to his Slovak counterpart, Ivan Šimko, that the two countries cooperate in building a joint air force to guard their common airspace, an idea the Slovak side said it would consider "very seriously".

The project, which would be termed "Joint Heavens", would see the countries buy fighter jets together, with 14 jets to defend Czech airspace and 10 to defend Slovakia.

The proposal came after the Czech Republic on November 18 backed out of a deal to buy 24 Swedish/British Grippen supersonic fighters. The tender had been marked by scandal, and this summer's flooding further reduced the money available for the purchase.

Most Slovak officials said they would wait until the offer was officially made by the Czech government before responding.

In 1992, before the division of then-Czechoslovakia, the Slovak side proposed a similar plan, but it was rejected by their Czech compatriots.

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