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Fico: Army won't buy transport aircraft in 2009

The announced purchase of transport aircraft for the Slovak Armed Forces will not take place as early as 2009 after all, Prime Minister Robert Fico announced after the government session on October 29. He said that the military would have to get by with less funding in the years ahead.

The announced purchase of transport aircraft for the Slovak Armed Forces will not take place as early as 2009 after all, Prime Minister Robert Fico announced after the government session on October 29. He said that the military would have to get by with less funding in the years ahead.

"The Defence Minister is under strong pressure. He realises that he has to come up with proposals for cutting expenditures in 2009, as we consider them to be too high, taking into account the quality that the army is able to provide," Fico said. "Maybe soldiers will be angry with me, but I recommend that they look at a recording of a military parade, which will provide a hint as to how the Slovak army is doing. We won't support it."

The Defence Ministry has been planning to buy between two-six tactical transport aircraft worth Sk2.5-7.5 billion (€82.6-247.8 million). Bids for supplying the aircraft have been submitted by American company Lockheed Martin (with its C-130s), Spain's CASA-EADS (Casa C-295), and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica (C-27 Spartan). The ministry launched the tender in August. Defence Minister Jaroslav Baška described the purchase as a priority, and planned to finance it via leasing in order to lower the pressure on the budget. Fico agreed to spread out repayments over several years, but ruled out making the purchase as early as next year. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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