NEWS IN SHORT

Cabinet agrees to buy planes

THE CABINET approved during its October 22 session the purchase of two C-27J Spartan tactical transport airplanes. Their producer is the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and according to estimates, the aircraft should cost up to €80 million. The government, however, was secretive as to the details of the significant defense expenditure.

THE CABINET approved during its October 22 session the purchase of two C-27J Spartan tactical transport airplanes. Their producer is the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and according to estimates, the aircraft should cost up to €80 million. The government, however, was secretive as to the details of the significant defense expenditure.

This move completes the almost six-year procurement process that began in 2008 in the wake of the crash of a military aircraft An-24 close to the Hungarian village Hejce. Defence Minister Martin Glváč said that the contract on delivery of the two machines will be inked next week, the Sme daily reported.

“It’s the aircraft we need and, first of all, it’s required by the army,” said Glváč, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that C-27Js will carry out military tasks and ensure that the Slovak army will not lose capabilities following the scrapping of the An-24s.

According to the Defence Ministry, the public may learn the price of the order in a week, when Glváč is expected to sign the contract. Glváč for now says that the price will be lower than that in the tender in 2008, which occurred during the first government of Robert Fico. The first Spartan will land in Slovakia in 2016 and the second a year later. The first instalment will be paid this year, according to Sme.

Former defence minister Ľubomír Galko of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) said that the ministry’s approach is not proper and the public should know the price, though he understands that complete equipment of planes has not been published.

Martin Fedor of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) who also served as defence minister, pointed out that Slovak air force development is still confidential.
“I welcome modernisation of the fleet, but how can we evaluate whether this decision is effective?” Fedor said, as quoted by Sme.

The subcontractor of Spartans is the Czech company Aero Vodochody, which is owned by Penta investment group. Aero Vodochody supplies Alenia Aermacchi with parts for the wing. Alenia Aermacchi was represented in Slovakia by the Willing company for several years. Willing’s representatives accompanied Prime Minister Robert Fico during his official visits to Russia, Libya and Israel. Miroslav Výboh, the influential businessman trading weapons and Fico’s friend, was also representative of Willing for years, Sme wrote.

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