Slovakia is not leasing or buying Saab Gripen fighter jets and neither is it seeking a joint Gripen unit with the Czech Republic anymore. According to local media this week, funds don’t allow for eight JAS39 Gripens to be leased or purchased.
A possible lease of Gripens to Slovakia was subject of discussion for quite some time and even looked quite feasible as talks were progressing, also with neighbouring Czech Republic. The Czechs have been operating Gripen for well over ten years out of Čáslav airbase, and a joint squadron of 22 aircraft was also talked about.
The recent purchase of two Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartans and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters doesn’t allow for more defense spending, the government in Bratislava has said. The former replace An-26 cargo aircraft, while the latter come in place of Mi-17 Hip helos.
In Slovakia, the Saab Gripen would have replaced a small fleet of ageing MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets that have been in service since the late eighties. The country is now looking to keep eight MiGs in the air for longer, with contacts already with Russian suppliers.
Czech Gripens may still be called upon in case this change of plans leads to reduced serviceability of Slovakian MiGs. The Czechs would be able to guard Slovakian airspace for roughly three months.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Saab Gripen on patrol. (Image © Elmer van Hest)