PRAGUE - The USA offered to lease fourteen F-16 fighter jets to the Czech Republic and to provide the country with necessary maintenance, logistic, and training facilities and services. The offer was made in 2013 and again this February, but no Czech official responded.
At the beginning of March, Sweden signed a CZK 15 billion (EUR 550 million) contract with the new Czech government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to prolong the lease of its JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to the Czech Republic.
The USA offered to lease the F-16 fighter jets for CZK 9-10 billion (EUR 330-360 million).
Aktualne.cz has seen documents sent by American company Aero Enterprises chief executive David Cannavo to the Czech Defense Ministry and Finance Ministry. The documents contained details of the offer, which included the construction of maintenance and service facilities and the training of Czech military pilots in the USA, paid from the Pentagon's fund to support NATO allies.
Cannavo stressed in his letter to Finance Minister Andrej Babis that the USA was offering modern F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighter jets, which are still in use by the US Air Force.
The Czech Finance Ministry has confirmed to Aktualne.cz that it has received the American offer and that it is preparing a response. The American offer was received before the Czech government signed the contract with Sweden.
“We have no information about it,” said Defense Minister spokesman Jan Pejsek about the American offer. But Aero Enterprises official Stephen Bulboff, who attended business meetings in Prague and Bratislava last week, confirmed to Aktualne.cz that the letter was sent also to the Defense Ministry.
Bulboff told Aktualne.cz that his company made the offer on behalf of the Pentagon and in coordination with the American embassy in Prague. The embassy warned Aero Enterprises that the Gripen deal had been decided on in advance and that they were losing their time, Bulboff said.
Aero Enterprises has also approached the Slovak Defense Ministry with a similar offer. The Slovak ministry responded in a letter that it would consider the “very interesting offer”.
Follow us on Twitter!