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IN ITS effort to boost defence capabilities, Slovakia is set to begin official talks on the rental of Gripen jet fighters from Sweden, with the Slovak government assigning the task to Defence Minister Martin Glváč at its regular session on March 18.

Glváč envisaged the beginning of the negotiations back in late January. The government maintains, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that Sweden is the only country to offer Slovakia an option whereby it could rent flying hours. Details of the costs and number of Gripens to be used in Slovakia are still to be elaborated during the talks.

The Slovak Armed Forces currently have Mig-29 jet fighters at their disposal, the contract for which will expire in 2016. According to Glváč, Slovakia cannot afford to purchase new fighter jets. The Czech Republic is also renting Gripen aircraft from Sweden.

Glváč said, according to the SITA newswire, that the Defence Ministry addressed several producers, governments and military attaches.

“The only partner who fulfils our current conditions is the Swedish government, and the producer of Gripens,” he said.

Glváč also said, as quoted by SITA, that there is still the possibility to continue with current jet fighters for which the license ends in November 2016, or Slovakia might agree with some ally on the protection of air space.

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