Bratislava, August 15 (TASR) – The Aircraft Repair Company (LOTN) from Trencin has been selected as a „strategic partner“ by US company Lockheed Martin in the project to deliver 14 F-16C Block 70 fighter jets to the Slovak Air Force, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Campaign Lead for Slovakia Mike Kelley told journalists in Bratislava on Wednesday.
Lockheed Martin has established a programme of cooperation with Slovak companies, while five projects are related to the security of deliveries as demanded by the Slovak Defence Ministry and two projects concern long-term cooperation, said Kelly.
According to him, LOTN has appropriate capacities for carrying out maintenance, service repairs, as well as general overhauls for the F-16s. Moreover, if other European countries opt for the F-16, this will also mean further business opportunities for the Trencin-based company.
For example, Croatia earlier this year decided on purchasing a dozen second-hand F-16s from Israel, while Bulgaria is deciding among several aircraft, including the F-16. At the same time, this aircraft is also in the frame in several other countries, said Kelly, adding that this would also result in a ‚discount‘ in the F-16 price for Slovakia, as the price per aircraft is lower with higher production volumes.
The inter-governmental agreement on 14 F-16 fighters worth a total of $1.86 billion, scheduled to be signed by January 2019, will most probably be inked by the end of this year, as the US Government, the Slovak Defence Ministry and the producer are all interested in as soon a delivery as possible, said Kelly.
The first aircraft for Slovakia should be produced in September 2022, while by August 2023 they all should be ready. Meanwhile, the first four F-16 aircraft will land at the Sliac Air Base (Banska Bystrica region) in April 2023, and all the jets will have been in Slovakia by October.