The Government of the Slovak Republic has approved the purchase of 14 F-16 fighter jets from the US as part of the modernisation programme of the Slovak Armed Forces.

Slovakia Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš has formally signed three separate Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) and the contractual documents for the aircraft upon approval by the Slovak Ministry of Finance.

Gajdoš said: “This marks a historic momentum for Slovakia and my thanks go out to members of the SVK Cabinet for identifying themselves with our proposed solution and agreeing on the best solution for the future of SVK airspace protection in terms of quality and price.”

In addition, Slovak Republic Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin signed the framework agreement, which will serve as an industrial cooperation agreement for the transfer of authority to the country’s defence industry for aircraft maintenance.

The contract will cover the delivery of aerial munitions and a two-year logistics support package, beginning from the aircraft in-service date in the Slovak Republic.

“The first F-16 for the SVK Air Force will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022, with final deliveries scheduled for the end of 2023.”

As part of the contract, 22 pilots and 160 aircraft technicians will receive training in flying and other related maintenance support.

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Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said: “This is an important moment in the history of the Slovak Republic because the investment is worth over €1.6bn. It is an act whereby the Slovak Republic recognises its commitment to moving towards increased defence spending and reaching the 2% of GDP benchmark for defence expenditure, one which will continue to guarantee the sovereignty and protection of Slovak airspace.

“The Slovak Republic thus wants to send a clear signal that it sees its future place in the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance alike.”

The first F-16 for the SVK Air Force will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022, with final deliveries scheduled for the end of 2023.

With a total of 14 aircraft featuring advanced systems, 12 units will be one-seater and two will be two-seat trainers.