PRAGUE, Czech Republic, July 31 (UPI) -- The Czech Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces will enter negotiations for continued leasing of Saab 39 Gripen aircraft.
The Czech military flies 14 of the Swedish company's fighter aircraft under an agreement signed in 2004. A Swedish news report said the Czechs were balking over the cost requested to continue the arrangement.
The first Gripen of the Czech air force became operational in 2005. The Czech air force obtained the aircraft to replace Soviet-made MiG-21s.
The Czech military had leased the aircraft at a cost of more than $950.6 million.
The Gripen 39 is a multi-role aircraft with a maximum speed of more than 1,300 miles per hour at altitude. It has a combat radius of 500 miles and a service ceiling of 50,000 feet.
The Czech Defense Ministry this week said it has been authorized by the government to hold negotiations on a new deal but, if satisfactory arrangements weren't reached, the Czech Republic would look elsewhere for a supersonic aircraft fleet.
"If there is no acceptable result reached from the talks, the government is ready to open public invitation to tender over supersonic aircraft fleet for the Czech Republic," it said.