Czechs to keep leasing Gripen fighters

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The Czech Republic will lease 14 SAAB Gripen aircraft for another 14 years, Sweden's Defense and Security Export Agency (FXM) announced this week.

The contract for the lease, which follows more than a year of negotiations between the Czech and Swedish governments, still needs to be detailed and then signed.


"We are convinced that we have found a mutually good solution which will meet the Czech Air Force's needs, both now and in the future," said FXM Director-General Ulf Hammarstrom. "This is both a positive cooperation and a strategic partnership that are advantageous to the Czech Republic (and) also benefits Swedish defense, Swedish taxpayers and other Gripen users."

The Swedish agency said the lease program will include training and upgrading of the aircraft, as well as logistical and operational support.

The Czech Republic signed the initial Gripen lease in 2004 and the aircraft became an operational component of the country's air defense system the following year.

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