Prague/Farnborough - The Czech Aero Vodochody aircraft producer has signed a contract with the U.S. Draken International firm on the sale of up to 28 L-159 combat planes from the military reserves, Aero Vodochody announced in a press release today.
Ilustrační foto - Bitevník L-159 (na archivním snímku ze 14. ledna 1999). ČTK Thomová-Mauerová Judita
Aero agreed on the sale of the redundant aircraft with the Defence Ministry on Monday.
The company did not say how much the Americans would pay for the aircraft.
According to previous information, one plane should be sold for 16-18 million crowns.
The sum will be specified after the aircraft are inspected.
Draken will include the combat aircraft into its squadron of former military planes, which is the largest private squadron of them in the world.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) previously said the L-159 were the Defence Ministry's nightmare.
The Czech military paid 51 billion crowns for its 72 L-159 subsonic combat planes in the past. Since the aircraft have been ageing, the state will sell them for a markedly lower price now.
It should get about 0.5 billion crowns for 28 planes.
The military pays about ten million crowns for the maintenance of the unused planes a year.
Aero at the same time concluded strategic partnership with Draken.
Aero-made planes will be for the first time traded in and assembled outside the Czech Republic and they will have complete support from a foreign partner.
Draken will be trading in L-159s and other aircraft from Aero´s production in South and North America. In addition, both firms will seek new business opportunities on the European market.
According to the contract, Draken is to buy up to 28 L-159s.
However, their final number will depend on a possible agreement between the Czech Republic and Iraq. Iraq is interested in 15 planes, Stropnicky said.
If the contract with Iraq were signed, the number of the planes delivered to the U.S. would drop to 21.
The results of the negotiations with Iraq are expected in the autumn.
Draken International is a private firm providing services for the U.S. air force and navy. It may use the Czech planes for the training of American pilots.