Odolena Voda - The first Czech-made L-159 combat planes may go to Iraq, which has shown interest in them, within weeks, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said during a visit to the Aero Vodochody aircraft maker today.
Ministr průmyslu a obchodu Jan Mládek (vlevo) navštívil 19. srpna Aero Vodochody. Prezident společnosti Ladislav Šimek mu vysvětluje novinky na nové verzi letounu L39. ČTK Doležal Michal
The transaction has been delayed by negotiations about the price between the Defence Ministry and Aero Vodochody that mediates the deal.
The Czech military bought 72 L-159s for 51 billion crowns years ago, but it has been using only one third of them. Thirty six combat planes have been mothballed and 26 of them can be prepared for sale soon.
In addition to Iraq, the U.S. Draken International firm has negotiated with Czechs about the purchase of some planes for training purposes.
Iraq wants to buy 14 L-159 aircraft, 11 of which have long been stored and three are in operation. The Aero Vodochody management will continue negotiating with the Defence Ministry today.
Mladek said the government will provide the necessary permits for licenced export and support it "with credits and insurance."
He said it is also counted with that Iraqi pilots will be trained in the Czech Republic. The Defence Ministry´s cooperation will be needed because the Czech military still uses some of the planes, Mladek said.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said previously the negotiations with the Iraqis are hampered by the current unrest in the country.
Iraqi ambassador to the Czech Republic Hussein Mualla, however, said he is convinced that the conflict between the government forces and Islamic militants will not affect the completion of the contract.