An exchange of confidential emails between analysts and an undercover intelligence officer working for the US global security think tank Stratfor — issued today by WikiLeaks — signal that the Czechs planned to issue an “ultimatum” to Washington demanding a better deal on F-16 fighter jets for itself and other CEE members of NATO. Otherwise, Prague wants a significant role in the US anti-missile defense project, to counter the Russian “threat.”
The Czech Republic and several other Eastern European countries have all expressed interest in buying “almost new” Eurofighter military aircraft from Germany, Financial TimesDeutschland, the local version of the UK business daily, reported on Thursday, with Berlin looking to offload eight planes, which, if new, would cost some €60 million to €80 million each (including ancillary services).
The Czech hire contract with the Swedish government for JAS-39 Gripen jet fighters to protect Czech airspace runs out in 2015; speculation is mounting over whether the deal will be extended or another fighter chosen. PM Petr Nečas is said to favor an American solution; charges that massive bribes were used by BAE Systems-SAAB when trying to land a deal to sell JAS-39s could work in Washington’s favor.