The Defence Ministry of Slovakia announced on 11 July that it intends to purchase 14 F-16 Block 70 aircraft from Lockheed Martin to replace its aging fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29s. The Slovak Ministry of Defence, represented by National Armaments Director Col Vladimír Kavický, has signed respective Technical Arrangements for launching the MiG-29 fighter jet fleet replacement process. When the US State Department approved the jets for export in April, the aircraft, packaged with accompanying subsystems and weapons, were estimated to cost $1.9 billion billion. Expected that all new F-16V fighter jets for the Slovak Air Force are due to be delivered by the end of 2023.
The F-16 Block 70 was chosen over the Saab JAS 39 Gripen by the NATO ally because it cost less and could be delivered sooner, said Slovakian Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš. The Slovakian Defence Department said it compared the price, ammunition, pilot training costs and ground staff, logistics, infrastructure completion, delivery times and other operating costs of the fighters up to the year 2040. The purchase of the F-16 aircraft was hailed by the Slovakian government as an important step toward modernizing the country’s air force and deepening its integration with NATO. According to a MoD’s statement, Technical Arrangements includes three separate Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs), which are instrumental in effecting the performance of the agreement via the U.S. Governmentʼs Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, and covers the procurement of 14 U.S. F-16 aircraft, aerial munitions, logistics support, and flying and ground personnel training.
Lockheed’s sale of the F-16 to Slovakia is the second order since the company made the decision to move its production line from Fort Worth, Texas, to Greenville, South Carolina. The Slovakian sale, coupled with the Bahrain deal cemented last month, will help Lockheed keep production of the F-16 going while its biggest potential customer, India, figures out what it wants out of a future fighter. The foreign military sale package approved by the US State Department in April included some 16 F110 General Electric or F100 Pratt & Whitney engines; 15 General Dynamic M61 A1 Vulcan 20mm guns; 16 Northrop Grumman APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars; 100 Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinders; 6 Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods and 14 Terma AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management Systems, among other weapons and subsystems.
The Lockheed Martin F-16V is the latest and most advanced F-16 on the market today. The F-16V provides advanced combat capabilities in a scalable and affordable package. The core of the F-16V configuration is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. Operational capabilities are enhanced through a Link-16 Theater Data Link, Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, advanced weapons, precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS). The APG-83 provides F-16s with 5th Generation fighter radar capabilities by leveraging hardware and software commonality with F-22 and F-35 AESA radars. Another key feature of the F-16V configuration is the new Center Pedestal Display (CPD), which provides critical tactical imagery to pilots on a high-resolution 6”x 8” screen. The high-resolution display allows Pilot to take full advantage of AESA and Targeting Pod data.