Slovakia looks to buy modern trainer jet to train future F-16 pilots

Slovakia buy new trainer jet
Trainer jets under evaluation from Slovakia to train future F-16 pilots.

The Slovak Ministry of Defense recently said they are considering purchasing new trainer jets as part of the nation's project to modernize the Slovak Air Force fleet. Options include aircraft manufactured in Italy, England and the Czech Republic.

This assessment follows the Slovak Air Force's plan to train future pilots of the 'newly acquired' F-16s at home rather than in the United States.

In 2019 Slovakia purchased 14 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 fighters (12 single seat and 2 double seat). The contract signed with the US aerospace giant also provides for the training of the first Slovak pilots at the National Guard Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Tucson will temporarily host the first 4 Slovak F-16s which will be delivered in the fall of 2022.

Subsequently, Slovakia's plan is to train its pilots at home with a modern trainer jet.

"We are currently talking with various manufacturers to define the best proposals. We would like to make a choice during this legislature. Thanks to the new trainer, our next F-16 pilots will be able to fly many hours in Slovakia and not have to complete all training in the United States. This will save us millions of euros," Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď said.

Currently, the Slovak Air Force's fleet includes six L-39 Albatross trainer aircraft whose operational life is expected to end over the next six years. The Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic intends to replace them with eight or ten modern trainer jets.

The aircraft currently involved in the evaluation include the Leonardo M-345 and M-346 jets (with a preference for the first because of the lower cost), the BAE Systems Hawk and the Aero Vodochody L-39NG.

The final choice will take into consideration the aircraft and its integrated training system, but also the opportunity for industrial cooperation with Slovak companies. According to the Minister of Defense, Bratislava intends to spend around ten million euros per aircraft.

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