Monday, March 29, 2010

AP: Romanian defense minister: We need 2nd-hand F-16s

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

Romania's defense minister said Friday the army needs used U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters to modernize its army, earning criticism from at least one European company that claimed the country could be buying junk.

Gabriel Oprea defended a decision by the country's Supreme Defense Council this week to replace MIG 21 Lancer planes with 24 secondhand F-16, saying Romania needs good-quality planes at a member of NATO. The president's office said the country could not afford new planes.

The marketing director in Romania for Sweden's Saab AB, Richard Smith, blasted the proposal, saying the army may end up with "someone else's junk."

Smith said that Swedish company Saab had offered brand new Gripen fighters, with low interest, a generous nonpayment period and 100 percent offset. He urged the defense ministry to send all offers to Parliament for lawmakers to be able to compare before they vote on whether to pass the proposal.

Officials from the consortium that produces the Eurofighter Typhoon also criticized the decision.

Romanian authorities had identified five types of jets to choose from: F-16s, JAS-39 Gripens, Eurofighter Typhoons, F-18s and Rafales.

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