F16 and Gripen – authorities’ choice of multi-role aircraft
published in issue 4309 page 5 at 2008-11-11
After the Defence Minister announced in a ‘Evenimenul Zilei’ interview earlier that Romania will acquire multi-role planes without a tender, but via dialogue with the five competitors, yesterday’s issue of that same daily contained the news of the Premier having okayed by secret memo two aircraft alternatives – F16, by Lockheed Martin, and the Swedish SAAB-made Gripen. According to the memorandum drafted by the Ministry of Defence late last year and approved by the Prime Minister last September, ‘the aircraft F16 C/D and JAS 39 Grippen have the best cost/performance ratio and require average acquisition prices.
Both planes are modern, fourth-generation aircraft, well equipped and armed, with the F16 having a major advantage in terms of its efficiency proven in current theatres of operations and inter-operability.’ The analysis also hints the F35 JSF, the jewel in the aviation crown, a fifth-generation jet fighter also manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is the actual target of authorities in Bucharest. What makes it even more attractive is the operating and maintenance costs being 30 per cent lower than F16’s. The only problem is F35 will only be available on the market in 2020. ‘The Defence Ministry puts forth for approval the final alternative regarding the procurement of F35 FSF 5th-generation multi-role jet fighters. Romania was notified it might be eligible for purchasing the F35 JSF aircraft in 2016, with its actual operation from 2020, according to letter 110/12.09.2007 addressed to Romania’s Prime Minister and the US ambassador in Bucharest,’ the memorandum shows.
In a reply to the memorandum issue, the Ministry of Defence spokeswoman, Andreea Dumitru, said ‘such evaluations by ministry experts are periodical.’
‘The final choice over the acquiring of the multi-role plane rests with Minister Melescanu, of the competitive dialogue wherein all the five manufacturers of such military equipment stand an equal chance,’ EVZ quoted Andreea Dumitru as saying.
In an interview published a few days ago, the Defence Minister said he showed no preference for any of the manufacturers involved. ‘I have no preference. I only want an aircraft able to make me rest assured procurement procedures are transparent and competitive, and notably, without the fear I will someday watch TV and see a pilot falling down due to technical malfunction.’