Czechs to sell up to 28 old fighter jets to U.S. company

PRAGUE Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:52am EST

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PRAGUE Nov 29 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic is close to selling up to 28 subsonic fighter jets to a private company in the United States after years of failed attempts to offload the surplus planes, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

The U.S. company, Draken International, has placed a binding bid to buy 14 L-159 planes with an option for 14 more for a total price of up to 516 million crowns ($25.7 million).

The government should decide about the contract by the end of the year. It could be completed in January 2014, the defence ministry said.

"The Czech Republic has been trying to sell these planes since 2004. There were hundreds of talks with dozens of countries, but always without success," Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek told a news conference.

Picek is part of a caretaker cabinet that is leading the country until a new government can be formed following an early election in October.

The planes are from the state's stock. The L-159's maker, Czech firm Aero Vodochody, is also involved in talks for a possible contract for repairs and other maintenance, it said in a separate statement. (Reporting by Robert Muller; editing by Andrew Roche)

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