PRAGUE Aug 28 The Czech Republic moved a step
closer to completing a deal to sell 12 subsonic fighter planes
to Iraq after the Defence Ministry and plane maker Aero
Vodochody agreed on conditions, defence officials said on
The Czech army has a surplus of the L-159 fighters, made by
Aero and used as training or light combat aircraft, and has been
looking for a buyer. In July, the Czechs signed a contract to
sell 14 L-159 planes to U.S. company Draken International.
The Czechs have been trying to secure a deal to sell planes
to Iraq for years. A previous attempt to sell Iraq 28 of the
aircraft fell through in 2013 when Baghdad agreed to buy South
Korea's FA-50 planes instead.
A sale would bolster the air power of the Iraqi government
which is battling Islamic State insurgents and would also
showcase the Czech arms' producer, which is looking to expand
"We have never been as close with any counterparty as with
Iraq," Marek Dospiva, a partner at Aero owner Penta Investments,
told a news conference. "We believe a lot in this project,
however we cannot say yet that it has been completed."
Penta said in April it had reached a conditional agreement
with Baghdad on the planes.
The deal will include shipments of weaponry, ammunition as
well as ground equipment, spare parts and pilot training, Aero
It did not reveal the price Iraq would pay for the planes
but the ministry of defence said it would receive 750 million
crowns (35.62 million US dollar), for a total of 15 L-159
fighter jets which it will sell to the plane maker.
The contract with Iraq still needs to be approved by the
Czech government and is subject to further approvals and payment
arrangements on both the Czech and Iraqi sides, Dospiva said.
On Wednesday, the Czech government approved a donation of
ammunition for assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled
grenades as well as hand grenades to Iraqi Kurds.
(1 US dollar = 21.0530 Czech crown)
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Susan Fenton)