http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/slovak-government-clashes-over-largest-ever-arms-purchase/article/538030

Slovak government clashes over largest-ever arms purchase

Posted Nov 30, 2018 by AFP
Slovakia's prime minister clashed with the defence ministry on Friday over a deal to acquire US-made F-16 war planes in what is slated as the NATO member's biggest military purchase.
The Slovakian defence ministery announced it had concluded three agreements to buy 14 Lockheed Marti...
The Slovakian defence ministery announced it had concluded three agreements to buy 14 Lockheed Martin-made warplanes plus arms and training, but the Prime Minister said the contracts had not been approved by the finance ministry
CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT, AFP/File

Slovakia's prime minister clashed with the defence ministry on Friday over a deal to acquire US-made F-16 war planes in what is slated as the NATO member's biggest military purchase.

The defence ministry announced Friday that it had concluded three agreements to buy 14 Lockheed Martin-made warplanes plus arms and training valued at 1.58 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

Hours later, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini issued a statement saying that the contracts were invalid because they had not been approved by the finance ministry.

"Premier Pellegrini considers the contracts regarding the purchase of F-16 fighters signed earlier in the day by the defence ministry to be invalid for the moment, as the finance ministry still hasn't approved the deal," a statement said.

The defence ministry is headed by Peter Gajdos from the hard-right Slovak National Party (SNS), a junior coalition partner to Pellegrini's populist left SD-Smer Social Democracy.

Analysts suggested Friday that the clash was likely rooted in an internal power struggle within the coalition.

A former communist NATO and eurozone member of 5.4 million people, Slovakia is seeking to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-designed, Russian made MiG-29 fighter jets.

The US State Department approved the F-16 deal in April. Pellegrini's government had formally decided in July to go ahead with the purchase.