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Hungary to extend Gripen lease by ten years, says DefMin

The Hungarian government plans to extend the lease of its Gripen fighter aircraft by ten years, and the Swedish government is expected to decide on the issue in late January, Defence Minister Csaba Hende said on Friday.

The extension is a national interest because the lease will expire in 2016 and there is no realistic alternative solution, Mr Hende said. Extending the lease until 2026 will save the Hungarian state gross HUF 63bn, he added.

Expert consultations about the extension of the lease ended on December 20 last year and the Hungarian government approved the decision on Wednesday, Mr Hende said.

The 14 Gripen fighter jets play a key role in maintaining the sovereignty of Hungary’s airspace, Mr Hende said.

Under the 2003 contract, Hungary has already paid over half of the full price. Should the contract not be extended until 2026, the rest should be paid between 2012 and 2016.

Under the planned extension, the sum to be paid during this five-year period would decrease to 17.4%, and the remaining 34.4% would be rescheduled for the subsequent ten years. The leasing fee would remain unchanged, he said.