Eurofighter president warns Norway not to delay aircraft deal



Eurofighter president warns Norway not to delay aircraft deal

Deutsche Press-Agentur (dpa)
Oslo (dpa) - Fighter aircraft maker Eurofighter has offered to lease combat planes to Norway's military in a last-minute bid to prevent postponement of a 1.2 billion-dollar deal, a newspaper report said Wednesday.

Cesare Gianni, president of Eurofighter International, wrote a letter to Norwegian Defence Minister Bjoern Tore Godal is which he warned of the consequences for "Norway's role on the European political scene" if the military puts off a planned purchase of Eurofighter aircraft until 2010, the Oslo newspaper Aftenposten said.

On Friday, the government presents its revised budget, which is expected to contain a decision on the Eurofighter purchase. Godal declined to comment on Gianni's letter until after the budget goes to the parliament.

In his letter to Godal, Gianni said he could offer Norway alternatives "that take into account budget concerns with respect to the investment profile". These include a leasing agreement instead of direct purchase and a phased payments plan.

At the same time, Gianni warned Godal of the consequences of putting the deal on the back burner.

"This decision, of course, also will have a profound influence on the future of Norwegian high technology industry and for questions related to the current debate on Norway's role on the European political scene," he wrote.

Norway, a member of NATO but not the E.U. has been active in recent years to gain influence in the E.U.'s common defence and security policy decision making process.

Copyright 2000 dpa Deutsche Press-Agentur GmbH

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