MiG Offer to Hungary

IL Serge Pod #12.08.2001 22:17

Serge Pod


MiG Offer to Hungary

Russia reaffirmed on Tuesday its offer to overhaul NATO member Hungary's aging MiG-29 fighter fleet and rejected criticism by Hungary`s prime minister that the planes were not good enough.

``This aeroplane is not a `lame duck`, but rather a flying Hungarian eagle,`` Russian Ambassador to Budapest Valery Musatov told a reception honoring Hungarian Air Force Major Gyula Vari, who last week won the world`s ``Top Gun`` best fighter pilot title at a British air show for a record third time.

Vari achieved the feat flying a MiG-29, but that was little comfort to Russia, which stands to lose a small but long-standing customer for its military hardware.

Hungary, which joined NATO in 1999, is pondering replacing its 28 Russian-made MiGs with either U.S.-made F16s or Swedish JAS Gripens.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that Hungary was NATO`s ``lame duck`` with its MiGs, and the government would decide this month on a replacement.

Orban added that Hungary did not have enough money to buy fighter jets outright and even a lease scheme would cost 100 billion forints $354.4 million.


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