September 26, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Bush administration asked the U.S. Congress Thursday to approve a $550 million, 12-year loan to the Czech Republic that would enable them to buy 14 used F-16s.
The could also be used to provide training, weapons and logistic support for the used aircraft, according to White House documents, which were sent to key congressional committees for review.
"The Czech Republic's acquisition of U.S. fighters would greatly improve the interoperability of its air force with NATO
and the United States and as a member of NATO, a supporter of the war on terrorism, and a contributor to peace and stability in Iraq, the Czech Republic is integral to our efforts to strengthen the trans-Atlantic alliance," the White House said in one letter by Budget Director Josh Bolten.
Under the loan deal, the Czech Republic could still use the proceeds for U.S. training, weapons and logistic support even if it purchases F-16s or F-18s from Belgium
, the Netherlands
or Canada, the White House said.