Gripen offer considered best deal

A commission of experts has advised the Czech government to accept Sweden's offer of Gripen fighter jets to replace the Czech Republic's aging fleet of Soviet made MIG-21s. The commission assessed five offers in all. The US, Belgium, and the Netherlands offered second-hand F-16 planes while Canada competed with its two-engine F-18s. Sweden got the edge over its rivals by offering brand new places at a leasing price ten percent lower than the threshold put down by the Czech Defense Ministry. The Czech government is to make a final decision by the end of the year. If the proposal is approved 14 Gripen jets will replace the aging MIG 21s in 2005.