Lithuania is interested in acquiring up to six Aero Vodochody L-159 light attack aircraft, but is unlikely to issue a formal tender before parliamentary elections in September.

The possible sale of the Czech fighters was discussed during an official visit to Lithuania by Czech prime minister Milos Zeman, which was aimed at developing closer economic ties between the two countries. Zeman presented Lithuanian prime minister Andrius Kubilius with proposals covering the supply of L-159s and an industrial offset package.

Further talks are planned to coincide with Czech defence minister Vladimir Vetchy's trip to Vilnius in June.

The Lithuanian air force operates six Aero-built attack aircraft - four L-39Cs acquired on the second-hand market and two L-39ZAs delivered by the manufacturer two years ago. The country has ambitions to join the European Union and NATO.

Meanwhile, the defence and foreign ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic recently held a bilateral meeting in Krakow to deepen military ties between the two new NATO member countries. The Czech Republic is offering Poland participation in production of the L-159 if it selects the aircraft for its advanced trainer requirement.

The Czech air force has ordered 72 L-159s. The countries are discussing joint procurement of Western supersonic fighters.

The ministers agreed to set up a Czech-Polish commission to co-ordinate arms purchases and indicated Hungary would be invited.

Source: Flight International