Poland Weighs Buying U.S. or French War Jets

From United Press International

Poland is considering the purchase of American F-16 or French Mirage 2000 jet fighters because Moscow has hiked prices for its aviation equipment and is reluctant to sell it, military sources said today.

The youth newspaper Sztandar Mlodych said the Kremlin has turned a cold shoulder to Polish military negotiators who recently conducted talks on the purchase of Soviet MIG-29 jet fighters, one of the most technologically advanced planes the Soviets make.

"The military experts are considering such a (purchase) possibility," a Defense Ministry source said when asked about the possibility of purchasing F-16s or Mirage 2000s.

"Preliminary indications are there would be advantages if it happened," said the source, who requested anonymity.

The source said Moscow requested payments for its MIGs in American dollars. It initially offered them for $24 million apiece, and later lowered the price to $18 million, but nevertheless appeared reluctant to sell them.

"The Polish team which conducted talks in Moscow on the purchase of some MIG-29s got an extremely cool reception and encountered a lot of troubles," the newspaper said. "So far it is not sure if more planes of this kind will be delivered to Poland."

Another military expert contacted by United Press International said the unification of Germany has prompted the Soviets to cut the prices of their planes. He said that former East German Communist Party leader Erich Honecker concluded a contract with the Kremlin on the purchase of several dozen MIG-29s, but that Bonn now refuses to take them.

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