Listen, I am not joking
The government of the Hungarian Republic announced the other day through their official channels, that they had accepted the offer of the USA to take on lease 24 fighter planes F-16A and B to be refurbished by the supplier at the cost of the Hungarian Government. The framework of the project contains other pleasures for us as well, such as training of the pilots and other personnel, reconstruction of airfields, etc. The total cost of the project is of the order of - they say - 160 billion HUF, i.e. more than half a billion USD to be paid by the people of Hungary, where at least 30% of the population is living below any human standard.
The aim of the project is said to satisfy the demand of NATO to have fighters fitting into NATO specifications (compatible ones) and capable to defend the air-space of Hungary, of this new bastion of NATO.
It does not bother our beloved leaders that they do not have the right to make such decisions without the approval of the Parliament, that the project should have been pushed through the prescribed tendering. It is also not worrying them that both the educational and medical systems of the country are on the edge of collapse.
And they made definitely the best selection out of the three options open for Hungary.
The first option is to convert the existing MIG-29 fleet of about 26 pcs into NATO-specific ones. A letter of intent or more has been signed not long ago by the Ministry of Defence (part of the government or am I wrong?) with a consortium of German and Russian parties to this effect. I am almost sure for much less than the above indicated published figure. These fighters are not young chaps either, their age is said to be around 10 years (not in use).
The second option is to take on lease the Swedish SAAB's absolutely new - both as design and product – Grippens, modern, top aircrafts, definitely compatible ones, European ones, metric ones. The amount involved is not known officially, but rumours say that the project is much cheaper than the American one. But I do not want to lobby for them.
The third option is the one that is so close to the hearts and other parts of the decision-makers: victor over so many MIGs and other Russian aircrafts piloted by inferior pilots, the more than 27 years old design, 24 fighters conserved and stored in desert airfields. The age of these chaps must be not less than 20 years, since F-16s of A and B were manufactured in the 70s. My good God, what a strong defence of the easternmost bastion of NATO!
It is awful to have stupid (or what else should one think about them, I am afraid to use the right expression) rulers at home, it is also not very pleasant to understand that our new big brother is trying to sell glass beads to his new and very poor protégé, but it is absolutely unbearable to realise that they both consider that we, citizens of Hungary are silly, weak, tongue-tied nobodies.
The most beautiful side of the story is that nobody needs these fighters at all, none of the above described ones. No more MIGs, no new Grippens and definitely no scrap helps this country to build himself stronger. I do not need them, the physicians and teachers, who get less than USD 300,-/month gross, do not dream of consuming warplanes as their Sunday lunch, our workers, whos everage salary is of the same size, definitely do not need them as garden-tools and I am not talking about our peasantry, one third of which is just about losing their bread because of the stupidity of the same government and who will not be able to recover the lost bread using the imported aircrafts for any purpose.
This is my very well thought over opinion. And I am not alone. NATO accepted 8 (EIGHT) compatible fighters for the Hungarian Air Force. It would be enough to convert 8 MIGs. General L. Klaus Neumann also declared during his official visit to Hungary in March 1998, that (I translate roughly from Hungarian – Magyar Hirlap, 17th March 1998) "-in the opinion of NATO such wasting would be to procure modern fighters, of which the member countries have enough." I believe his brain could not image scrap at all. Who needs them then? As usual in such cases: the decision-makers themselves and whoever may expect good profit or at least some pocket-money. The oil (kerosene)-maffia, for example. Do you know how much kerosene will be consumed by these useless scrap in a single year?
Listen, I am not joking- one of the worst possible steps - for the last couple of decades - to spend people's money is on the way. Stop this crazyness, if you have some power.
Try to convince the decision-makers that 160 billion HUF is just what is needed to help the medical and educational system stand up. This would make the country much stronger than 24 scrap-fighters from an American desert.
Dear reader, if you are Citizen of the United States of America, feel ashamed, share our shame. I hope you understand my feelings!
Have a look at what we are talking about:
Some additional information:
1. There are 380 pcs of F-16 on one single desert airbase in the USA : AMARC.
2. According to an expert, F-16s are built using inch-system. If so, even handtools will have to be replaced on our airforce bases.
3. The decision-makers believe everything will be renewed on the scrap fighters. Stupidity: Basic parts like the fuselage cannot be replaced (otherwise it would be easier to deliver new aircrafts) and they are the main factors that determine the age of a plane, not engines and instruments.
4. Read this article. No comments are necessary, accepting the price (in 1997!!) for new F-16s. 12 million a piece!
Boneyard of planes: How Pak F-16s waste in the desert
WASHINGTON, June 14: Nothing is more painful to the Pakistani establishment than a reminder of the fate of 28 F-16 fighter planes it contracted to buy from the United States. Islamabad was denied the planes -- already paid for and made to order -- under the Pressler Amendment, which enjoined the US President to certify that Islamabad was not engaged in making nuclear weapons before such a sale could be made. It is now more than five years since the deal was signed, sealed and shafted. Meanwhile, what of the planes?
Last week, just when it looked as if some of the F-16s would be sold to Indonesia, at a vastly discounted price of $ 12 million a piece, the Suharto government pulled the plug on the deal because of American criticism of its regime. Rolled out of the hangars for an airing and cranked up to rev the engines, the planes were rolled back again. The controversy apart, what is happening physically to the F-16s is in itself a fascinating story. US and Pakistani officials have often spoken vaguely of the planes being stored at an air base in Arizona. But inquiries made by The Indian Express reveal the 28 F-16s are parked at the Davis-Monthan Air Force base, a part of which is otherwise known as the Boneyard. And therein lies a bizarre story.
Created at the end of World War II, the Boneyard is officially called the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC). The inventory of the Boneyard would not only put the combined air power of India and Pakistan (not to speak of the small countries) to shame, but also overshadow the US Air Force itself. At last count, the Boneyard housed some 5200 planes in its inventory, including over 400 cargo planes, 500 helicopters, 500 trainers, 1000 ground attack jets and 2000 fighter jets. The items ranged from planes built in the 1950s to those like the F-16s made in the early 1990s.
Military planners say the planes in the Boneyard are mostly obsolete and it primarily serves as a store of spare parts. But other arms experts contest this, arguing that many of the planes in the Boneyard are eminently serviceable, and some, like the Pakistani F-16s, are in relatively new condition. The obsolescence factor is also brought on by arms factories constantly upgrading the planes, sometimes without any particular need.
``There is a bigger air force out there in the desert than can be found any where else in the world. Yet the government is going ahead an spending billions on creating a new generation of planes like the F-22,'' says Lora Lumpe, an arms sales expert with the Federation of American Scientists.
Lumpe also told The Indian Express that she could not recall a precedent for the kind of snafu between the United States and Pakistan over the F-16s.
What makes the fate of the Pakistani jets all the more uncertain is that the Boneyard already has nearly 400 F-16s on its roster, most of them in good condition. Since AMARC is run as a profit center, the administration is equally keen that these planes be sold too. Last year, the Boneyard chalked up sales of $ 800 million and returned 125 planes to service.
Nearly a dozen countries in the world outside Pakistan -- Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, Singapore and South Korea among others have F-16s in their air force. But none of them have shown any interest in the Pakistani F-16s despite prodding by the Clinton administration. Chile is the latest country to want F-16s -- and the White House recently allowed Lockheed Martin to submit technical bids for F-16 sales but arms industry types say it will want new planes.
Philippines, another possibility, has hummed and hawed, while Pakistan's allies like Saudi Arabia have shown no interest.
Experts say the problem with selling the Pakistani F-16s is that they have been made to order for Islamabad with specific munitions and avionics. In fact, they are even said to have PAF insignia and colours painted on them. ``They are still excellent planes, but as the weeks and months go by they will become less and less attractive,'' says Joel Johnson of the Aerospace Industries Association.
Johnson says planes that head for the Boneyard have four uses: they are kept for possible reuse; they are scavenged for spare parts; they are used as drones for target shooting; and finally, the most hopeless ones, are melted down for scrap metal.
While the Pak F-16s are still in the first category, experts say their market value is diminishing everyday, despite the excellent storage facilities available in Arizona. In fact, AMARC was located in Arizona because the dry desert climate allows for rust-free storage. ``But no matter how well you lubricate them, vinyl them and mothball them, it is never the same,'' said one arms expert.
Although the US keeps assuring Pakistan that the planes are being turned over regularly and kept in flying condition even as they look for buyers, an increasingly desperate and broke Pakistan is now threatening to go to court over the issue. What has put Islamabad in a funk is that its weak financial condition has stymied its efforts to procure other fighter planes like the Mirage even as India has inducted the Sukhoi-30 fighter planes into its air force.
Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.