VIENNA (May. 18)
Chancellor Bruno Kreisky confirmed today that Austria was considering the purchase of the Israel-made jet interceptor “Kfir” as part of a program to modernize its obsolete airforce. “We are thinking over an offer to buy Israeli fighters of the Kfir type” but “these plans, however, are still in the planning stage, Kreisny said. He added that “there in a lot of other equipment we need more urgently for our army but we will check the Israeli offer very closely.”
The “Kfir” is the first combat plane designed and manufactured in Israel. It was planned after the Six-Day War to replace Mirage jets cut off by the French embargo and is produced by Israel Aircraft Industries.
Reports that Austria may buy the plane appeared this week in Kronen Zeitung. According to the paper, a three-man Austrian delegation would visit Israel shortly to inspect the Kfir. Israel Aircraft Industries, meanwhile, refused to comment on reports that the Israeli government has offered to sell Austria 20 of the jets on very favorable terms. Circles close to the firm contended that the report was leaked by unfriendly elements in order to invite Arab pressure against the deal.
Kreisky reportedly told a delegation of Israeli industrialists visiting Vienna that quality, price and suitability alone would determine the fate of the transaction. He stressed that Austria would not bow to political pressures.