Arms deal gains more benefits

A contract with Russia for the purchase of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft systems has been successfully renegotiated so that the offset benefits for Greece reach $106 million, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said yesterday. The contract for the arms, finalized on July 13 following three months of talks, had originally been signed by the previous PASOK government in 1999 with 73 million euros in offset benefits for Greece. The extra $33 million will be invested in equipping the armed forces to make the best possible use of the new systems which are to be fully integrated into the national air defense network, Spiliotopoulos said. Previously, the offset benefits went (in cash) to a Cypriot offshore company. This time, they will cover the added cost of software integrating the weapons systems, the upgrading of some 500 OSA AK missiles, recognition control systems, thermical visors for anti-tank systems that are already being used by Greece’s armed forces.