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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 321-00
June 09, 2000

PORTUGAL JOINS F-16 CONSORTIUM

The government of Portugal joined the F-16 Multinational Fighter Program (MNFP) in a signing ceremony held at NATO Headquarters today.

The F-16 MNFP is an organization begun in 1975 by Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and the United States to develop and produce the F-16 multi-role fighter. After the F-16 aircraft were produced and delivered, the partnership continued with the goal of cooperatively developing long-term upgrades and sustaining each nation's F-16 fleet.

Portugal's membership in the MNFP was formalized with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the defense ministers of the five European member nations and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Portugal into this special organization," said Cohen. "Portugal's accession into the MNFP benefits all MNFP members, and will facilitate Portugal's goal of attaining commonality and interoperability within NATO. The addition of the Portuguese Air Force strengthens the MNFP, and ultimately strengthens NATO."

Portugal has 45 F-16 aircraft, and expressed interest in the MNFP to facilitate its goal of commonality and interoperability within NATO. In addition to participating in the MNFP's continued long-term development and sustainment of F-16 A/B aircraft, Portugal's membership will result in cost savings for all MNFP members.

"The addition of Portugal into the MNFP improves the affordability and continued superior performance of upgraded F-16s well into the 21st century," said Cohen.

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