The Czech Republic wants to modernize its air force and buy F-35 Lightning II fighter jets from the United States. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense today in Prague. The statement said Defense Minister Jana Ernochová has authorized the start of negotiations with the US government for the purchase of 24 F-35 aircraft.
It was also announced that the Cabinet had canceled the tender for new armored personnel carriers and talks are now underway with the Swedish government for the purchase of CV90 armored personnel carriers.
The Minister announced that she will form an interdepartmental negotiating team to talk with the United States about the purchase of 24 aircraft to equip two squadrons. Observers assume it will be an F-35A. To date, the Czech Air Force has deployed 14 Saab JAS-39 Gripen C combat aircraft leased to Sweden.
F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin welcomed the Czech government’s decision in a statement and announced the US government’s full support for the procurement discussions. The company said that since this is a government-to-government deal, it is best to clarify questions about the F-35 and Czech wishes with the government agencies involved.
According to Minister Černochová, the decision in favor of the F-35 is based on the analysis of the armed forces, which shows that only fifth-generation combat aircraft will be able to meet the mission requirements on future battlefields. On the other hand, a decision on the purchase must be made now, since the costs of weapons systems are rising, while production capacities and raw materials are becoming scarce, which is extending lead times, according to the minister. The minister clarified that the deadlines are already years, with the goal of expiring the lease contract for 14 Saab JAS-39 Gripen in 2027.
The government justifies the expansion of the combat aircraft fleet by saying that the current number is no longer suitable for the current tasks and that the number of projected tasks will continue to increase due to the deteriorating security situation.
“The F-35 Lightning II will remain a very competitive aircraft in 2040, while the so-called 4+ generation will be obsolete by then,” said Chief of Staff Maj.
In addition, the F-35 is not only a combat aircraft, but also provides air defense capabilities, and can serve as a modern surveillance, command, control and communications center, while being part of a vast network of the Internet of Things including drones. Cheka added that the F-35 is capable of performing tasks that are completely beyond the capabilities of current aircraft.
According to the Czech Ministry of Defense, purchasing the F-35 is a cost-effective solution because it will share the same equipment with the United States, Poland and a number of other NATO allies. This will enhance cooperation, joint training and exchange of skills, the ministry said. The Bundeswehr will also purchase more than 30 machines of the same type for the Luftwaffe.
According to press reports, the Czech government has also held talks with Saab in recent months about buying the Gripen E. Lockheed also offered the F-16 Block 70/72 along with the F-35, although this offer was later withdrawn after the side indicated The Czech to prefer the F-35.
editorial / lh