Czech Republic launches negotiations to buy 24 F-35 jets

Czech Republic buy F35
Lockheed Martin F-35A. It is expected to join the Czech Air Force fleet within a few years.

The Government of the Czech Republic announced on Wednesday major new acquisition plans for the modernization of the armed forces. The Cabinet decided to cancel the tender for new infantry fighting vehicles and authorised Defence Minister Jana Černochová to commence negotiations with the Swedish Government to procure the CV90 combat vehicles. Minister Černochová was also authorised to negotiate the procurement of F-35 Lightning II multirole fighters with the United States.

“Today is a crucial day for the future of our defence acquisitions. The Government decided to cancel the tender for new infantry fighting vehicles and authorised me to negotiate the procurement of the Swedish CV90 combat vehicles with the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden. Another point on the agenda of the Government’s session was the future of the Czech supersonic air capability. I was authorised to form an inter-ministerial negotiating team and commence negotiations with the United States Government to procure 24 units of the F-35 Lightning II multirole fighters to equip two squadrons”, Defence Minister Jana Černochová said after the Cabinet session.

The F-35 Lightning II was identified as the best solution to enhance capabilities and national defence posture. “Our decision to select this option is based on the analysis by the Czech Armed Forces, which clearly articulates that only the most advanced 5th generation fighters will be able to meet mission requirements in future battlefields,” explains Minister Černochová and goes on to say that the acquisition needs to be decided now because the costs of weapon systems have been growing continuously while manufacturing capacities and input materials become scarce, which extends the lead times. “We must not hesitate, because the lead times take years,” says the Minister and adds that 2027, when the lease contract for the existing supersonic capability expires, only seems to be far away.

In addition, the F-35 will remain effective for many years to come. “The F-35 Lightning II will represent a highly competitive aircraft even in 2040, whereas the so-called 4+ generation of fighters will have become obsolete by then. In addition, the F-35 is not just a fighter – it provides an aerial capability combining a fighter, air defence element, as well as cutting-edge surveillance and command, control and communication centre while being part of a broad network of Internet of Things including unmanned aerial vehicles, and is able to perform missions that are completely outside the capabilities of the current aircraft,” Chief of General Staff Major General Karel Řehka elaborates on the requirement of the Czech Armed Forces.

Czech officials said the need to increase the number of aircraft stems from the worsening of the security situation in the area and the consequent increase in the volume of missions to be carried out. Furthermore, they undelined that the F-35 is the most cost-effective solution as it will allow them to share the same equipment with the United States, Poland and a number of other NATO allies. This will strengthen cooperation, joint training and sharing of capabilities with the overall effect of strengthening the defense posture of the Czech Republic.

The fighter fleet of the Czech Air Force currently consists of 12 Gripen aircraft leased from Sweden. Swedish Ambassador to the Czech Republic Fredrik Jörgensen recently said these aircraft could be transferred at no cost to the Czech Republic should the nation purchase new Gripens (instead of F-35s).

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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