The Ministry of Defense of Czech Republic has signed the most expensive contract in its history to buy 24 war planes F-35A to the United States, an operation that amounts to about 6,000 million euros. The agreement provides that the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin send the first fifth-generation fighter in 2031 and ensure that the entire fleet will be in Czechia by 2035.
Currently, the Czech Air Force has 14 JAS-39 Gripen fighters on lease. , which represent an annual outlay of 68 million euros, in a contract that expires in 2027 and that Prague wants to extend until the F-35s are ready, which will have a useful life until 2069, according to the Ministry of Defense. The acquisition of 24 F-35A Lightning II aircraft was approved by the government at the end of last September. Three weeks ago, the executive included the F-35 on the Army’s list of strategic projects, along with the CV90 infantry fighting vehicles.
The Czech Republic thus joins the long list of European countries that have chosen to acquire the American stealth aircraft. Currently, 600 F-35 aircraft are used in ten other EU countries, while their number in the world amounts to 1,000. Greece recently had the green light from the United States Government to purchase 34 F-35 fighters. Two months ago, the Romanian Parliament approved the purchase of 32 F-35s for a value of 6.5 billion dollars (without VAT), which represents the highest investment in the history of the Army of this country, the second poorest in the European Union.
“With this intergovernmental agreement our country and our army enter a new era. An era in which (…) we are in the first league of European NATO countries,” the Czech minister said after signing the agreement. of Defense, Jana Cernochova. “These fifth generation devices are the backbone of the Alliance’s air defense system,” added the minister.
For her part, the Speaker of the Chamber, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, stated that this measure significantly strengthens the country’s defense capacity. “The purchase of 24 F-35 fighters is not a whim. Today, this is a necessity that will significantly modernize our military and act as a deterrent to potential aggressors. “Security is our top priority,” he wrote. However, the opposition in parliament has harshly criticized this operation and believes that we would have to wait two more years to make a decision and thoroughly analyze other options.
The Czech press has reported that the first 12 aircraft will be manufactured in the Italian Cameri plantas declared by President Petr Pavel during his visit to Italy last year.
Part of the agreement are 14 cooperation projects, between manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Pratt&Whitney with 13 Czech companies and universities, for an amount of 612 million euros, where Czech entities will participate in the manufacturing of components, R&D, pilot training and service and maintenance of the devices. Czech companies will participate in four areas of cooperation: component production, research and development, pilot training and maintenance, service and repair of the F-35.