Czech Republic to seek deal for F-35 fighter jets to replace its Gripen

European country intends to acquire 24 aircraft that will replace the Saab Gripen currently operating under lease

The Czech Republic has expressed its intention to negotiate the acquisition of Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets. The 5th generation aircraft is expected to replace the leased Saab Gripen C/D.

The decision to choose the F-35 was announced by Prime Minister Petr Fiala on Wednesday. “These are important decisions at a time when the security of Europe and the Czech Republic faces new challenges caused by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” he said.

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According to Defense Minister Jana Cernochova, the Czech Air Force intends to have 24 F-35 fighter jets and the negotiation should be concluded by October 2023.

“Our decision to select this option is based on the analysis by the Czech armed forces, which clearly articulates that only the most-advanced fifth-generation fighters will be able to meet mission requirements in future battlefields,” she said.

Currently, the country’s air defense is carried out by 14 Saab Gripen C/D fighter jets, whose leasing contract expires in 2027. The Swedish government even expressed its intention to donate the aircraft if the Czechs chose the new Gripen E/F.

Czech Gripens (Milan Nykodym)

No competitors

With the Czech Republic, there are already five nations that have selected the F-35 in recent months. Switzerland, Finland, Canada and Germany have announced agreements to operate Lockheed Martin’s advanced fighter jet, which has outperformed competitors such as the older-design Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Saab Gripen.

The US government itself, which had reduced the pace of deliveries of the fighter, announced this week that it had reached an agreement to acquire 375 new F-35s for the armed forces.

The only 5th generation fighter available on the market at the moment, the F-35 has taken advantage not only for its stealth capability, but for its modular design, which allows for technological upgrades in the future, a way to make the investment more viable in the long term.

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