Air Force

Czech Republic Considers a Larger F-35 Acquisition

Photo. Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland/USAF

Czech MoD has sent a LOR to the US Administration, on procurement of 24 5th-gen. Lockheed Martin F-35A jets. The agreement value may be as high as several bn. CZK. It would be the most expensive procurement that the Czech Military has launched in its modern history.

According to the Czech media outlets, the LOR on that matter was sent on 3rd October. More interestingly, the procurement request concerns 24, instead of the previously announced 14 aircraft. It also includes training and support services. Prague authorized the head of the Czech MoD, Jana Černochova, to engage in talks with the US government, on procurement of the 5th generation F-35 Lightning II MRCA.

Back then, a quantity of 12-14 jets was mentioned, in the context of the replacement of the Czech Saab JAS 39C/D Gripens (12 examples in use now). These have been leased from Sweden, with the relevant agreement expiring in 2027. It can be extended for another two years, without any negotiation involved. This would give Prague enough time to secure deliveries, provided the contract is signed relatively soon. And the Czech Republic has been progressing at a rapid pace. In July, during ILA 2022 in Berlin, we found out that talks on that acquisition, between Lockheed Martin and the Czech Republic, had already been underway.

Considering the price tag associated with the F-35A, even as the price is going down all the time, Petr Fiala's government would face a major challenge, negotiating the most valuable contract in the modern era history of the Czech Armed Forces.

The negotiation with the Americans would be a major challenge for Černochova, who also said that if no conclusion is reached by October 2023, other solutions would also be given consideration. This stance is justified by the fact that the leasing of the Swedish JAS39 Gripens would come to an end in 2027, and can be extended to 2029. Up until then, new aircraft shall be commissioned, regardless of the type. Extension of the Gripen deal term is also a possible solution.