Some criticize Czech Republic’s decision to acquire the F-35
PRAGUE ($1=24.01 Czech Korunas) — The Czech government has decided to make an inquiry to the US about the acquisition of 24 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II next-generation stealth fighters. The decision was announced by the Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic, Jana Cernochova.
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“Today, on the recommendation of the leadership of the Czech Army, the government decided that we will negotiate with the US government for the purchase of F-35 aircraft. The Gripen lease ends in 2027, or 2029, and the 5th generation aircraft is the decision for the future. We have more than a year to negotiate and then the final decision will be made on the purchase itself,” Ms. Cernochova wrote on her Twitter account.
The Czech Air Force currently operates 14 Swedish 4th generation JAS 39C Gripen fighters. The Czech Republic’s decision to start negotiations with the US to acquire the F-35 means that Prague wants to increase the combat capability of its air fleet. This decision does not mean that the Czech Republic will end its cooperation with SAAB.
“This is a strategic long-term decision for the defense of this country and a clear statement of alliance with the USA,” is the general opinion of that part of the Czech society that supports the decision to acquire the American combat aircraft.
Still, there have been criticisms, mostly aimed at the taxpayer money that will be spent if there is a deal between the US and the Czech Republic. “It’s stupid… F 35 is an unnecessary luxury for CR [Czech Republic – ed.], it’s stupid and much more expensive, it should be voted by people who pay taxes… otherwise, it’s pure populism…” he writes one Twitter user responded to the Czech defense minister’s post.
Others believe that a golden opportunity is being missed to get free fighter jets from Sweden refurbished and upgraded. The eventual acquisition of the F-35 means something else for the Czech Republic: in addition to the more expensive fighters, the Czech taxpayer will have to allocate funds for the renovation of the existing air bases that will house the future Czech fleet.
“Excellent (ironically written). Now we will have to rebuild the bases on a completely different technology, and we will purchase equipment many times more expensive than what we have now! At the same time, we can take it from the Swedes for free and pay only for modernization. Now I understand why the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army had to be replaced,” wrote another Twitter user.
“Pure populism won” say another citizen and continues: “20 times more expensive flight hours, tens of billions more to restore bases, train pilots and prepare the entire infrastructure for work. The F-35 has nothing extra that we need in the way our Air Force operates.”
There are criticisms directed not so much at the Czech government’s decision to acquire the F-35s but at the F-35s themselves. Some recall the fact that in recent years a lot of problems in the operation of the combat machine were discovered, which have not yet been solved, as well as the fact that Lockheed Martin still cannot minimize the cost of an hour of flight.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that it became clear this week about the expected written agreement between Lockheed Martin and the F-35 JPO to start lots 15, 16, and 17 of the F-35 program, but the annual production was reduced to 125 fighters, instead of 156 per year. “Yes … the US military themselves are afraid of how they will finance the purchase and operation of the F-35, but we are really fools…” another Czech citizen expressed his opinion.
The Czech Republic’s decision to negotiate with the US over the F-35 could be good news for a third party currently at war. According to the Ukrainian online portal Defense Express, Sweden may agree to give Ukraine the Czech JAS 39C Gripen fighter jets after their lease ends in a few years.
Of course, at the moment there are no official opinions about this option, but if it does take place, the acquisition of 14 JAS 39C Gripen fighters will not seriously strengthen the Ukrainian Air Force, but it will be a foundation laid for the renewal of Ukrainian armaments [if the war is over by then].
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