Czech Republic ignored Gripen and officially asked for the F-35
PRAGUE ($1=25.17 Czech Korunas) — The Czech Republic has officially requested the US to purchase 24 units of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. This means that after the lease of the Swedish SAAB Gripen, which the Czech Republic uses, ends, Prague does not intend to accept a new offer from Stockholm.
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InfoDefense informs that the Czech Republic has sent an official request for a proposal. This is common practice in the international arms trade. According to the Spanish source, in the second half of this month, the negotiations between the Czech Republic and the USA will continue. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that negotiations between the two countries began last September.
In 2027, the lease of the Czech Republic for the 14 Swedish fighters expires. The Czech government, in the person of Defense Minister Jana Chernohova, intends to acquire the F-35 because it is a “fighter for the future”. The JAS 39C Gripen is a 4++ fighter and will be obsolete by 2027. The minister called for no hesitation about this planned purchase of fighter jets “because delivery times are years away.”
The Chief of the Czech General Staff, Major General Karel Rehka, also welcomed the decision to purchase the American stealth fighters of the fifth generation. He stated that the F-35 is not just a fighter, but an air capability that combines a fighter, an air defense element, as well as a state-of-the-art surveillance and command center.
Yana Chernohova emphasized that only the F-35 can meet the requirements of the Czech government to guarantee the security of her country at the present moment.
F-35 in Europe
Currently, 10 European countries have acquired or are expecting delivery of the F-35 Lightning II. Five of them are part of the Lockheed Martin program. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the Pentagon also included Spain, Romania, Greece, and Poland in its report, the last two of which are already in a relatively advanced phase of negotiations.
Rumors link the acquisition of the F-35 by the Czech Republic to the situation in Ukraine. Months ago, the Ukrainian online portal wrote that the Czech Republic can provide Ukraine with its Gripen, after the expiration of their lease and the acquisition of the American fighters. However, this news was not confirmed by any Czech representative. If such an intention does arise, Sweden will be the country that will decide the future of its Gripens. At the moment, the Swedish flagship remains in the Czech Air Force.
The decision of the Czech Republic to purchase the F-35 was announced already in June of this year. The Minister of Defense published an official statement on Twitter on this occasion. However, a section of society still does not want the F-35 and criticizes the government.
“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…” a Twitter user responded to the Czech defense minister’s post.
“Excellent. 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,” says 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.
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