On Wednesday, the government granted approval for the purchase of 24 F-35 aircraft, totaling 106 billion crowns in expenses, as announced by Prime Minister Petr Fiala of the ODS party. He emphasized that this decision represents a long-term solution. These new US fighter jets will take the place of the currently leased Gripen fighters in the Czech Republic, with the lease set to expire in 2027.
The initial batch of these aircraft is anticipated to be delivered to the army by 2029, with the complete fleet expected to be in operation by 2035. Prime Minister Fiala confirmed that the funding for this acquisition will be drawn from the defense ministry’s budget.
Defence Minister Jana Černochová, also a member of the ODS party, stressed the necessity of this purchase, stating that there is no time for temporary or makeshift solutions. She further highlighted that the life expectancy of these aircraft is projected to extend at least until 2069. The acquisition itself is budgeted at 106 billion crowns, with an additional 44 billion crowns allocated for the preparations and operational readiness. There are also plans to involve domestic industries in the process.
Karel Rehka, the Chief of the General Staff, expressed admiration for the government’s bold decision, emphasizing that it aligns with the army’s recommendations. The army had advocated for the acquisition of 5th generation aircraft, and Rehka confirmed that the F-35s will not only replace the Gripen fighters but also the L-159 fighter jets. He underscored the importance of acquiring this capability for future battlefield needs, characterizing it as a forward-looking move.