The Czech Republic’s government formally announced that it would replace its current fleet of Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Local news station Czech Radio said Defence Minister Jana Černochová and US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Bijan Sabet signed an agreement for 24 F-35 stealth fighter jets. The deal is valued at 150 billion Czech koruna (or $6.6 billion), and is considered the largest single purchase for the Czech military.
“By signing this intergovernmental agreement, our country and also our army enter a new era,” Černochová said
The first F-35 will be delivered in 2031, and the rest by 2035.
The first jets should arrive in the country in 2031, the rest will be delivered by 2035. The US aircraft will replace the Swedish Gripen fighters, which Czechia now leases for CZK 1.7 billion a year. The government approved the purchase at the end of last year. -Czech Radio
“The F-35 is the only system that can help us succeed in the future’s battlegrounds, and that in the case of need, we’ll manage to effectively defend ourselves against aggression, together with our allies,” chief of the general staff Lt. Gen. Karel Rehka said, who was quoted by The Washington Post.
This comes amid rising tensions in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific Region as the world teeters on the edge of major conflict.
The US has spent years creating F-35 friend circles in allied countries surrounding adversaries.
The stealth jet is a cornerstone of airpower that helps the West enforce a global security blanket through unmatched connectivity and lethality worldwide.