According to the Czech media outlet, that Sweden is ready to offer the Czech Republic a free transfer of Gripens that it leased from Stockholm.
The Swedish ambassador to the Czech Republic, Fredrik Jörgensen, revealed in an interview with Seznam Zprávy, “It is possible to transfer these currently leased aircraft to the Czech Republic at virtually zero cost. They’ve already been paid; it’s like a leased car.”
“We would consider them paid off, and on this basis, we could extend the cooperation system to include C series Gripens or E series Gripens,” he added.
The news comes as the government of the Czech Republic is considering purchasing 24 fighters as the lease for the Gripens expires in 2027.
The F-35A is considered to be among the top contenders, while other options include the updated JAS-39 Gripen E/F, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Lockheed Martin F-16V.
The F-35 certainly meets all of the requirements desired by the Czech military, including the ability to provide ground support operations in all weather conditions, day and night, as well as to offer supersonic capabilities for Air Policing operations.
More importantly, the Czech Air Force is looking to achieve full interoperability with other NATO members.
A possible acquisition of the F-35 would help tie the Czech Air Force, and the Czech Republic, even more closely to the United States and strengthen ties between the two nations. In addition, Poland and Germany are on-board to acquire the fifth-generation, multirole stealth aircraft, while Greece has also expressed interest in becoming a future operator of the Lightning II.
The government may act upon this issue in July. “The government should probably deal with the future of supersonic aviation in July. It will be a political decision based on the expert recommendation of the army, which is assessing possible options,” Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) told Seznam Zprávy.
The Czech Republic has made it clear that it does not want fighter jets in the form of a lease and instead intends to purchase 24 fighters or two squadrons. The minister is, however, hesitant to declare her current preference for a particular side. The Americans are in a stronger negotiating position, claims Seznam Zprávy.
Several sources, including Seznam Zprávy, have reported that the current administration plans to purchase American fighter jets. However, the report said that the Swedes are not giving up and will continue to lobby the Czech Republic for the purchase of their Gripens until the very last minute.