According to local media Czech Ministry of Defense is considering buying at least 24 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters to replace 14 JAS-39 Gripen C/D fighters currently on lease from the Swedish manufacturer Saab until 2027.
Following a study carried out to assess the needs of its combat aviation, the Czech Air Force “has already passed on to the ministry its idea of which aircraft should protect the Czech airspace in the coming years,” said the local daily Echo24 on June 20, 2022.
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.
“You’ll hear more about it soon,” J.R. McDonald, the vice president of F-35 business development at Lockheed Martin, told journalists at a news conference earlier this month at the ILA Berlin Air Show trade fair regarding Germany’s acquisition as well as the potential for Athens to adopt the fighter.
“As far as I know, the Czech Republic is closer to making a decision,” McDonald added.
Should the Czech Republic move forward with the F-35, any aircraft it receives would also be equipped with the latest modernization package, which is currently the Block 4. That would provide integration of some new weapon systems in addition to upgrading software and other parts of the aircraft.
Moreover, the integration of other U.S.-origin weapons, the Block 4 F-35s could also employ the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile (an airborne variant of the Naval Strike Missile), as well as the European consortium’s MBDA Meteor, ASRAAM and Spear missiles. It would be a good move for the Czech Republic and for NATO.
“For any nation that is part of NATO or worried about Russian aggression in Europe, there is only one fighter jet worth considering purchasing: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” explained Harry J. Kazianis, President of the Rogue States Project.
Czech and mate indeed.