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Czech Republic gives green light to F-35 buy

The Czech Republic is to join other European NATO countries, including Denmark (aircraft pictured), in fielding the F-35 Lightning II. (Danish MoD/Lockheed Martin)

The Czech Republic has decided to proceed with a procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the announcement that 24 aircraft will be acquired.

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 27 September that the government had approved the acquisition as the Czech Air Force (CzAF) looks to replace its leased Saab Gripen C/D aircraft.

β€œThe future of the Czech Air Force for the next decades will be ensured by [F-35] fifth-generation aircraft, which will allow the Army of the Czech Republic to effectively defend our and allied territory,” the MoD said in a letter. β€œAt its meeting on [27 September], the government approved the purchase of 24 [F-35] fifth-generation aircraft, including a comprehensive financing plan.”

While the letter did not disclose the variant of F-35 to be acquired, it will likely be the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A, in service with the US Air Force (USAF) and most international customers. These will be at the latest Technology Refresh-3 (TR-3) Block 4 standard.

News of the Czech government approval came three months after the US government cleared the potential sale of the F-35 to the Eastern European country in June. At that time, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) covered up to 24 aircraft, air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, spares, training, and support for an estimated USD5.62 billion. The actual cost quoted by the Czech MoD is USD4.57 billion.

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