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Czech Republic signs LOA for F-35

A model of Lockheed Martin F-35A in Czech colours at the IQPC International Fighter Conference on 6 November 2023. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Czech Republic has signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the country's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 29 January.

The LOA for 24 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A aircraft was signed four months after the Czech government approved the acquisition in September 2023, clearing the Czech Air Force (CzAF) to begin the process of replacing its leased Saab Gripen C/D aircraft and its Aero L-159 aircraft also.

“I promised that the contract for American F-35 aircraft would be concluded by the end of March at the latest, and today I fulfilled this promise. With this intergovernmental agreement, our country and also the armed forces enter a new era,” Czech Minister of Defence Jana Černochová said during the signing ceremony.

When the US State Department approved the sale to the Czech Republic in June 2023, the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) covered the aircraft, air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, spares, training, and support for an estimated USD5.62 billion, while the actual cost quoted by the Czech MoD is USD4.57 billion.

The procurement programme for the aircraft, their related equipment, and weapons will run from 2024 to 2034, with all aircraft being in service by 2035. Once in service, the type will be operated out of Čáslav Air Base.

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