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Czech Republic submits letter of request to buy F-35

The Czech Republic is to enter into negotiations with the US government for the acquisition of 24 F-35s to replace its leased Gripens. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Czech government has submitted a letter of request to the United States for the procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the move on 3 October, noting that the letter of request for an offer is a non-binding solicitation that indicates interest in opening up negotiations for a purchase.

“The Czech government has authorised the MoD to negotiate the acquisition of aircraft following the expiring lease of 14 Swedish Gripen aircraft,” the MoD said, adding, “Handing over the letter [of intent] is a necessary prerequisite for further negotiations for the American side.”

With the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala having announced his government's decision to acquire the F-35 in June, an interdepartmental negotiating team was formed in August, with initial meetings of the Czech and American expert teams being launched in September. According to the MoD, its representatives will discuss the parameters of the acquisition and operation of the aircraft in the United States in October.

“On 1 October 2023 at the latest, the minister of defence will inform the government about the agreed basic parameters for the acquisition and operation of F-35 aircraft. Based on this, the government will then decide whether the Czech Republic will purchase them,” the MoD said.

As earlier noted by Prime Minister Fiala, the Czech Air Force is looking to field 24 F-35A aircraft to equip two squadrons in Čáslav Air Base.

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