The Czech Republic has signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to purchase 24 F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft.
The foreign military sale will include 11 projects valued at 15.3 billion korunas ($6.6 billion) with F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor.
Three additional projects will be signed with American aerospace company Pratt & Whitney throughout the program.
Simultaneously, 13 Czech industrial partners and academia will be selected to participate in component fabrication, research and development, pilot competency, and aircraft sustainment.
In addition to the fleet, the country will receive personnel training, logistical support, and related services to secure the delivery up to its completion.
‘Whole New Era’
The Czech government wrote that its future F-35 fleet will address modern warfare requirements while maintaining “effective defense along with Allies against external aggression if needed.”
“This government-to-government agreement brings our country and its Armed forces into a whole new era, in which not only our service members but also modern equipment rank us into the first league of European NATO Allies,” Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová stated.
“As a matter of fact, fifth-generation aircraft are backbone fighters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Moreover, their procurement will significantly increase combat readiness of the Czech Armed Forces.”
Latest Global F-35 Partner
The signing of Czechia’s official intent makes the republic the 18th nation to join the global F-35 program, according to Lockheed.
“We are honored to partner with the Czech Republic Air Force as its F-35s join other European nations in strengthening and growing interoperability, significantly increasing NATO’s deterrent capability,” Lockheed Martin F-35 Program Manager Bridget Lauderdale said.
“The F-35 is the best solution for the Czech Republic’s future fighter fleet with 5th Generation capabilities enhancing the nation’s effectiveness in the 21st Century Security battlespace.”
Prague’s F-35 Program
The agreement follows the US State Department’s approval of the F-35 sale to Prague in June 2023.
The announcement indicated that the aircraft would be in conventional take-off and landing configuration with Sidewinder missiles, StormBreaker precision-guided bombs, AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles, and Pratt & Whitney propulsion systems.
The plan to acquire the aircraft was revealed in 2022 to replace Czechia’s existing Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets set to retire in 2027.