America’s F-35 is the frontrunner to replace the Czech Republic’s fleet of 14 leased Gripen fighter aircraft, Echo24 reported, citing sources.
The country is also considering the Gripen E/F and the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace the Jas-39 Gripen, whose 17-year-lease expires in 2027, the Prague-based outlet added.
The likelihood that the 1.7 billion Czech koruna ($72 million) per annum lease will be renewed is low, as the country is looking to buy a more modern aircraft. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has heightened the seriousness of the effort, the outlet stated.
‘Most Modern Fighter’
The F-35 is considered the best option, as it is the “most modern fighter aircraft in the world,” capable of serving the Czech Air Force for another four decades, Echo24 wrote, citing sources from the ministry of defense.
The outlet virtually ruled out the F-16, calling it technologically on par with the Jas-39.
The nuclear-capable, fifth-generation F-35 is expected to cost around $85 to $90 million per unit, and the purchase would be made government-to-government.
The country is looking to buy 24 F-35s, adding another tactical squadron to its fleet.