28th September 2023 – (Prague) The Czech government has given its approval for the acquisition of 24 U.S. F-35 fighter jets, marking a significant milestone in the country’s defence capabilities. The Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday that the state will invest 150 billion Czech crowns (equivalent to 6.48 billion U.S. dollars) in this ambitious procurement, making it one of the largest and most expensive purchases in the history of the Czech Republic.
Currently, the Czech Republic has been leasing 14 Gripen jets from Sweden, but this lease is set to expire by 2027, as reported by local media. The new fleet of F-35 aircraft is expected to be made available to the Czech Republic starting from 2029, with the final delivery scheduled for 2035.
While some opposition political parties have voiced concerns about the substantial expenditure at a time when the state budget requires stabilization, representatives from the military argue that the purchase is necessary to enhance national security.
Defense Minister Jana Cernochova assured, “I can guarantee that this project will not jeopardize other modernization initiatives of the Czech Republic’s armed forces. On the contrary, it will complement and enhance the capabilities we are building.”
In addition to bolstering defence capabilities, the procurement of the F-35 fighter jets is expected to have a positive impact on the domestic industry. The defence ministry has outlined plans for up to 14 projects related to the purchase, which will involve collaboration with Czech companies.
Simultaneously, on Wednesday, the Czech government also approved a draft state budget for the upcoming year, projecting a deficit of 252 billion Czech crowns. Notably, the country’s defence spending is set to surpass 2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the first time in 2024, amounting to nearly 160 billion Czech crowns, according to the defence ministry. (1 U.S. dollar is equivalent to 23.16 Czech crowns)