The government wants to replace gripens with American F-35 fighters

The Czech army should be armed with American F-35 Lightning fighter jets in the future. Ground troops should be reinforced with BAE Systems Swedish CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles. Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) announced the government’s decision on Wednesday.

“We have decided to start negotiations with US partners on acquiring fifth-generation F-35 supersonic multi-role aircraft,” Fiala said.

“We also decided to start negotiations with Sweden on the acquisition of infantry fighting vehicles,” the prime minister added.

The Czech Republic has so far leased 12 Gripen C/D fighter aircraft in single-seat versions and two in two-seat versions from Sweden. They have also been deployed several times to protect the airspace of allies in Iceland and the Baltics. The lease expires in 2027 and can be extended for two years.

Defence Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) has previously announced that she wants to present the government with the army’s recommendations on how the Czech Republic should proceed concerning supersonic aviation. She said the military had “mapped the terrain” and submitted the matter for a political decision.

Earlier, there had been speculation about the US F-35 Lightning aircraft. The number of Czech fighter jets could also increase from 14 to 24. According to earlier estimates by experts, the value of the order will be in the higher tens of billions of crowns, so it will probably be the most expensive military purchase in modern history.

“We cannot postpone the modernization of our army even for one more day,” Černochová said.

The most modern aircraft 

The F-35 Lightning II has been described as the most advanced mass-produced fighter aircraft with a potential service life of 30 to 40 years. It is an aircraft with stealth technology designed to minimize its detectability by radar.

Experts praise its instrumentation, which gives it visibility of what is happening on the battlefield and allows it to communicate and cooperate with friendly equipment.

The disadvantages are, for example, the high cost of operation compared to gripens. Gripens have been flying in the Czech army since 2005, and the Czech Republic leases them from Sweden. At the time, suspicions of corruption accompanied the decision-making process for the new fighter aircraft.