TechCzech Republic secures $6.5bn deal for 24 F-35 fighter jets in historic military upgrade

Czech Republic secures $6.5bn deal for 24 F‑35 fighter jets in historic military upgrade

F-35
F-35
Images source: © X, @LockheedMartin
7:28 AM EST, January 30, 2024

The Czech Republic's interest in these fighter jets has been public information, including the intended quantity and associated costs. It has now been confirmed that the Czechs will spend over $6.5 billion on 24 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.

This cost covers the aircraft, equipment, and industrial cooperation. The projects involve 11 with Lockheed Martin and 3 with Pratt & Whitney, extending to 13 Czech companies and higher education institutions. Despite these inclusions, the total expense outpaces what other countries paid for the F-35 just a few years back. For comparison, Poland paid $4.6 billion for 32 units four years ago, with production commencing in April 2023, while Switzerland recently spent $5.5 billion on 36 units.

How much does the F-35 cost? Long queues for modern fighter jets

Representatives of the Czech army and politicians laud the modern F-35s as the future backbone of their fleet. This phrase rings true both literally and figuratively upon considering the delivery schedule. Long term patience will be required, as the delivery of the F-35s to the Czech Republic is projected to take eleven years. The first fleet is expected to arrive in 2031, and the last only four years later in 2035.

"The F-35 is the only solution that enables us to hold our ground on the battlefields of the future. It also serves as a guarantee of our effective defense against external aggression, side by side with our allies if the need arises," stated General Karel Řehka, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic.

F-35 key features

The F-35, manufactured by American corporation Lockheed Martin, is one of the most technologically advanced fighter jets globally. It stands over 49 feet long and sports a wingspan of nearly 36 feet. Distinctive characteristics include its low visibility in flight and the ability to reach speeds of 1.8 Mach (over 1,242 mph), powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135-100 engine. Beyond its conventional weaponry (including a 25 mm caliber gun, suspended missiles, and bombs), the F-35 boasts extensive capabilities in reconnaissance and electronic warfare, with additional adaptation for air refueling.

Until the arrival of the F-35s, Czech combat aviation will continue to rely on the Swedish JAS 39C/JAS 39D.

"With the signing of the offer and acceptance letter between the governments of the Czech Republic and the USA, the Czech Republic becomes the 18th country to join the global F-35 program. It is an honor to work with the Czech Republic's Air Force, as their F-35s join those of other European countries in enhancing and developing interoperability, significantly increasing NATO's deterrence capabilities," said Bridget Lauderdale, Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin.

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