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The Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová signed a purchase of 24 American F-35 fighters

The Minister of Defense, Jana Černochová, together with US Ambassador Bijan Sabet, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Czech Republic and the United States for the acquisition project of 24 fifth-generation F-35 aircraft. This is the most significant purchase in the history of the Czech Army.

The purchase of 24 American F-35A Lightning II aircraft was approved by the government in September 2023. By the end of March 2024, it was necessary to take a series of administrative steps and formally conclude this phase of the strategic project, i.e., to confirm the Memorandum of Understanding between the Czech government and the USA. The Memorandum was signed on Monday, January 29, 2024, by Defense Minister Jana Černochová and US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Bijan Sabet, in the presence of Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, General Karel Řehka.

An integral part of the contract is also the negotiated industrial cooperation, which was contractually concluded last week. There are 11 projects prepared with Lockheed Martin and 3 projects with Pratt & Whitney, totaling 15.3 billion Czech crowns. Thirteen Czech companies and universities will be involved in them. They will participate in four areas: component manufacturing, research and development, pilot training, and maintenance, service, and repairs of the F-35.

The Czech Republic has been negotiating with the American side in recent weeks about the actual signing. A suitable date and place were sought. Given the health problems of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his subsequent convalescence, the above-mentioned variant of the memorandum's conclusion in Prague was eventually chosen.

"I promised that the contract for American F-35 aircraft would be concluded no later than the end of March, and today I fulfilled that promise. With this agreement, our country and also the army enter a new era. An era when we are not only counting soldiers but also modern technology in the first league of European NATO members." "Fifth-generation aircraft are the backbone of the North Atlantic Alliance. Their acquisition will also increase the combat capability of the Czech army," said Minister Jana Černochová after signing.

The procurement process will take eleven years, with the first aircraft arriving in 2031. Alongside gradual payments, the Comprehensive Implementation Plan is being developed, defining the method of introducing the F-35 system into the Czech Armed Forces' environment. Specifically, this involves planning personnel, their training, construction of necessary infrastructure, service and logistic support, development of other support services so that the gradual delivery of all 24 F-35 aircraft proceeds smoothly from the very beginning.

The existing Swedish Gripens will continue their work until 2035, i.e., until the full deployment of the F-35 system. Negotiations on the operation of these aircraft with the Swedish side are intensively ongoing into this period.
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