The Czech government has given its final approval to the buy of 24 Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35As, the country’s Ministry of Defense said on Sept. 27.

“The financing of the F-35 is being prepared as comprehensive, so it includes everything that is necessary…to fully operate the F-35, carry out maintenance, repairs, prepare the infrastructure and buy the necessary amount of ammunition,” the ministry said. “No additional costs will be added…The acquisition process will take place over 11 years within the defense budget. The money will be released gradually and will not be a major burden on the military budget, thanks to which the F-35 will not jeopardize other necessary projects. The first airplanes are to arrive in the Czech Republic at the beginning of the next decade,”

Russia’s second assault on Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year spurred NATO concerns on how the alliance will be able to deter future Russian aggression.

“The F-35’s growing presence across Europe is a powerful example of alliance-based deterrence and is setting the foundation for NATO and allied nation’s next generation air power capability,” Lockheed Martin said on Sept. 27.

Less than a month after Russia’s invasion last year, Germany announced its plan

to buy 35 F-35As to replace the Tornado fighters in the German fleet by 2030 (Defense Daily, March 14, 2022). Last December, Germany became the ninth foreign military sales country for the F-35.

In addition to Germany’s, Finland’s and Switzerland’s F-35 contract signings last year, the State Department in June approved a $5.62 billion deal with the Czech Republic for the 24 F-35s and related equipment to replace that country’s Saab Gripen fighters.

The latter’s service is to end in 2035 when the Czech Republic envisions full operational capability for the F-35A. The State Department’s June approval of the Czech deal also includes 70 RTX [RTX] AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles, 80 GBU-53/B StormBreaker precision-guided glide bombs and 50 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles.

Czech Lt. Gen. Karel Řehka, the chief of the general staff, said in a ministry statement on Sept. 27 that “the machines of the 5th generation are the only ones that can withstand the battlefields of the future and which will also be a guarantee that, if necessary, we can effectively defend ourselves together with our allies against external aggression.”

“The main features of the F-35 are a combination of minimal visibility to radars and the ability to collect and process data in real time that can be distributed to those who need it,” Řehka said. “We have to realize that with the large number of these machines that will operate in Europe and their interconnection, we will be able to use sensors and information from our allies. We’re talking about a network of more than six hundred aircraft here, and that’s a force with major deterrence potential to deter a possible adversary from trying to attack us.”

Czech Minister of Defense Jana Černochová said on Sept. 27 that the Czechs “have 14 industrial cooperation projects ready for Czech companies in less than a year, including the possibility of direct involvement in the global supply chain for F-35 aircraft.”