The procurement of aircraft, along with equipment for their maintenance, training, ammunition, and servicing until 2034, is estimated to cost CZK 106 billion (USD 4.58 billion) for Czech taxpayers. The contract will be paid off from 2024 to 2034. Additionally, CZK 44 billion (USD 1.9 billion) will be allocated for infrastructure modernization, fuel, personnel training, and other expenses.
Repayments for the F-35 acquisition will constitute approximately 7.3% of the annual defense budget, which is targeted to reach 2% of the GDP from 2024 to 2034. The first F-35 aircraft, along with trained personnel, are expected to arrive in the Czech Republic by 2031.
Minister Černochová emphasized the importance of involving Czech industry in this transaction. To achieve this, 14 industrial cooperation projects have been prepared, allowing local industry to become part of the global supply chain.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala underscored that the purchase will yield benefits throughout the operational lifespan of the aircraft, as their cost is outweighed by the capabilities they provide.
In the Czech Air Force, the F-35s will replace the 14 leased JAS 39 Gripen C/D aircraft from Sweden by 2035. Additionally, the retirement of 24 domestically produced L-159 aircraft is planned by 2035, which will reduce costs and streamline the fleet. Full operational capability of the F-35 is also expected to be achieved by 2035. The consolidation of the combat aircraft fleet will not necessitate an increase in the personnel of the air force.
Increasing the number of multi-role aircraft from 14 to 24 will enable the Czech Armed Forces to perform all required tasks for national and alliance purposes. The leasing of only 14 Gripens was considered a temporary solution. The F-35s are expected to meet Prague’s requirements even beyond 2040, offering extensive operational prospects. The fact that up to 600 such aircraft will be operational in Europe by 2030 will enhance interoperability with allies and translate into reduced operating and modernization costs. Lockheed Martin has committed to supporting the F-35’s operation until 2080.