Czech Republic snubs Sweden over biggest military purchase plan

Czech Republic snubs Sweden over biggest military purchase plan

In what would be the biggest military purchase in its history, the Czech government announced plans to nearly double the country’s fighter jet fleet by buying American-made planes.

The move, however, has upset Prague’s Swedish partners, who are behind the technologies currently used by the Czech Republic, as well as the opposition, who deplore the increased costs.

“Negotiations will be initiated with American partners to acquire fifth-generation F-35 supersonic general-purpose aircraft. We will also negotiate with Sweden to acquire new infantry fighting vehicles”said Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

The government wants to buy 24 F-35 fighter jets. Currently, the country’s army has only 14 Gripen, but these planes are not owned by the Czech state and are leased from Sweden. The lease agreement is expected to end in 2027 with the possibility of a 2-year extension.

As Hospodářské noviny reports, the planned acquisition is the largest military purchase in Czech history. The reason for this acceleration of the process is the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the “arms race” which, along with inflation, drives up the prices of new military equipment.

The Czech Republic can expect to receive the first deliveries in 2027 at the earliest. The price of an F-35 fighter jet is around 70 million dollars, and varies depending on the equipment requested.

“We are strengthening our defense capability for decades to come and meeting our NATO membership commitments. As the country faces new security challenges, we have decided to modernize the Czech army”added Mr. Fiala.

The Czech Ministry of Defense will soon launch negotiations with Sweden and the United States.

The country’s opposition parties criticize the government for the high price of F-35 jets. In addition, the country should invest in new infrastructure, as it is adapted to Swedish technologies only for the moment;

Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab also expressed disappointment;

“We expected that as a long-term partner of the Czech Republic, with whom we work closely on the Gripen programme, Sweden would also have the opportunity to showcase its current and future capabilities in of Gripen and that the Swedish government has the opportunity to present its offer in full transparency”said Saab CEO Micael Johansson.

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