The government of the Czech Republic has given its green light to the defense ministry to start negotiations for the purchase of F-35 fighters and CV90 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV).
It is worth noting that the defense ministry will now start the negotiation process with the Swedish government after previously cancelling the tender to procure a new fleet of IFVs in November last year. The CV90 was one one of the contenders in that competition.
“Today is a crucial day for the future of our defense acquisitions. The government decided to cancel the tender for new infantry fighting vehicles and authorized me to negotiate the procurement of the Swedish CV90 combat vehicles with the government of the Kingdom of Sweden,” defense minister Jana Černochová said after the cabinet session.
“Another point on the agenda of the government’s session was the future of the Czech supersonic air capability. I was authorized to form an inter-ministerial negotiating team and commence negotiations with the United States to procure 24 units of the F-35 Lightning II multirole fighters to equip two squadrons,” Černochová added.
The 24 F-35 Lightning II aircraft would complement and eventually succeed the 14-strong Gripen fleet currently in service with the Czech Air Force.
“Our decision to select this option is based on the analysis by the Czech Armed Forces, which clearly articulates that only the most advanced 5th generation fighters will be able to meet mission requirements in future battlefields,” Černochová explained, adding that the acquisition needs to be decided now because the costs of weapon systems have been growing continuously while manufacturing capacities and input materials become scarce, which extends the lead times.
Černochová also noted that 2027, the expiry date of the lease contract for the Gripen fighters, “only seems to be far away.”
“The F-35 will represent a highly competitive aircraft even in 2040, whereas the so-called 4+ generation of fighters will have become obsolete by then. In addition, the F-35 is not just a fighter – it provides an aerial capability combining a fighter, air defense element, as well as cutting-edge surveillance and command, control and communication center while being part of a broad network of internet of things including unmanned aerial vehicles, and is able to perform missions that are completely outside the capabilities of the current aircraft,” Chief of General Staff Major General Karel Řehka commented.
The defense ministry also said that the rationale behind increasing the number of fighters is the fact that the present quantity of airframes no longer meets the current tasking. Given the worsening security situation, the defense ministry also expects the volume of performed missions to continue to grow.
Elaborating on the cancellation of the IFV tender, the Czech defense ministry said that the decision was made after two of the three bidders declined to accept new terms and conditions.
It is now proceeding with the purchase of the CV90, with the defense ministry describing the vehicle as “an established and combat proven platform.”
“They were also selected by the Slovak Republic, and we will coordinate our negotiations with Slovakia,” minister Černochová said and noted that cooperation with Slovakia would offer potential further savings for the Czech Republic.
The country is looking to buy 210 of the new vehicles to replace the Soviet era BVP IFV and complement the Austrian-built Pandur II vehicles currently in service. Up to $2.4 billion had been set aside for the purchase.