Czech Republic to buy 24 US fighter jets
Prague, Sep 28 (IANS) The Czech government has approved a plan to purchase 24 US F-35 fighter jets, it was announced.
The country’s Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday that the state will pay a total of 150 billion Czech crowns ($6.48 billion) for the jets. This makes it one of the most expensive purchases in the history of the Czech Republic.
At present, the country is renting 14 Gripen jets from Sweden, but this lease should expire by 2027, according to local media.
The first F-35 aircraft from the new order should be available to the Czech Republic in 2029, and the last in 2035, Xinhua news agency reported.
While some opposition political parties view this purchase as an excessive expenditure at a time when the state budget needs stabilising, army representatives say it is necessary.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Jana Cernochova said, “I can guarantee that other modernisation projects of the Army of the Czech Republic are not threatened by this project, on the contrary, they complement each other with regard to the capabilities being built.”
The move will have positive effects on domestic industry, the Minister added.
Up to 14 projects related to the purchase are planned, and these should involve Czech companies.
On Wednesday, the Czech government approved a draft state budget for next year, with a deficit of 252 billion Czech crowns.
The country’s defence spending, totaling nearly 160 billion Czech crowns, will exceed 2 per cent of GDP for the first time in 2024, according to the Ministry. (1 US dollar = 23.16 Czech crowns)