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Revolutionizing Defense: Czech Republic Eyes Potential F-35 Purchase

From April 3 to 6, 2023, guided by Blanka Cupáková, the chief director of the economic division of the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense, further discussions on the terms for the potential procurement of F-35 aircraft transpired in the United States. The talks encompassed all aspects of the possible acquisition and occurred both in Washington, where the relevant government agencies (including DSCA and JPO) are located, and at Lockheed Martin’s (LM) headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. In the initial phase of the work trip, delegates from the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Industry and Trade conferred with LM company representatives on proposals for industrial collaboration projects that the LM company presented to the Czech side after several months of intense negotiations.

LM values the caliber of the Czech industry and, in some instances, its exclusive production capabilities. The Czech negotiating team consistently highlights that high-quality industrial partnership projects aimed at safeguarding the nation’s crucial security interests can bolster the Czech Republic’s decision to acquire aircraft. Simultaneously, a gathering of Czech pilots led by Brigadier Jaroslav Mka took place in Fort Worth. During this event, the significance of the 5th generation aircraft system was deliberated, from the strategic mission of deterring adversaries to its operational application in multi-domain operations and the individual roles of the F-35 system in particular scenarios. Part of the agenda included an overview of F-35 production, training programs, and a hands-on demonstration of pilot equipment. In conclusion, the Czech pilots tested some of the discussed scenarios on the ground simulator.

“I am satisfied that negotiations with US government agencies are thorough and focused. We are succeeding in acquiring specific information that we require for a comprehensive understanding of the project and preparation of material for the government,” Senior Director Blanka Cupáková said of the talks, adding that the American side’s approach is constructive.

“I plan to submit to the Minister a proposal for a collection of high-quality and particular industrial collaboration projects between aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Czech companies. I realize that the extent and quality of the industrial cooperation offered to the Czech Republic will also be one of the criteria upon which the government will base its decision on the possible acquisition of 5th generation aircraft,” says Senior Director Blanka Cupáková.

In Washington, Senior Director Cupáková met with the head of the program office (Joint Program Office, JPO) for F-35 aircraft, General Michael J. Schmidt. The conversation’s theme was the aspects of preparing comprehensive information for the Czech Republic’s government. This was followed by a joint meeting of the Czech work team and American representatives from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and JPO. The meeting’s focus was an evaluation of the completion of individual tasks and the establishment of the next course of action. Besides a more detailed specification of the possible financing profile, the discussion centered on requirements for personnel training, essential infrastructure, the planned expert meeting on security issues, and the timeline. The government decided to commence negotiations with the USA on the potential acquisition of 5th generation aircraft in July of the previous year in response to the deteriorating security environment, particularly Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. By October 1, 2023, Defense Minister Jana Cernochová will inform the government about the results of these negotiations.

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