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Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defence in Talks for Game-Changing F-35 Deal

From April 3rd through 6th, 2023, under the guidance of Blanka Cupáková, the principal director of the economic division of the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense, extended talks concerning the potential procurement of F-35 aircraft were held in the United States. These discussions encompassed every facet of the potential deal and were conducted both in Washington, home to the relevant government bodies (including DSCA and JPO), and at Lockheed Martin’s (LM) main office in Fort Worth, Texas. In the initial phase of the business trip, delegates from the Czech Republic’s Ministries of Defense and Industry and Trade exchanged views with LM representatives on proposed industrial cooperation projects that LM presented to the Czech delegation, stemming from several months of intense dialogue.

Lockheed Martin values the excellence of Czech industry, and in certain instances, its unique manufacturing capabilities. The Czech negotiation team consistently underscores that high-caliber industrial cooperation projects aimed at safeguarding the nation’s fundamental security interests can bolster the Czech Republic’s decision to purchase aircraft. Concurrently, a team of Czech pilots led by Brigadier Jaroslav Mka convened in Fort Worth. During their meeting, they deliberated on the significance of the 5th generation aircraft system, ranging from the strategic task of deterring opponents, to its operational use in multi-domain operations, to the specific roles of the F-35 system in particular scenarios. A tour of the F-35 production facility, training programs, and a hands-on demonstration of the pilot’s gear were part of the agenda. Eventually, the Czech pilots tested some of the discussed scenarios on the ground simulator.

“I am satisfied that our dialogue with US government bodies is thorough and goal-oriented. We are succeeding in gathering specific data that we require for a complete understanding of the project and for preparing the necessary documentation for our government,” commented Senior Director Blanka Cupáková on the talks, noting the cooperative approach of the American side.

“My plan is to present to the Minister a proposal for a selection of high-quality and specific industrial cooperation projects between aircraft producer Lockheed Martin and Czech firms. I understand that the extent and quality of the industrial collaboration offered to the Czech Republic will also be one of the deciding factors for our government when considering the possible acquisition of 5th generation aircraft,” stated senior director Blanka Cupáková.

In Washington, Senior Director Cupáková had a meeting with the program director (Joint Program Office, JPO) for the F-35 aircraft, General Michael J. Schmidt. The conversation centered around preparing comprehensive information for the Czech government. This was followed by a joint assembly of the Czech task force and American representatives from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and JPO. The meeting’s focus was a review of the progress made on individual tasks and establishing the next steps. Along with a more specific outline of possible financing options, the conversation also touched on personnel training requirements, necessary infrastructure, a planned expert meeting on security issues, and scheduling. In response to the deteriorating security environment, particularly Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the government decided in July of last year to begin negotiations with the USA on the potential acquisition of 5th generation aircraft. By October 1, 2023, Defense Minister Jana Černochová will inform the government of the outcome of these discussions.

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