Czech Gripens possibly stay until 2035
Since July 2022, the Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) is negotiating with the US government for the purchase of 24 F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft for the Vzdušné síly armády České republiky (CzAF, Czech Air Force).
However, the Czech MoD fears that Lockheed Martin will not be able to deliver the fighters before 2029 when the current lease of the JAS39 Gripens will end. Lockheed Martin has a large order backlog for the F-35 Lightning II. Customer wishes to deliver the fighter earlier can certainly not be met in all cases.
Therefore, negotiations have started with SAAB Aerospace to extend Gripen's lease until 2035. The CzAF leases fourteen Saab 39 Gripens from SAAB Aerospace, twelve JAS39C single-seat fighters and two JAS39D two-seat fighters.
On 30 June 2022, the Swedish ambassador to Czechia, Frederik Jörgensen, said that the CzAF can keep the leased Gripens for free after the current lease period, which ends in 2029, is over. According to the Czech MoD, this deal was only made in the media. They also said that Sweden would make such an offer under the condition that Czechia would buy the JAS39E Gripen NG.
Currently the Czech MoD pays € 71,6 million annually for the rental of the fourteen Gripens.
Photo by Mike Schoenmaker (Scramble Archive)