Prague – The Czech Republic cannot afford the purchase of American F-35 aircraft in the current economic situation, canceling the purchase and continuing to operate gripens would save up to 100 billion crowns. At the press conference of the Přísaha movement, its chairman Robert Šlachta said this today. The purchase of 24 aircraft with a total cost of 150 billion crowns was approved by the government at the end of September. However, according to Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS), the amount also includes all expenses for the preparation of operations in the Czech Republic. Schlachta also said today that he wants to file an official comment on the proposal of the Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) and raise questions about the increase in the regulated energy component.
According to the chairman of the movement, the Czech Republic cannot afford the purchase of F-35 aircraft in the current economic situation, moreover, according to him, they will be fully operational in 12 years and the current situation needs to be addressed. “We’re not saying F-35 never,” Schlachta said. According to him, it is a useless investment at this moment.
The process of purchasing the aircraft was initiated on the basis of a military recommendation. According to this, the requirements placed on the Czech Air Force after 2040 can only be met by fifth-generation machines, which will replace the currently used Swedish Gripens. The F-35 is currently the only representative of fifth-generation aircraft. According to Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), the purchase of these aircraft is an effective solution, because the benefit of the capabilities of this system during its lifetime is significantly higher compared to the money that the Czech Republic will pay than when purchasing another type of aircraft. Also, according to President Petr Pavel, the purchase of F-35 aircraft is a good choice if the Czech Republic wants to ensure high-quality defense for its citizens and allies, and something that is at the cutting edge of current technology for the military air force. The American combat aircraft will replace 14 leased JAS-39 Gripen fighters and, in the future, 24 L-159 aircraft.
The Ministry of Defense estimates the total cost of acquiring and operating F-35 fighter jets by the end of their service life in 2069 at 322 billion crowns. The first F-35 fighters are to be ready in 2029, all 24 machines will be in the Czech Republic by 2035. At the same time, the Czech Republic is negotiating with Sweden to extend the lease of 14 Gripens for a transitional period until 2035, their lease for 1.7 billion a year ends in 2027. However, according to former Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar (for ANO), the government should have negotiated with at least two possible suppliers for the planes. For example, according to him, Sweden should have been given the opportunity to submit a binding offer for the supply of machines, so that they would be comparable and no doubts would arise.
The nobles also want to file an official comment on the ERO’s proposal due to the increase in the regulated energy component. “We have decided that the Přísaha movement will participate in the public consultation process on this document and submit an official comment to the ERO on behalf of all citizens and companies that will be economically and existentially affected by this proposal,” said Šlachta. According to him, the proposal represents a fatal threat to the competitiveness of Czech industry, and it is also insufficiently justified.
ERO proposed a significant increase in the regulated component for next year. For households, it should increase by 71 percent year-on-year. It will rise even more significantly for large consumers, at the high voltage level by 113 percent year-on-year and at the very high voltage level by 206 percent. The ERO will present the definitive form of the regulated component of energy prices at the end of November. The opposition movement ANO wants to call an extraordinary meeting of the House of Representatives on energy prices for next year.
The political movement Přísaha was founded by the former head of the police unit for the detection of organized crime (ÚOOZ) Robert Šlachta in January 2021. In the parliamentary elections in October of the same year, the movement received 4.68 percent of the vote, and thus did not win any parliamentary mandate.
Czech Air Force oath