The government decided on the purchase of F-35 fighters for the Czech army. Do you think this is the right decision?
Whether it was the right decision will be revealed only in the future. We live in a time when security threats are changing very quickly, to which we must respond by providing the necessary military capabilities. From the point of view of the current situation, this purchase seems reasonable. But armed conflicts always bring rapid development in the field of new military technologies, so in a horizon of less than twenty years this type of aircraft may be replaced by an unmanned vehicle. And since there will be more military conflicts and wars in the world, the development of new weapons will accelerate, and this time may be even shorter. I have not noticed any extensive societal discussion about this most expensive purchase in history. And so we have no choice but to believe that the command of the army and the Ministry of Defense know what they are doing.
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It is said that the F-35 fighter jets will cost up to 400 billion CZK, including their operation. Can we afford such a high investment as a small country in the middle of Europe?
The government is responsible for the economic situation in our country, but also for the ability to defend it and ensure safety for its inhabitants. Personally, I consider defense and security to be the most important thing for a state to care about. The basis of the defense resilience of any country is its prosperity and the willingness of its inhabitants to participate in defense. It is true that a society is only as rich as its citizens. But our economy is not in good shape and people are getting poorer rather than richer due to high inflation, devaluation of savings and rising prices of energy and consumer goods. I would like to quote from the speech of the Minister of National Defense František Machník from 1934: “However, the army alone is absolutely not enough to defend the state. Today, entire nations and states, all their inhabitants and all their resources are at war. The army is rather just the organizer of all these components and the first patrol or vanguard for the first impact, for the first attack of the enemy. This attack, the glorious House, will be withstood and repulsed by the army all the more safely, the more in solidarity the whole nation and state, all its population, will fight by its side.” willing to sacrifice themselves for the defense of their country. If this is the case with us, let the readers answer that for themselves.
If the Czech Republic invests such a large amount of money only in the modernization of the air force, will there be – in layman’s terms – money left for the further necessary modernization of the Czech army?
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This is a concern that is regularly echoed at informal meetings within the professional security community. If the capability of other branches of the military is not significantly increased, then buying the F-35 will be a waste of money. I dare to compare it to buying a high-end smartphone, with which you can buy a lot of useful applications. If I am not willing to pay for these applications and only want to make calls and send SMS messages, then it is pointless for me to buy an expensive phone. It is necessary for all branches of the armed forces to bring their equipment and capabilities to such a level that the capabilities of the F-35 can be fully utilized. Only then does this purchase make sense.
Will Czech companies somehow participate in the purchase of F-35 fighters? Or is it a contract that the US won’t let anyone enter?
The F-35 aircraft contain a number of technologies that are subject to the highest level of secrecy in the US. The planes are already being manufactured and the supply chains have been set up. It is always easier to involve the domestic industry for products where you can participate in the development, and thus also in the subsequent production. In this sense, there are high expectations for cooperation within the European Defense Fund. But of course that is not the case with the F-35. It cannot be expected that there would be a chance to meaningfully participate directly in the production of these aircraft. I emphasize the word meaningful, because it often happens to us that, as part of industrial cooperation, foreign partners offer us work from the untrained category, we will learn it. Here it is necessary to tell them that we are not interested in such work. We require work with high added value including participation in development. We have smart and highly qualified employees, and they have to participate in the orders. Although the hope of getting involved in the F-35 is minimal, their manufacturer Lockheed Martin has a number of other projects suitable for the involvement of Czech industry. If this happens in sufficient quantity, then at least some of the money from the state budget, which is sent abroad for airplanes, will return to the state.
Regarding the training of army pilots for the F-35, there is a lot of talk about the fact that Czech-made L-39 aircraft should be used for this purpose. Do you see this as a real possibility?
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I am convinced that the L-39NG aircraft is an ideal machine for training future fighters. They acquire the necessary habits on it, and the flight hours are significantly lower, which reduces the cost of pilot training. From this point of view, the use of the L-39NG makes sense.
In addition to the ongoing war in Ukraine, another war conflict has flared up in the Middle East. To what extent do you think there is a danger that the fight against terrorists in Gaza will escalate into a bigger and therefore more dangerous war for the whole world?
Expert circles have been talking about the danger of new armed conflicts that could turn into a global war for a very long time. The efforts of some great powers to redraw the map of the world, the increase in the number of inhabitants on the earth together with the lack of resources, the increase of intolerance, all this is an ideal background for the deterioration of the security situation. The West also added to it. Just think of the occupation of Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution, or the Arab Spring followed by an influx of migrants to Europe. I recently recorded an interview with former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who compared the current security situation in the world to the years before 1914 and warned of a new world war. There are really more foci of possible conflict than is healthy. It is enough to recall the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, the Caucasus, the South China Sea or the threat of civil wars in European countries. When people ask me what to do and how to behave, I answer: “Enjoy life joyfully, there is nothing else you can do anyway”. And with great exaggeration I add: “But it’s good to buy extra cartridges”.
The Israeli army and its intelligence services have always had great prestige. Did they lose her because of the events of the last few weeks?
I don’t want to make excuses for Israeli intelligence in any way, but this kind of thing can happen. The key is to learn so that something similar doesn’t happen in the future. And above all, for the next time, don’t be lulled by the apparent calm.
Israel is also a major player in the defense industry. Will the outbreak of war have any repercussions in this area as well?
In the short term, probably yes, but in the long term, no. On the contrary, I believe that both in Israel and in other technically advanced countries, there will be an accelerated development of new technologies not only in the field of defense, but also security and intelligence needs.
In connection with the events in Israel, you stated that we should respect our gun legislation and not let it be destroyed by people who will not even go shopping without armed security. What were you referring to?
I was alluding to those who preach water and drink wine. On the constant efforts of Brussels officials or ruling elites in some Western European countries to interfere with national gun laws. Under various guises of the nature protection type, by completely banning lead or abusing terrorist incidents, they restrict the rights of citizens to keep weapons. If Western politicians weren’t hypocrites, they would say bluntly: “People have immigrated to our countries who we can’t allow to have guns, because God knows what would happen then”. Instead, they are trying to so-called harmonize gun rules even in countries that are not affected by this problem. They have themselves to blame for their situation with a faulty migration policy, and I don’t know why we should pay for it. Unfortunately, most of our citizens perceive their participation in the European Parliament elections as a waste of time. But we must have quality people there who will be willing and able to defend our national interests. To the comrades from Brussels, when they again come up with some trick to take away our ability to defend ourselves, I would like to say “Molón labe!”
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author: Karel Excellent