The Czechia needs new fighters and time is running out

The company’s management, which employs 6,500 mainly local people, believes that against the American competition, the F-35 fighter company Lockheed Martin, offers a fully modernized machine and a number of benefits that will ultimately convince the Czech government. The fact that the Czech Ministry of Defense does not have much time left also plays into Saab’s cards.

We offer a quick upgrade of Czech Gripen aircraft and an easy transition to a new generation of machines

Richard Smith, Gripen management

“Due to the conflict in Europe, the demand for fighter jets has increased throughout NATO,” Richard Smith, Deputy Commercial Director of Gripen, told Práva.

Fighter manufacturers around the world, including Saab, are therefore overwhelmed by orders for many years to come. And the Czech Ministry of Defense can thus run into time pressure, because it will have nothing to protect the Czech sky after 2027, when the lease of 14 Gripen aircraft ends, or in 2029.

The defense can still use the option for two years. The army has 12 single-seater type C and two double-seater type D. It pays 1.7 billion crowns a year for rent. Negro has already said that the number of new machines should increase to 24.

Better radar and missiles

According to Smith, Gripen offers a simple solution. “Within months to a year, it is possible to upgrade Czech C Gripen – using the MS 20 Block 2 upgrade package – and then plan for an easy transition to the next-generation E-type machine,” Smith said.

Even more overwhelmed by orders is the American manufacturer F-35, which should supply thousands of pieces, mainly to the US Air Force, Poland, Britain, Canada or Finland. According to aviation expert Tomáš Soušek, the queue for the new F-35 is so large that the chances of the Czech army acquiring aircraft from the USA before 2030 are minimal.

“It would only be possible if, after a political agreement, some of its machines were left to us by the United States,” he told Práva. He added that it would still be a gallows deadline, because the next year or two will be staff training. The USA allows pilots and technicians to be trained only on machines that have been manufactured for a specific customer.

The Slovaks, who ordered F-16s from Lockheed, have now been trapped, but due to a lack of chips, the supply of supersonics has been postponed for at least a year. The Slovak ministry must therefore negotiate with Poland and the Czech Republic for their fighters to guard Slovak airspace, as their MiG-29s will no longer be able to air into the air.

According to Smith, there are no similar risks with Gripen. “When switching to Gripen E, retraining pilots and staff will be very easy. It will not be necessary to rebuild the infrastructure or other facilities at the bases, or to change operational tactics. Nothing will change or break down, “he said.

The F-35 machine for the Polish army cost more than three billion crowns. The Brazilian Air Force gave 2.6 billion crowns for one new gripen. The price for two squadrons for the Czech army will be between 60 and 70 billion crowns.

Saab test pilot Jacob Högberg has been testing the new Type E aircraft for a year and is satisfied. According to him, the fighter has more sensors, better radar, new avionics and devices for electronic warfare and more powerful software. “Thanks to the new equipment, the pilot can adapt to the situation and space much faster, make decisions faster and thus have more time to solve tasks,” said Högberg.

He flew over three thousand hours on fighter jets, starting in the Swedish army on the predecessor of Gripen fighters on Viggen fighter jets. “I’ve been flying the Gripen for twenty years and it’s a great and reliable machine,” the pilot praised. Gripen E has a more powerful engine and can carry more weapons. “The payload has increased, which is a significant advantage for combat operations,” he said.