• Article
  • 02 Apr 2024
Pete BurdenPhoto
Pete Burden

What Czech Republic Membership Means for the F-35 Programme

F 35 Programme + Listing Image

At the end of January, Lockheed Martin announced that the Czech Republic was the latest nation to join its F-35 programme. This makes it the 18th nation to join the group, further cementing the aircraft’s position in the future of defence aerospace.


The Czech Republic’s Letter of Offer and Acceptance is important for the country and for the aerospace industry. Let’s examine why.

What the Deal Involves

The Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) was signed between the Czech Republic and US governments for the $6.6 billion deal. It includes 24 F-35 aircraft in their Block 4 configuration (due in 2029) as well as logistical support and training for local personnel.

The delivery process is due to begin in 2031, giving the US military plenty of time to train Czech pilots. It’ll be a necessary upgrade for the Czech military, which currently operates a fleet of leased J-39 Gripen aircraft. Considering this entered service in 1996, it should make a noticeable difference to the strength of the Czech Republic’s air force.

What Does this Mean for the Industry?

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the Czech Republic receiving a delivery of F-35s is the improvement of the NATO deterrent. Aside from the additional firepower, updating its air force has an important advantage: interoperability. Unsurprisingly, operating the same aircraft as its NATO allies will vastly improve the Czech Republic’s ability to offer its services in joint missions.

But from a more domestic perspective, the programme will have an impact on the country’s national spending. A 2023 Global Data survey states that the most attractive sector in the nation’s military defence spending is fixed-wing aircraft, specifically because of the changeover to F-35 aircraft.

Membership in the programme will require training for pilots, mechanics, and engineers, as well as updated infrastructure and logistical support. In turn, this could have a major economic advantage because of the number of jobs the programme will generate through supplementary roles. While the aircraft will be built in the US, they’ll need to be maintained and upgraded in the Czech Republic.

Considering the lifespan of the F-35 is currently believed to be around 50 years, this is quite a significant addition to the economy. Due to its potential longevity and upgradability, we may see further economic partnerships between member states in the coming years. As an example, the UK’s involvement in the programme is estimated to contribute £40 billion to the national economy – a figure we may see echoed in other member states.

Final Thoughts

The F-35 programme promises to be a game changer in the future of global aerospace. Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 990 F-35s to date, and this number is only set to grow over the coming decade. The company estimates that by the mid-2030s, there will be more than 600 operating in Europe alone.

So, the Czech Republic’s membership in the F-35 programme is a necessary step towards this goal. Among the many benefits, perhaps the most important is greater coherence among NATO resources. The next 10 years or so promise to be big for the F-35, and this deal is a step on that journey.