From April 3 to 6, 2023, under the leadership of Blanka Cupáková, the senior director of the economic section of the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic, further negotiations on the conditions for the possible acquisition of F-35 aircraft took place in the United State. The negotiations covered all aspects of the potential acquisition and took place both in Washington, where the interested government agencies (including DSCA and JPO) are based, and at Lockheed Martin’s (LM) headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. In the first part of the working trip, representatives of the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic discussed with representatives of the LM company proposals for industrial cooperation projects that the LM company presented to the Czech side based on several months of intensive negotiations.
LM appreciates the quality of the Czech industry and, in some cases, its unique production capabilities. The Czech negotiating team repeatedly emphasizes that high-quality industrial cooperation projects aimed at ensuring the essential security interests of the state can support the Czech Republic’s decision to purchase aircraft. At the same time, a meeting of a group of Czech pilots led by Brigadier Jaroslav Mka took place in Fort Worth. In the course of it, the importance of the 5th generation aircraft system was discussed, from the strategic task of deterring the adversary to its operational use in multi-domain operations to the individual roles of the F-35 system in specific scenarios. Part of the program was an introduction to the production of the F-35, training programs, and a practical demonstration of the pilot’s equipment. At the end, the Czech pilots tried out some of the discussed scenarios on the ground demonstrator.
“I am pleased that negotiations with US government agencies are detailed and targeted. We are managing to obtain specific information that we need for a comprehensive perception of the project and processing of material for the government,” Senior Director Blanka Cupáková said of the negotiations, adding that the American side’s approach is constructive.
“I intend to submit to the Minister a proposal for a set of high-quality and specific industrial cooperation projects between the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Czech companies. I am aware that the scope and quality of the industrial cooperation offered to the Czech Republic will also be one of the criteria on the basis of which the government will decide on the possible acquisition of 5th generation aircraft,” says senior director Blanka Cupáková.
In Washington, Senior Director Cupáková met with the head of the program office (Joint Program Office, JPO) for F-35 aircraft, General Michael J. Schmidt. The topic of the interview was the aspects of preparing comprehensive information for the government of the Czech Republic. This was followed by a joint meeting of the Czech work team and American representatives of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and JPO. Its content was an assessment of the fulfillment of partial tasks and the setting of the next procedure. In addition to a more detailed specification of the possible financing profile, the discussion focused, for example, on the requirements for personnel training, the necessary infrastructure, the planned expert meeting on security issues, or the time schedule. The government decided to start negotiations with the USA on the possible acquisition of 5th generation aircraft in July of last year in response to the worsening security environment, especially Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. By October 1, 2023, Defense Minister Jana ernochová will inform the government about the results of these negotiations.