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The Road Ahead for the F-35 in Europe – Defense & Security Monitor

Summary

More Nations Showing Interest in Lockheed’s Fifth-Generation Fighter as Headwinds Emerge in Switzerland and the United Kingdom

by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.

On December 10, the Finnish Ministry of Defense officially announced its decision to purchase 64 F-35As to replace the country’s F/A-18 Hornet fleet. Photo Source: Ilmavoimat – Finnish Air Force.

Recently, the Finnish Ministry of Defense ann…….

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More Nations Showing Interest in Lockheed’s Fifth-Generation Fighter as Headwinds Emerge in Switzerland and the United Kingdom

by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.

On December 10, the Finnish Ministry of Defense officially announced its decision to purchase 64 F-35As to replace the country’s F/A-18 Hornet fleet. Photo Source: Ilmavoimat – Finnish Air Force.

Recently, the Finnish Ministry of Defense announced its selection of the Lockheed Martin F-35 as a replacement platform for the Finnish Air Force fleet of 62 F/A-18C/D Hornets. The Finns will procure 64 F-35A Block 4 aircraft, with deliveries commencing in 2026. Despite concerns about sustainment costs, a topic that has been heavily debated in the U.S., Lockheed Martin’s business development team has been successful in winning nearly every fighter competition where the F-35 has been a contender. The only upset was in early 2019, when Germany rejected the F-35 and decided to proceed with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet as replacement platforms for its Tornado fleet. With the HX fighter competition in Finland now in the rear-view mirror, it is reasonable to ask: What is next for the F-35 in Europe? And what nations are next in line to acquire the fifth-generation fighter?

A number of European countries have expressed significant interest in acquiring the F-35, including the Czech Republic, Greece and Spain, and sales campaigns in these nations are ongoing.

The Czech Republic is looking to acquire new fighters, and some speculate that Prague may view the F-35 as simply too expensive given the nation’s relatively limited budgets. Some sources mention a requirement for as many as 40 aircraft, which seems a bit high for a nation currently operating a much smaller fleet. The Czechs currently have 12 JAS 39C and two JAS 39D Gripens on leases that expire in 2027 but include two-year extension options. The two main bidders for new Czech fighters are Saab, which is offering 24 of either its JAS 39C/D or  newest JAS 39E/F models, and Lockheed Martin, which is offering 18 F-16V Block 70/72s or F-35As. In 2018, neighboring Slovakia opted to buy 14 F-16V Block 70 jets, with delivery scheduled for the mid-2020s. A Czech decision on new fighters is expected to be several years away.

At the beginning of 2021, Greece was operating a fleet of 33 F-4s, 153 F-16s, and 40 Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets. Athens is currently considering the possibility of acquiring a number of F-35s to replace its oldest F-16s. Quantities of up to 40 aircraft have been mentioned by different sources. Greece has also indicated an interest in taking delivery of secondhand F-35As, but the U.S. has pushed back on that. The U.S. ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, has stated that F-35s cannot be delivered to Greece before an appropriate infrastructure has been established to store and maintain the fighter jets in-country. It is believed it will take at …….

Source: https://dsm.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/2021/12/14/the-road-ahead-for-the-f-35-in-europe/