Czech government signs Gripen lease extension

London
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The governments of the Czech Republic and Sweden have signed a new agreement to extend the NATO nation’s lease deal for 14 Gripen C/Ds by a further 12 years.

Prague signed an originally 10-year deal to operate 12 single-seat Gripen Cs and two D-model trainers in 2004, with the aircraft having entered use from the following year. The Czech government in mid-March approved a proposal to extend the bilateral arrangement.

Finalised at Caslav air base on 16 May, “The contract means that the Czech Republic will continue to lease 14 Gripen aircraft until at least 2027,” says the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency. “Training and upgrading of the aircraft are also included, as is all the necessary logistical and operational support needed to deploy the aircraft,” it adds.

“With this agreement, the Czech Republic is taking a long-term strategic decision to continue operating Gripen and ensuring the continued development of its national capability,” says Lennart Sindahl, head of Saab's Aeronautics business area.

Two of the Czech air force’s Gripens are due to appear at the ILA Berlin air show from 20-25 May, with one of these to participate in the flying display.

Saab also supports the use of 14 Gripens by the Hungarian air force, which will fly the type until at least 2026 under a separate lease agreement.