A number of Eastern and Northern European countries, including Finland, which recently joined NATO, have sharply increased purchases of U.S. F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, September 27, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the decision to purchase 24 of these aircraft from the United States. It is planned to spend about 150 billion crowns ($6.5 billion) for this purpose. The first F-35s will be ready in 2029. At the same time Czech pilots will start training on them in the United States. The fighters will be delivered to the Czech Republic in batches, from 2031 to 2035.
Fiala specified that the purchase decision was made “based on the army’s recommendation”. “The government considers it one of its main obligations to ensure the security of our citizens and our country as a whole. And this is best done by modernizing our army and providing it with what it really needs”, the prime minister said.
On September 26, Romania announced its intention to buy 48 F-35 fighter jets from the United States. The republic’s Defense Ministry sent a request to parliament to approve the deal. The first batch – 32 combat aircraft – will cost the country’s budget 6.14 billion euros, 16 more will be purchased later. This is the largest arms purchase in Romania’s history. National Defense Minister Angel Tylvare specified that the F-35s will arrive in the country in 2032.
Earlier, Poland signed a contract with the United States for the delivery of 32 F-35 fighter jets for $4.6 billion. In April this year, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that the first planes will be ready in 2024. In addition, on September 25, the country signed an agreement with F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin to supply Apache helicopters. “Poland will soon have 96 Apache. It will be the largest fleet of these helicopters outside the United States”, Blaszczak said.
Finland has an agreement to buy 64 F-35 fighter jets in 2022. The total value of the contract is about 10 billion euros. The aircraft will start arriving in the country from 2026.
In addition, this summer Denmark announced its intention to replace its F-16s with F-35s earlier than originally planned. The country had previously ordered 27 fifth-generation fighters from the US. The first four F-35s arrived at Skridstrup airfield on September 14. The full delivery will be completed by 2027.
Norway has also replaced its F-16s with F-35s. The contract for the purchase of 52 fighter jets with a total value of $10 billion was awarded back in 2018. Under the contract, Norway was supposed to receive six new F-35s each year from the US. The main base for these fighter jets is at the Erlann airfield in Trøndelag. The F-35 fleet should reach full combat readiness in 2025.
All of the above countries are NATO members. Thus, in the future, 247 F-35 fighters will be deployed near Russia’s borders.