The Czech Air Force wants to infuse new weapons into its JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters to better serve the needs of NATO air defense.
“The Defense Ministry of the Czech Republic will hold a tender to beef up the Gripen jets’ onboard weapons so that they can effectively engage ground targets as well,” Ministry Spokesperson Petr Medek told reporters in Prague.
He said that additional arms, to be installed before 2018, would help the planes to coordinate better with NATO’s joint air defense.
Under a 10-year deal signed in 2004, the Czech Republic paid about 19.6 billion crowns (US $984 million) for the lease of 14 JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters.
In 2013, the Czech Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek announced plans to extend the country’s lease of the Gripens, which had replaced the Soviet-made MiG 21 jets.