Czech Republic Set to Become Central Europe’s F-35 Training Hub

Lockheed Martin is considering establishing a training center for F-35 pilots in Pardubice, Czech Republic, a move that could transform the country into a Central European hub for advanced fighter jet training. The Czech media outlet E15 reported this development, noting the widespread adoption of the F-35 across Europe. The Lightning II, poised to become the most widely deployed fifth-generation fighter globally, follows the legacy of the F-16, the NATO standard for fourth-generation fighters. Over 4,700 F-16s have been built, with production continuing.

F-35 Lightning II. US Air Force photo

The Czech Republic has committed to purchasing 24 F-35s, while neighboring Poland plans to operate 32, and Germany 35, forming a robust regional user group. In partnership with Czech company LOM Praha, Lockheed Martin aims to establish a training center in Pardubice. A cooperation agreement was signed in late May to modernize the aviation training center there.

Initial training will start with “Zlín” Z-142 piston trainers for students aged 20 and older, progressing to the Aero L-39NG, approved by Lockheed Martin for F-35 training. The training program will last approximately 18 months, after which pilots will train on Czech F-35s and simulators at the 21st Tactical Aviation Airbase in ?áslav.