The Czech army launched its new 533 Unmanned Systems Battalion on Thursday. Currently the country’s armed forces operate a number of small drones, but according to Chief of the General Staff Aleš Opata, the army will soon buy at least one larger, heavier unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), capable of both reconnaissance and combat.
The Czech Army is likely to spend more on military technology purchases
this year than at any time in its history. Some CZK 73 billion, double the
money spent last year, is set to be spent on modern armaments and
equipment, Czech Television reports. By far the largest of the strategic
contracts, worth CZK 50 billion, concerns the purchase of new armoured
Currently the Ministry of Defence is considering three options when it comes to the new armoured vehicles: Swedish made VC-90, the Austro-Spanish ASCOD tracked vehicle and the Lynx manufactured by Germany’s Rheinmetall. The Ministry of Defence will call for final offers in its tender in February.
With the arrival of the New Year, the Czech Army has deployed 1,000
soldiers to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, the army said in
a statement on Thursday. The Czech soldiers will be on alert for the
entirety of 2020 and must be able to take action in a crisis situation
within five days.
Commander Petr Blecha said the Czechs had been preparing intensively to play a role in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force since 2018. The task force was created following the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar (for ANO) is due to finalise the Czech
Army purchase of twelve US helicopters on Thursday following talks with his
American counterpart, Mark Esper.
The ministry has agreed to buy eight utility UH-1Y Venom helicopters and four AH-1Z attack Viper helicopters from Bell for 14.6 billion crowns. They are due for delivery in 2023.
Bell was chosen over a cheaper option due to its offer of greater cooperation with Czech firms, especially state-owned LOM Praha, which maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters.
Metnar said last month the contract includes equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training of the personnel and best meets Czech needs.
The Czech Army chose to buy 12 military helicopters from US maker Bell
rather than a cheaper option from its rival Sikorsky mainly because Bell
offered greater cooperation with Czech firms, the daily Právo reports.
The deal priced at 14.5 billion crowns included 8 utility Venom helicopters and 4 attack Viper helicopters, which share most of their parts. Sikorsky had offered 12 Black Hawks for 1 billion crows less and included weaponry and ammunition shipments.
But military officials told Právo that Bell offered far more work for Czech companies, in particular the state-owned enterprise LOM Praha, which fixes and maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters, and the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ).
Bell’s deal also allowed for preserving combat capabilities when the Mi-24s are removed from service, around 2025, the sources said.
The Czech Army will acquire US combat and multipurpose helicopters Viper
and Venom. According to Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar, a combination of
two machines is more appropriate than the purchase of only multi-purpose
Black Hawk helicopters. The helicopters should be available in 2023.
The ministry received two offers for the purchase of helicopters from the US government in late June. The US administration offered either 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for 13.2 billion crowns or eight UH-1Y Venom helicopters along with four AH-1Z Viper helicopters worth 14.5 billion crowns. The price includes maintenance and training of personnel.
The bids were assessed by a committee made up of ministry and army representatives. The contract should be signed by the end of the year.
The Czech Ministry of Defence will receive an extra 1.2 billion in
government funding next year, bringing its 2020 budget to CZK 75.5 billion.
The further budget increase, was announced at a press conference by Defence
Minister Lubomír Metnar after he met with Finance Minister Alena
Schillerová on Wednesday morning. Mr. Metnar says the money will be spent
With this extra boost, the ministry, which is currently running a modernisation programme within the Czech armed forces, will receive CZK 8.8 billion more in funding next year compared to its current budget.
The country has previously pledged to reach the NATO member states defence spending target of 2 percent by 2024. Currently, military spending amounts to just 1.2 percent of GDP.