Another delay of the Czech IFV tender. Now COVID is the reason

Another delay of the Czech IFV tender. Now COVID is the reason
Caption: The Army will be using BMP-2's a bit longer
05 / 11 / 2020, 10:00

In mid-October, measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic affected, among other things, the largest defense tender in the history of the independent Czech Republic. The Ministry of Defense was forced to postpone the planned tests of tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles, which were to take place from the end of October to the beginning of December. The Ministry of Defense has now prepared an information leaflet for members of the House Defense Committee, in which it explains the situation and outlines the further development of the tender. The order for 53 billion crowns has been postponed many times in the past already. Despite further delays, the Ministry of Defense continues to count on the acquisition of 210 vehicles and has not developed any alternative scenarios for the process.

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Defense to the members of the Defense Committee, the last negotiations with bidders for the supply of tracked IFVs to the Army of the Czech Republic (ie BAE Systems with CV90, Rheinmetall with LYNX and GDELS with ASCOD 42) took place in September 2020, and licensing issues were discussed. The next step is to send the Contracting Authority's Invitation to submit final tenders, and the Ministry of Defense wants to make this step before the end of this year. This is a definitive postponement of the final result to 2021.

See also: The Ministry of Defense is changing the parameters for the new IFV again - will the army have to accept a Cold War technology?

In the material, the Ministry of Defense identifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reasons for the delay in the acquisition. The consequence is to be an extension of the supply schedule until 2027, and a related extension of contract financing until 2028. "These steps were taken to reduce the financial demands of this project on the budget of the Ministry of Defense in 2024-2026," MO said in the document. It also refers to the need to amend the Strategic Program of the Czech Ground Forces until 2029. It was originally approved in 2017 for the period 2017-2026. Intra-departmental and inter-ministerial comment proceedings led to a time delay. According to the MoD, the pandemic also affected the possibility of negotiating preliminary offers with suppliers, including the impact of the disease on the project team.

Despite the delays, the MoD, according to its statement, does not envisage a variant that the project, which it identifies as a clear priority, would not be completed and the contract would not be signed. MoD informs members of the Committe that there is no alternative scenario.

This is another in a series of postponements of the decision, and thus the start of supplies of vehicles for the battalions of mechanized infantry of the 7th Brigade. According to the original plan, the winner of the competition was to be selected in 2018, the contract was to be signed in 2019, and deliveries were to take place this year. Due to problems with, among other things, the selection of a law firm (tender canceled in August 2018 and March 2019), change in requirements (de facto exclusion of the PUMA IFV due to its unmanned turret), the planned date for signing the contract was postponed from August and September 2019 to the end of 2020, and now for 2021.

See also: Czech IFV tender – requirements might change shortly before the final phase

In the next part of the information leaflet, the Ministry of Defense comments on the issue of the 2% share of defense expenditures in relation to GDP, which the Czech Republic should achieve by 2024. Current Czech Armed Forces Development Concept 2030 (approved by the government in October 2019) counts on this schedule. The draft state budget for 2021 holds the originally set amount of defense spending at 1.46% (although predictions of GDP development are very uncertain in the given situation, as well as state budget revenues), and in absolute terms with an increase of CZK 13 billion compared to 2020. If the financial framework were to be reduced, there would be a risk of non-fulfillment of most of the Czech Republic's main commitments to NATO, and the postponement of modernization projects for 2027, according to the Ministry of Defense.

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