Czech Army acquisitions – the Army says it has no budget for modern MBTs

Czech Army acquisitions – the Army says it has no budget for modern MBTs
Author: Joker Island|Caption: T-72M4 CZ
15 / 06 / 2020, 10:00

Last Wednesday, the Defense Committee of the Chamber of Daputies discussed the conclusions of the Supreme Audit Office and the issue of modernization of T-72 tanks has been also widely mentioned. According to the Chief of General Staff Aleš Opata, it is not a modernization, but a so-called technical improvement of the old tanks. According to him, there are no funds to purchase modern Main Battle Tanks now.

The topic of modernization of T-72 tanks was raised at the meeting of the Committee by its chairwoman, Jana Černochová. She wondered how it would be with the planned modernization of 33 T-72M4 CZ tanks. She also asked what the final cost of the tank modernization would be and what companies would be involved in this process. She did not receive concrete answers but the director of armaments and acquisitions of the Ministry of Defense, Lubor Koudelka, promised to answer Černochová in writing.

See also: The state spends billions on purchase and service of armored vehicles. Nevertheless, a large part is not operational

Chief of General Staff Aleš Opata then replied to the chairwoman of the Defense Committee that it was not a modernization, but a technical improvement, when certain old pieces of equipment are replaced, such as thermal imaging camera, etc. This is because there are, at present, no funds for new tanks. He also said he would very much like to purchase new vehicles, if only the necessary funds (the General mentioned 22 billion crowns or approx. USD 1 billion) were found, as this acquisition plan is given by our NATO commitment. According to him, the technical evaluation of the T-72 tanks is only a temporary solution, but it does not solve the situation.

The main problem of the whole debate seems to be that the rearmament of the 7th Mechanized Brigade is to include both the new tracked IFVs and also new tanks. MP Pavel Růžička asked whether in this context it would not be worth buying new tanks straight away, because the modernization, or technical evaluation, of the T-72 tanks does not actually solve the situation. "It might be worth considering the option to forget about the modernization of the T-72, wait for a favorable financial situation and buy new tanks," Růžička said.

See also: President of the DSIA (AOBP): if the state wants help from domestic industry in times of crisis, it must maintain its production capacity even in times of non-crisis

In other words, the debate, which will certainly continue, shows that in order for the Czech Republic to have a combat-capable heavy brigade by 2026 and at the same time fulfill its commitment to NATO, it must have both new IFVs and modern Main Battle Tanks. It is therefore necessary to consider this issue in the context of our NATO's commitments, as well as the modernization of the old tanks that the Ministry of Defense talks about so often.

In public space, experts are currently discussing the possibility that the Czech Republic would not insist on acquiring all 210 IFVs, but a lower number, and the money saved was invested in new tanks that would be assigned to the heavy brigade. Maybe it's because we choose between having either new 210 IFVs  together with old tanks, which means, on the other hand, not having a modern and combat ready heavy brigade (because it must have a complex composition of modern armaments across all branches), or a variant to have a smaller number of new IFVs and purchase new tanks, and thus equip the heavy brigade with all necessary armament, albeit in smaller numbers (and strenghten it later with created technical background and experience).

See also: Modernization of the T-72M4 CZ tanks in the light of the findings of the Supreme Audit Office

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