Czech Army should buy new tanks, not upgrade the T-72 – former Chief of General Staff says

Czech Army should buy new tanks, not upgrade the T-72 – former Chief of General Staff says
12 / 03 / 2020, 10:00

Former Chief of General Staff General Jiří Šedivý in a recent interview for Echo24 server, said that while many acquisition programs are currently being developed, on the other hand only a few have been completed so far. Šedivý also expressed doubts about the planned modernization of old Soviet T-72M4 CZ tanks; according to him, the army should focus on the purchase of new MBT’s.

Several topics were opened. First, it is the fact that the military is currently working on a large number of programs, but only a small part of them is successfully completed. In this respect, Šedivý named, for example, the unfinished development project of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade. According to the General, the forces are being devided, follow different individual programs and there is little drive and no tangible result.

See also: Current Structure of the Czech Army – Combat Forces – the 4th RDB (2019)

The other important issue linked tightly to the acquisitions was mentions as well: 2% of GDP spending on defence. This is to be achieved by the Czech Republic in 2024, but a month ago, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček made it clear that he did not count on it in for that year. Due to the commitment made by the Czech Republic in 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Babiš Government got into an open conflict with Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar over the issue.

In the interview, Šedivý said that this is a huge problem, as it is precisely 2% of defense GDP that is being questioned in the current debates. If a NATO member state has a problem with this commitment, it is to say it clearly and loudly, and we should not promise to fulfill this commitment in the future.

See also: By 2030 Czech Army should have 40 thousand soldiers backed with modern weapon systems and good budget, new concept says

Problems that the Ministry of Defence encounters during large as well as smaller tenders were mentioned too. One of the examples is the purchase of Bell multipurpose helicopters (Venoms and Vipers), which was only confirmed after several delays in December last year. In addition, Leonardo, producer of the AW139M helicopter, filed a complaint with the Office for the Protection of Competition. Another big problem concerns the acquisition of two VERA-NG deployable passive ESM trackers (DPET). This contract was clearly overpriced. According to Šedivý, there are political problems and instability that make acquisition processes more difficult for tenders.

See also: Leonardo turned to the Office for the Protection of Competition regarding the multi-purpose helicopters acquisition

Šedivý also commented on the currently hot topic, which is the planned modernization of 33 T-72M4 CZ Main Battle Tanks. According to the former chief of the General Staff, the Czech Republic should consider buying new tanks in this case and re-consider the upcoming modernization process of old Soviet vehicles. In his view the problem of the modernizatition of the T-72 concerns the schedule: it is to take place between 2020-2023 while the development concept of the Army counts on the fact that in 2026 new tanks should be introduced.

See also: Further modernization the ex-Soviet Czech T-72M4 CZ makes little sense

Before becoming Chief of General Staff (1998-2002), Jiří Ševidý commanded a tank battalion of the 18th Tank Regiment, from 1985 he served as commander of the 17th Tank Regiment. In 1990's he commanded the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade.

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