Czech IFV tender - opposition against manned turrets requirement

Czech IFV tender - opposition against manned turrets requirement
06 / 05 / 2019, 09:30

By the end of March the Ministry of Defence revealed its new requirements concerning the biggest ever defence acquisition project in history of the Czech Republic, the purchase of 210 tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Since more than a month numerous experts have expressed their surprise and critics over the latest demand: the vehicles are to be fitted with manned turrets. Most of the critics mention certain antagonism between the claim of providing the best protection for the crew and the troops, and this last decision. The controversies concern especially the PUMA IFV by PSM which is the only of the four considered vehicles (CV90, ASCOD 2, LYNX and PUMA) to come with an unmanned turret. PSM will oppose to this particular specification at court.

Deputy Pavel Růžička (ANO, same political party at the Minister of Defence) was among the first critics of the new condition. Within a few hours after the new requirement was announced he tweeted: "So for a year the Czech Army was sure about its new IFV, and adressed 2 of 4 producers who could not comply with this requirement. It is like to ask the producer of Skoda to deliver a camion." The other requirement hardly attainable for two of the producers is the number of transported soldiers. The army requires 3 cewmen, 6 troopers and 2 specialists, for the total of 11. Only the CV90 by BAE systems and the LYNX by Rheinmetall can transport 11 soldiers. ASCOD 2 can carry 8 troopers in its APC variant, while PUMA only carries 6 troopers. This requirement was known since June 2018 though.

See also: Czech IFV tender - new requirements and controversies

Deputy Růžička was later joined by member of the Defence Committee Karel Krejza (ODS, the strongest opposition party). In an interview for the Security Magazín he said: "The acquisitions are correct, the Army needs to pruchase, to invest. But this (the manned turret) is an outdated solution, less safe. I have no idea where this requirement came from." And he confirmed the members of the Defence Committee were not given the requirements in advance nor invited for a discussion on the matter.

Deputy Jan Bartošek (KDU-ČSL, another opposition party) interpellated the Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar asking how important the protection of lives of soldiers would be for the choice of the new Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The minister previously stated this was to be the essential attribute of the tender. The PUMA IFV, disqualified by the new requirement of manned turret, is generally considered to be the best protected IFV among the four vehicles.

This particular point has been mentioned by deputy Radovan Vích (SPD, opposition party), vice-chairman of the Defence Committee, in another interview for the Security Magazín. So far, both solutions were accepted, and it was expected they would be both compared within the evaluation of the complex of parameters of the vehicles. Both solutions offer different advantages and disadvantages.

See also: Czech Infantry Fighting Vehicle Tender – manned or unmanned turrets?

Former chairman of the Defence Committee David Kádner said the Ministry of Defence appears to "change the rules during the game", and he joined the above mentionned politicians who do not understand the requirement of manned turret. According to him even the Ministry of Defence is unable to clearly explain the change of stance.

The Ministry of Defence would like to make its final choice by the end of 2019. The tender did not actually start yet, and there is already a first complaint in a law suit against the rules. An important delay can be expected for the whole project. The Ministry of Defence might need to give a clear answer on why manned turret, and why such requirement was not announced from the very beggining.

See also: Czech Army’s Modernization Projects: the IFVs

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