Czech IFV tender: PUMA withdrawn from the competition. Another blow for the criticized tender

Czech IFV tender: PUMA withdrawn from the competition. Another blow for the criticized tender
17 / 10 / 2019, 10:00

German company PSM, the manufacturer of the PUMA IFV, has withdrawn from the tender for the new tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle to replace the outdated BMP-2 of the Czech Army. The reasons are the problematic requirements of the Ministry of Defence and the Army of the Czech Republic, which unveiled its new requirements in March, especially the requirement of the manned turret – PUMA only comes with unmanned turret. After considering all the terms and conditions of the competition, PSM decided to withdraw from the tender and not to submit a binding bid.

New and surprising conditions were announced by the Ministry of Defence on 27th March this year. Even then, PSM objected, because the PUMA IFV could not meet the formal requirement of the manned turret. The vehicle’s main advantage: maximum protection of the crew, is based, among other features, on unmanned turret. In the initial marketing survey, the Army did prefer the unmanned turrets. Then it turned completely and launched an intense PR campaign to explain the reasons why manned turrets are better. The withdrawal of the vehicle seen by many and for a long time as the favorite of the tender with regard to the quality of its parameters, shows that the Army’s requirements are questionable and problematic.

See also: All four addressed competitors (BAE Systems: CV90, GDELS: ASCOD 2, Rheinmetall: Lynx, PSM: Puma) advanced to the next phase of the procedure for the delivery of 210 tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

PSM sees the possibility of converting the vehicle according to the requirements of the Czech Army as too complex and expensive, and will not bid, although it previously committed to comply with the requirements. "Although the PSM fully respects the Czech Army’s requirements for its new tracked IFV, they are so specific that the development would take a lot of time," the company said.

Although it would be technically able to modify the PUMA IFV, it would probably not be able to deliver a functional, tested and, above all, certified prototype within the required time limit. According to the statement, PSM is ready to supply the PUMA IFV as fully functional, tested and deployed in the German Bundeswehr, or to make partial adjustments according to the customer's requirements, and with the cooperation of the Czech industry – if requested. In Germany the certification of the existing model took five years. A fundamentally rebuilt type cannot be certified in a matter of months. Even the large and experienced manufacturers, ie Rheinmetall and KMW, which created the PSM, are unable to respond to a sudden change of requirements.

See also: Interview - General Vollmer explains the advantages of PUMA IFV

It is another problem of the biggest military tender in the history of the Czech Republic. Acquisition of 210 vehicles in seven variants with an estimated value of CZK 53 Billion and rearmament of the battalions of the 7th Mechanized Brigade. It also encounters the problem of choosing a law office charged with advice on the purchase of the vehicles. The selektion procedure has been canceled twice (in August 2018 and in March 2019), each time due to errors in the procurement process and to complaints by unsuccessful tenderers. On the basis of the last complaint, the Ministry asked the current winner to complete the documents. If the Ministry fails to successfully complete the selektion process for legal assistance, there is a risk of delaying the entire IFV tender. The tender is criticized by politicians and experts.

Three competitors are left: GDELS with ASCOD 2, Rheinmetall with LYNX and BAE Systems with CV90.

Press release of the Ministry of Defence (15th October):

In accordance with the schedule of the public order “Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle and its Modification - Purchase”, the Ministry of Defence received preliminary offers from three manufacturers today. Preliminary tenders were received from BAE Systems Hägglunds AB, GDELS - Santa Barbara Sistemas SA and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH.

At the same time, the Ministry received written information from PSM Projekt System & Management GmbH that it had decided not to submit any tender under this contract because of the need for a significant and costly rebuilding of their PUMA.

Now the project team will begin to assess the preliminary tenders received and then start their own multi-round negotiation procedure to improve their offers. Subsequently, suppliers will be invited to submit final offers.

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