Defence budget cuts after the Chinese virus crisis

Defence budget cuts after the Chinese virus crisis
Caption: ShKH M77 DANA 152mm Self-Propelled Gun Howitzers
16 / 04 / 2020, 10:00

The Government of the Czech Republic has announced extraordinary measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, which has far-reaching consequences not only for the personal life of the country's citizens, but also for the state economy. At the same time, there are some confusing situations: Prime Minister Babis claims that we are at war against the virus and doubts whether we need to buy the IFV‘s right now, finance can be used elsewhere, and then Defence Minister Metnar declares that there are three key and untouchable projects: the acquisition of the tracked IFV‘s (CZK 52 billion), the acquisition of modern air defense systems to replace the KUB system (10 billion) and the aquisition of 155mm howitzers (5.2 billion) in a total financial volume of 67.2 billion crowns.

Czech Army has its long-term requirement for the tracked IFV‘s, ie 7 variants of vehicles on the same chassis. Weapon systems are different and deployment tactics is a question. The estimated value of the contract is CZK 52 billion. The reconnaissance vehicles or artillery reconnaissance/observation vehicles can be a matter of debates. The inability of most modern tracked IFV‘s, due to their weight, to cross water obstacles by floating and, due to their design, the lack of deep fording capability, essentially stops the reconnaissance patrol at the first river and allows the opponent to regroup and resist on the opposite shore. Many times it has been confirmed that dense vegetation in conjunction with quality camouflage will fool even the most advanced technology, but the actual presence of ground reconnaissance will reveal many. The solution and thus savings are possible by replacing part of the fleet of tracked IFV‘s by wheeled vehicles.

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Air Defence has been discussed many times. Firstly, in relation to the use and subsequent upgrading of the RBS-70 system to the RBS-70 NG, and also in relation to the decommissioning of the KUB system and its replacement by a modern system. RBS is independent. It is designed to combat air targets at a (very) short range without the need for detection or identification or guidance by other means. RBS is used against targets in direct visibility. Air Defence missiles, which will replace the KUB system, are tied to the MADR radar system, which si also not yet installed.

The purchase of 155 mm NATO howitzers is discussed even longer. Variants shifted from the point of rearm of the artillery regiment + several systems to the training center at the University of Defence in Vyškov, through the modernization of existing ShKH M77 DANA, then partial rearmament and partial modernization back to full modernization, ie acquisition of 52 major 155 mm NATO for the artillery regiment and training base at the University in Vyškov.

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The 155mm artillery calculates fire elements differently than the 152mm artillery. So if Minister Metnar says the priority is to get a modern 155 mm NATO howitzer, he should say how they will fire: we need an army for the 21st century, so the first thing we need is a suitable artillery fire constrol system. The artillery fire control system should be subordinate to the senior level command and control system and be able to coordinate modern weapons (155 mm), reserve weapons (152 mm), support means (mortars, rocket launchers), reconnaissance means (drones, artillery observers) and cooperation means, such as the Air Force, etc.

Such a system exists in our neighborhood, the Polish TOPAZ system, and the manufacturer is willing to transfer the technology to the Czech Republic for licensed production, and has tested installation in both ShKH DANA and other means. This would eliminate the costs of further development and certification.

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