Direct purchase of IFVs and MBTs? MEPs asked whether we are on time with the rearmament of our "heavy brigade"

Direct purchase of IFVs and MBTs? MEPs asked whether we are on time with the rearmament of our &quote;heavy brigade&quote;
Author: Jana Deckerová, army.cz|Caption: Czech Lion 2019
25 / 11 / 2019, 08:45

The Defence Committee discussed the new Concept of the Construction of the Army of the Czech Republic 2030. In particular, this document defines the outlook for military purchases for the coming years. The most important and costly task is to rearm the Land Forces with heavy vehicles (IFVs and MBTs). The timetable for rearmament arises from commitments to NATO.

Karel Krejza, a member of the Defence Committee, drew attention to this issue: "The Framework Nation Concept commits us to have the heavy brigade operational by 2026." Chief of General Staff Aleš Opata answered that the Army is not going to upgrade the old tanks T-72M4 CZ. However, he also confirmed the timeliness of the problem by stating that a team is already being up to analyze how to proceed in the MBT sector. The Chief of General Staff calculated that there are about 50 tanks to be purchased in near future.

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

MEP Krejza also opened the topic of the criticized IFV tender: “Do we have a backup plan if the tender fails for any reason? When I see the budgetary outlook and the Concept of the Construction of the Army, we should consider other ways of fulfilling the Alliance commitments than the classical competition.” The deputy thus mentioned the problem of a huge delays of almost all tenders that are run in the classical way. The clearest example is just the tender for IFVs, which is postponed repeatedly.

“I'm supporter of a direct purchase. If there were a situation like with the IFV, would the tender be flipped over and could we do the IFVs the same way we did the helicopters?” MEP Pavel Růžička (ANO) said on the same issue, hinting at the intergovernmental agreement with the US concerning the H-1 system helicopters acquisition.

Positive experience with direct intergovernmental purchases is newly made by Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar. He completed the selection of the 3D MADR radar with Israel and the helicopters with the US recently. He said this to be the safest and most transparent type of contract.

But what is the whole debate over the speed of purchasing ground heavy vehicles? Combat vehicles and tanks are now primarily operated within the 7th Mechanized Brigade. The new construction concept allows for the rapid purchase of IFVs and subsequently the MBTs. The concept defines the objectives in two primary milestones, the years 2025 and 2030. New IFVs should be fully operationally deployable within the first milestone by 2025. Tanks then fall into the period until 2030. This division must be studied in more detail.

The aspect of Alliance commitments is crucial. NATO armies operate within the Framework Nation Concept, in which individual national ties are grouped into larger clusters capable of autonomous tasks at the strategic level. Already today, for example, the Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade is affiliated with the 10th German Division.

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

Regarding the 7th Mechanized Brigade, and thus the purchase of IFVs and MBTs, the commitment is for 2026. Chief of General Staff Opata expressed that in his opening speech: "The most important are the objectives of development of capabilities of the Army, from 1st January  2026 we the readiness of a heavy mechanized brigade with three mechanized battalions and one tank battalion. This is a logical timeframe for us to complete our deliveries. ”

If tanks fall in the conceptual period of 2025 to 2030, it actually means the very beginning of this period. Therefore, the opening of the purchase of tanks must be done today to ensure their timely purchase.

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