End of the IFV tender? PM Babiš ordered minister of defence Metnar to stop the purchase

End of the IFV tender? PM Babiš ordered minister of defence Metnar to stop the purchase
20 / 04 / 2020, 10:00

We have already mentioned the inevitable reduction of the acquisition of tracked infantry fighting vehicles for 53 billion crowns as a result of state budget austerity measures. In mid-March Prime Minister Babiš said at a press conference that "we do not need the IFV’s immediately." Now the thing is getting concrete outlines and the long-term criticized and long-running tender should be "put back" - shouldn't we rather read "stopped and canceled"?

Andrej Babiš said on Czech Television on Saturday: "At the moment, there is probably no situation to buy the IFV’s for 50 billion.“ Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar is thus coming under pressure from two sides: the army needs a new tracked IFV as a replacement for the outdated BVP-2. According to Metnar, he wants to negotiate with the Prime Minister about the acquisition.

See also: Budget measures of the Ministry of Defence to counter the pandemic – Venoms and Vipers as unnecessary luxury

For the Ministry of Defence and for Lubomír Metnar personally, however, stopping the acquisition in its present form could largely be a liberation. The largest purchase of armaments in the history of the independent Czech Republic has been dragging for years, and in the preparatory phase a number of doubts have been criticized by experts and opposition and even coalition politicians.

The conditions and required parameters changed during the process. The Army launched a remarkable explanatory campaign in which it advocated the elimination of solutions such as the unmanned turrets i.e. by the risks of a broken wiper. After the unexpected elimination of the PUMA IFV only three of the four previously considered models (LYNX by Rheinmetall, CV90 by BAE Systems, ASCOD 2 by GDELS and PUMA by PSM) remained.

According to Jan Pejšek, Director of the Department of Communication of the Ministry of Defence, the call was to be sent to them at the end of April or May. By this summer, the competition was supposed to know the winner and according to the original schedule, the contract for the delivery of 210 vehicles in seven variants was to be signed this year. Given the many different initial delays, such a procedure may seem somewhat optimistic.

See also: Modernization of Land Forces after coronavirus: Reduction of the IFV project, wheeled vehicles and new tanks. How to deal with budget cuts?

In the new situation, the Army will have to rebalance its priorities. A solution could be to reduce the total number of tracked IFV‘s and replace some variants with wheeled vehicles, already produced in the Czech Republic (Pandur II, TITUS). As unpleasant as the postponement is, it becomes a reality. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence "more or less" agreed to put the acquisition back. It is an opportunity to start again and better. Instead of inventing discriminatory requirements at first glance, but according to clear criteria, quickly select the most suitable solution to meet today's trends and the possibilities of the crisis-affected state budget. Insisting on the scale set years ago in anticipation of GDP growth as well as the growth of the share of defence expenditure would endanger, among other things, another inevitable modernization projects.

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