Members of the Defense Committee on the purchase of CAESARs: do not buy without the required involvement of Czech industry

Members of the Defense Committee on the purchase of CAESARs: do not buy without the required involvement of Czech industry
22 / 10 / 2020, 10:00

In recent days, several members of the House Defense Committee gave their opinion on the acquisition of self-propelled 155mm CAESAR howitzers from the French company NEXTER, which the Czech Republic wants to acquire for the 13th Artillery Regiment through a government-government purchase. The most important questions concern the condition of the Czech defense industry's involvement in the contract, and specifically possibility of supplying ammunition produced by Czech companies. The MP’s agree that at least a 40% share of the contract is a necessary and, in principle, insurmountable requirement, especially in times of crisis. They expressed the hope that the French partner would be able and willing to comply with the request, but there was also a clear message: if not, we would rather cancel the purchase.

All members of the committee who responded agreed that the high level of involvement of Czech industry in the acquisition of self-propelled guns, and in general in all arms contracts, is crucial and strategic in the current and expected crisis. According to the chairwoman of the committee, Jana Černochová (ODS), "it will support our economy and employment, but also to transfer know-how and increase competitiveness. It is one of the ways to ensure that in the event of a crisis and keep the armed forces operational and combat-ready. "

See also: Czech defense industry can produce the 155mm artillery ammunition - and should also supply it for new CAESAR howitzers

According to government MP Josef Hájek (ANO), the selected supplier, the French company NEXTER, does not contradict the Czech party's requirement for 40% representation of Czech companies in the contract, as the Ministry of Defense recently stated. And a possible withdrawal from the treaty, if it turned out that the French would not be able or willing to comply with this request, would be an extreme option, he said.

Vice-Chairman of the Committee Radovan Vích (SPD) pointed out that buying without a tender does not bring the cheapest option, and recalled that the Danes bought their CAESARs for CZK 75 million/piece, while the Czech price will be 105 million. And like the chairman of the subcommittee on acquisitions, Jan Řehounek or another deputy, Pavel Růžička (both ANO), categorically stated: "In addition, if the representation of our defense industry is to be less than 40%, the MoD should withdraw from the contract." Jana Černochová said: "If this happens, then it is necessary to insist on our conditions, even at the cost of cancelling the acquisition of the system in question. However, I do not expect the French side to refuse to involve the Czech defense and security industry."

It would also be "unimaginable" for MP Pavel Růžička if ammunition for new cannons was not produced in the Czech Republic. He explains this by the proven fact that what we cannot produce at home in times of crisis, we cannot have. The other Members addressed were of the same opinion. Jan Řehounek said that "in the case of ordinary ammunition, whether with short or extended range, it should clearly be domestic production, for example under license from NEXTER", and Jan Bartošek (KDU-ČSL) also described it as an important part of the agreement.

On the G2G method of purchase, MEPs appreciate the speed of acquisition and the opportunity to negotiate the best possible conditions. At the same time, however, government-government purchasing poses risks that need to be taken into account in negotiations. The Ministry of Defense must not miss any of the logistical support for the entire life cycle of the guns within the negotiated contract, as the Supreme Audit Office recently stated. Radovan Vích warns that although the lower the costs associated with the life cycle in the initial contract, the better the product is evaluated, but if anything significant is neglected, another contract will have to follow, which will increase the total costs. "They should always proceed transparently and with the care of a proper manager when making contractual arrangements. However, the MoD does not seem to be behaving in this way," he concluded.

See also: Czech Republic must gain the involvement of the Czech defense industry in the acquisition of new guns, MP says

The members of the committee mostly expressed the belief that the Ministry of Defense would be able to actually negotiate good conditions for both the army and the Czech defense industry. Pavel Růžička reminded of the purchase of MADR radars, which took a long time, but in the end it succeeded under favorable conditions. His colleague, Jan Řehounek, has the hope that with the arrival of Deputy Koudelka "excesses from the time of Deputy Říha or Koštoval will not be repeated." The Defense Committee will, of course, continue to monitor the acquisition. Jan Bartošek emphasized the importance of control in a situation where the ministry manages a large part of the state budget. "The answer to the question of whether the MoD sufficiently defends Czech interests will be shown in the near future by the parameters of the negotiated agreement," said Josef Hájek, vice-chairman of the committee.

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