Minister of Defense admitted for the first time that the IFV acquisition may not be achieved before elections. Minister of Industry is asking for a larger share for Czech companies

Minister of Defense admitted for the first time that the IFV acquisition may not be achieved before elections. Minister of Industry is asking for a larger share for Czech companies
Author: GDELS|Caption: ASCOD 42
26 / 04 / 2021, 10:00

The tender for a new tracked IFVs for the Army of the Czech Republic in the estimated value of CZK 52 billion is likely to receive another blow, both from an unexpected side and at an unexpected moment. The tender was officially launched in the spring of 2019, and two years later, long after the original expected completion date, Minister of Industry Karel Havlíček objects that the involvement of the domestic defense industry in the contract should be higher than the required 40% from the beginning.

This request comes a month after the Ministry of Defense presented the schedule for the finalization of this acquisition to the deputies, and when the bidders should already prepare the final bids. For the first time, Minister Metnar openly admitted that the outcome may be decided by the new government after the October elections.

See also: The Defense Committee rejected the schedule for the purchase of IFV‘s: The contract should not be signed at the time of the election

The acquisition of tracked IFVs, which, according to all previous statements by representatives of both the Ministry of Defense and the Czech Army, is a key priority in the modernization of the armed forces, has long been accompanied by problems and delays. Two years after the announcement of official requirements and long after the original expected date of the decision, which was postponed also by the government’s anti-epidemic measures, the Ministry of Defense completes the comment procedure and awaits the opinion of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

It is not easy to say why the MIT's comments on requirements were not heard before they were announced and the whole process was officially launched. Now, more than a month after the members of the Defense Committee were acquainted with the timetable for finalizing the purchase drawn up by the Ministry of Defense, and when they also expressed disagreement with it, further complications are coming. Minister Havlíček calls for greater involvement of Czech defense industry companies in the contract, resp. direct production of vehicles in the Czech Republic.

Even without this controversial point between the MoD and the MIT, the entire schedule was already tense and at first sight unrealistic. By simply adding up the minimum deadlines, it was clear that the contract with the selected supplier would be signed by the Minister of Defense during the parliamentary elections, perhaps as a minister in resignation. That is exactly what the Defense Committee did not like.

With reference to government’s anti-epidemic measures, vehicle tests have also been postponed, will be carried out from the end of April to the beginning of June and will be evaluated subsequently. In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense will receive the final bids. The question is whether these can actually react to the new situation, if it occurs, and the requirement to involve Czech industry will be formally changed to more than 40%. According to their previous statements, the bidders intend to exceed this goal anyway. The question remains whether sufficiently, resp. what the new ministers of defense and industry will agree on and how the government as a whole will approach the problem.

See also: Tracked IFVs and tanks - after Hungary, Slovakia may also be faster in acquisitions of heavy equipment than the Czech Republic

For the first time, Defense Minister Metnar has openly admitted that the acquisition will not be completed by the end of the current government's term. However, this increases the risk that without a fundamental change of approach, the whole project will take months, which will jeopardize the date of January 1, 2026.

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