Minister of Defense on the CAESAR guns acquisition – the negotiations will be hard

Minister of Defense on the CAESAR guns acquisition – the negotiations will be hard
Author: Nexter|Caption: CAESAR
03 / 05 / 2021, 10:00

Last Wednesay, in addition to the IFV or the fine for helicopters, the Defense Committee also discussed another monitored current topic - the acquisition of the 155mm self-propelled guns. Last year, the CAESAR type from the French state-owned company CAESAR was selected. One of the conditions is that the gun will be placed on a Tatra 8x8 chassis, due to its introduction in the Czech Army. And also due to the achievement of a significant share of the Czech defense industry in the contract. The Ministry of Defense recently received a preliminary price offer, which significantly exceeded the planned price of almost 6 billion crowns. And in addition to the price, demanding negotiations are still being and will be conducted on the degree of involvement of domestic companies in this contract.

CAESAR guns from NEXTER are to be acquired with exception from the Public Procurement Act in the form of a government-government purchase from the French Government. However, the price offer received by the Ministry of Defense from France on Friday exceeds the original price of nearly six billion crowns, based on a marketing survey and feasibility study, by more than two billion.

See also: MP interpellated PM Babiš about the purchase of self-propelled guns – prime minister assures him the Government demands the maximum in terms of the Czech defense industry participation

According to the Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar, the offer covers items that exceed the fair value in terms of price, as well as items that the Army of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Defense did not request for their new guns. A letter immediately went to France listing the problems of the offer, which, according to the Deputy Chief of Staff General Hlaváč, showed formal issues because it was processed according to invalid annexes to the Czech assignment. According to Lubor Koudelka, Deputy Minister for Armaments and Acquisitions, there was a mistake on the French side. For May 4, representatives of the French supplier are invited to the Czech Republic for a personal meeting. An expert opinion will be prepared on the final price as to whether this is the usual price at the time and place. However, the price and item structure of the offer is not the only complex point of the whole contract.

The question is the degree of involvement of Czech defense industry companies in the contract, not only in the acquisition of 52 howitzers, but also in their service and maintenance during the life cycle, and a very important point in artillery: also in terms of ammunition supplies.

The Ministry of Defense requires at least 40% involvement of Czech industry in the contract. According to the rapporteur, MP Jan Řehounek (ANO), the French are not contradicting this, and they are even surpassing the request in their offer by 4-5 percentage points. However, MP Pavel Růžička (ANO) responded by asking exactly how this share is calculated, on the basis of what coefficients. Deputy Koudelka's answer showed that this is a complex problem and the committee will receive a written answer from the Ministry on how this calculation is made. According to Security Magazine, the issue of the Czech share of the contract may be a more serious problem than it appears, and without a satisfactory solution, Minister Metnar will not sign the contract.

See also: Purchase of guns from France: Defense delayed their acquisition

The key to the contract will be the issue of ammunition supplies. It is clear that the interest of the Czech Republic is the production of ammunition on its own territory. Already today, the Czech defense industry produces the corresponding ammunition and needs certification from the manufacturer for use with the newly acquired guns. Licensed production of French ammunition would be much less advantageous, and even from this point of view, the calculation of the Czech participation in the contract is significant.

Negotiations will take place intensively from May 4, and the Ministry of Defense wants to sign the contract for new guns in summer. The Subcommittee on Acquisitions, and subsequently the Defense Committee as a whole, expressed support for the project, stating that the current bids significantly exceeded the framework considered so far, and asked the MoD to inform the members of the committee about the results of the ongoing negotiations at the next meeting, or sooner if the results are achieved in the meantime.

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