NATO Days 2020 – Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Fighter Jets for the Czech Army

NATO Days 2020 – Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Fighter Jets for the Czech Army
Author: Rheinmetall|Caption: LYNX KF41
22 / 09 / 2020, 10:00

This year's NATO Days, which took place this time without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures, opened up several issues related to two important contracts - the tender for the acquisition of new Infantry Fighting Vehicles, as well as the ways to protect Czech airspace in connection with the end of the JAS-39 Gripen lease in 2027.

Despite the tightening measures that were put in place in a growing coronavirus pandemic, this year's NATO Days provided ample scope for potential suppliers of new IFVs, for whom this was the only opportunity, but more importantly because the traditional event did not lack key figures who can influnce military contracts - Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar and Chief of General Staff General Aleš Opata. NATO Days was also the only chance or opportunity for the IFV manufacturers to meet and negotiate with them.

See also: 20th NATO Days in Ostrava to mark the anniversary and thanks to those deployed in the front line

The tender for new IFV is currently a key project of the Czech Army. It has already been delayed several times and we were expected to know the winner back in 2018. However, this did not happen and the competition continues only with the participation of three applicants. At the same time, the question arises as to whether the Government will complete the tender or whether it will be up to the next cabinet to complete the contract. It is interesting that Prime Minister Babiš did not visit any stand of a potential supplier of new IFVs, as he probably wanted to demonstrate his neutrality in the ongoing tender; like he did at IDET 2019 last year.

Rheimetall with the Lynx vehicle, GDELS (General Dynamics European Land Systems), which brought its ASCOD to the Czech Republic, and BAE Systems, which, unlike in previous years, did not bring its CV90, took part in NATO Days.

Lynx KF41 is offered to the Army of the Czech Republic in the ongoing tender with the aim of replacing the existing obsolete BVP-2 (BMP-2), which has been serving in the Czech (Czechoslovak) army since the late 1980s. The Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle celebrated its worldwide debut at the Eurosatory 2018 in Paris. Weighing around 40 tons, the vehicle boasts a high load capacity and a maximum internal volume that allows to safely and comfortably carry a three-member crew and up to nine troopers.


ASCOD 42, developed by GDELS, in the design of Infantry Fighting Vehicle has a base weight of 38 t, but with the possibility of increasing it to 42 t. ASCOD 42 therefore has a large weight reserve for growth potential and modernization or special equipment. The crew of the vehicle consists of three soldiers (commander, gunner and driver), and the vehicle can carry up to eight troopers. The Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon in the MT-30 MK2 manned turret has an elevation range of -10 degrees to +60 degrees, which is of exceptional value among modern infantry fighting vehicles with manned turrets. Thanks to the large elevation range and the high rate of fire of the main weapon and modern electronic observation or aiming systems, the ASCOD 42 can thus effectively act against air targets.

The CV90 is the third vehicle to compete in the Czech Army tender. The CV90 IFV developed by the Swedish company BAE Systems Hägglunds is a modern, adaptable and proven combat vehicle. A total of 1,280 CV90s in 15 variants have already been sold to seven countries, including four NATO allies. The latest generation of the CV90, purchased by the Norwegian Armed Forces, is one of the most modern IFVs currently in production in the world.

From the large participation of individual producers in the NATO Days, it can be deduced which manufacturers are really serious about participating in the Czech tender for 52 billion crowns. Rheinmetall and GDELS have invested in being able to arrive at the two-day traditional event, even under strict conditions. It is possible to say that the Lynx and the ASCOD take over the role of the favorites, while BAE Systems has taken on the role of outsider.

In addition to the key Army tender for new IFVs, the topic of future protection of Czech airspace came to the fore. The lease of JAS-39 Gripen aircraft ends in 2027, and another question is how the airspace should be protected in future. In the conditions of the Czech Army, similar contracts have been competing for 5 years, so the selection should begin as early as 2022. However, this task will probably "fall" to the next Government, which will have to choose the most appropriate solution. This means a relatively clear signal for potential suppliers to present themselves ahead of time at this year's NATO Days, even though there are still 7 years left until the end of the Gripen lease.

See also: The Ministry of Defense is changing the parameters for the new IFV again - will the army have to accept a Cold War technology?

At the NATO days, the Swedish company SAAB and the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft were present. One of the variants seems to be the possibility of further extension of the lease of these aircraft until an unspecified date. Lockheed Martin also presented itself at the event. Prime Minister Babiš visited the stands of both companies and spent about the same time at both.

JAS-39 Gripen

Lockheed Martin could theoretically offer two solutions, on the one hand a modern version of the F-16 aircraft (Slovakia ordered recently 14 state-of-the-art versions of the F-16 fighters), or a significantly more expensive variant: the 5th generation jets, the F-35. These will form part of the armament of the Polish Air Force. In the case of Poland, the contract is for the supply of 32 F-35 fighters worth 4.6 billion crowns. The question remains, which variant will the Czech Republic prefer in the end, whether a further extension of the lease, or a solution that envisages new modern aircraft that will protect our airspace in the future.

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