Purchase of guns from France: Defense delayed their acquisition

Purchase of guns from France: Defense delayed their acquisition
23 / 11 / 2020, 10:00

The acquisition of 52 self-propelled 155mm CAESAR guns from the French state-owned company NEXTER worth approximately six billion crowns is temporarily suspended due to a "detailed analysis of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic". This confirms the information that the negotiations are not easy and the ideas of both parties differ to some extent. The Ministry of Defense is suspending the acquisition in a situation where it is questioned by opposition of the communist party on whose vote the approval of the state budget probably depends.

The draft state budget states in the chapter of the Ministry of Defense: "the actual acquisition of 155 mm ShD (self-propelled guns) is planned for the years 2022-2026 on the basis of approved changes." For 2021, it expects to spend half a billion crowns for next year, with a view to 1.26 billion in 2022, 1.2 billion in 2023 and the remaining 2.99 billion to a total of 5.95 after 2023.

"We see no reason for some military purchases that do not concern the protection of Czech citizens. For us, people are more than cannons or helicopters," said Vojtěch Filip, the chairman of the communist party recently. The party demands that the Government transfers a total of ten billion crowns from the defense budget for next year to the reserve to fight the pandemic. While by „the helicopters“ he apparently means the Venom and Viper multi-purpose and attack helicopters, which will cost 2.81 billion next year out of a total of 17.57, and the contract has already been signed, the contract for self-propelled guns has not been signed yet.

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

The French company NEXTER allegedly is requesting an advance payment of 30% of the entire value of the contract for the year 2021 as part of the contract negotiations. This would represent an expense not of the planned half a billion, but approximately 1.8 billion crowns. And the communists question even the half a billion.

The Army is counting on the acquisition of guns, and the order is also important for the Czech defense industry, although in recent months there has been speculation about the extent of its involvement in supplies, whether the guns themselves, subsequent service during the life cycle or ammunition production. In this regard, Prime Minister Babiš and Minister Metnar assured that the Government is doing its utmost to negotiate the best possible conditions for Czech companies.

Negotiations on the contract with NEXTER continue on technical, operational and contractual conditions. The supplier's request for a higher advance goes against the Ministry of Defense's efforts to spread payments on these large acquisition projects as long as possible. A "detailed analysis of the economic impact of the pandemic" on the defense budget will now be carried out. The question is whether the Ministry of Defense is thus trying to pressure the supplier to withdraw from his demands, or whether it is opening the door to end the acquisition for the possibility that the Government will accept the communist demand.

See also: Delivery of CAESAR howitzers: how shall we calculate what will the real share of Czech industry be?

In an interview with MF Dnes, Minister Lubomír Metnar stated, among other things, that in the event of cuts in the budget of the Ministry of Defense, he will "of course" resign. When listing the projects that the military would have to give up in the event of cuts, he mentioned off-road vehicles (MoD plans to pay 668 million for 400 vehicles next year), transport and logistics vehicles, tracked IFV (MoD expects to spend 4.21 billion already next year, the total cost will reach 51.68 billion) and the air-defence system SHORAD (this is 10 billion crowns with the first 800 million spent in 2022), but the self-propelled guns were not mentioned. He reiterated that the Army deserves the modernization of armaments.

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