The beginning of the end of the Czech IFV tender? Signing of the contract postponed till the end of 2020

The beginning of the end of the Czech IFV tender? Signing of the contract postponed till the end of 2020
01 / 11 / 2019, 10:45

The draft state budget for 2020 unveils that the signing of the contract with the chosen supplier of 210 tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles, which are to replace the BMP-2’s, is planned for the end of next year. Even in February at a meeting of the Lower House Defence Committee, it was said that the Ministry of Defence did foresee the signing of the contract for this December. With the announcement of the surprising new requirements on 27th March this was even moved forward for September 2019. Many experts and also members of the Defence Committee questioned such deadline, and now the development proves them right. For many reasons.

"The combat effectiveness of the heavy brigade will be enhanced by replacing the outdated Infantry Fighting Vehicle with a vehicle built on a universal track platform, with the assumption of contracting with the supplier by the end of 2020, with the prospect of delivering the first vehicles in 2022," we read in Chapter 307 of the draft state budget for 2020.

See also: Czech IFV tender - new requirements and controversies

"The Ministry of Defence expects to sign the contract for the acquisition, which is one of the largest in the history of the Czech Republic, by September this year," we read in the press release of 27th March. The budget expects to spend CZK 1.97 billion in 2021, 911 million in 2022, and the total project expenditure of 51.68 billion.

On 15th October, the Ministry of Defence received three bids for the supply of the IFV’s from BAE Systems Hägglunds AB (CV90), GDELS-Santa Barbara Sistemas SA (ASCOD 2) and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (LYNX). The bid was not submitted by PSM with the PUMA vehicle. Martin Lank, president of the National Permanent Security Conference, said, in an interview for Security magazine, that this might be the beginning of the end of the tender, "which the ministry stopped believing in." Preliminary tenders are now being assessed by the project team, and suppliers will be invited to submit final bids. The whole process was supposed to be finished a long time ago, but the acquisition is now postponed by at least a year.

See also: Czech IFV tender: PUMA withdrawn from the competition. Another blow for the criticized tender

One of the reasons for this is the fact that the Ministry of Defence has not yet competed the selection of a law office charged with advice on the purchase of the vehicles. The selection procedure has been canceled twice (in August 2018 and March 2019), each time due to errors in the procurement process and to complaints by unsuccessful tenderers.

At the same time, each delay threatens another declared objective. At the end of March, the Chief of General Staff said: "The modernization of the 7th Mechanized Brigade is necessary to increase the security of the Czech Republic and fulfill its obligations towards the Allies. One of the most important ones (...) is readiness of a heavy mechanized brigade with three mechanized battalions and a tank battalion by 1st January 2026."

The recently published document "Concept of the Construction of the Army of the Czech Republic 2030" identifies risks that threaten the goals of the development of our armed forces. And among them: "insufficient capabilities of the acquisition process not meeting the needs of the Army." If, assuming that the contract for the delivery of 210 vehicles was to be signed this year, the Chief of General Staff counted on the readiness of the 7th Brigade on 1st January 2026, the one-year delay would be hardly without consequences.

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