The purchase of off-road vehicles: the Army is to defend the change of assignment

The purchase of off-road vehicles: the Army is to defend the change of assignment
Caption: UAZ 469
10 / 08 / 2020, 10:00

One of the priorities of the Ministry of Defense is to replace old Soviet-era vehicles with new modern ones. This also applies to the hundreds of obsolete UAZ and Land Rover Defender off-road vehicles, which the Army wants to replace with modern pick-up vehicles. However, the previously announced tender was canceled before Christmas, with the Ministry of Defense announcing a new one in June. There are severa controversial and weak points in this tender for about 2 billion crowns.

The intention was clear at first. The Ministry of Defense wanted to replace obsolete military equipment with modern vehicles, in this case the old Soviet UAZ 469 cars from the seventies, and Land Rover Defender which is no longer produced. The Ministry plans to gradually replace these vehicles with modern off-road pick-ups, for which funds of approximately 1.6 billion crowns are to be set aside. The winner of the tender should then deliver up to 1,200 new cars. Currently there are 13 companies applying for the contract. Pick-up vehicles are to perform mainly rear and logistical tasks, so they will not be directly involved in the fight.

See also: Patriot 4x4 Tactical APC

At the end of 2019, however, the tender for the supply of 1,200 off-road vehicles was canceled and a new one was announced in June. As spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, explained: "We canceled the contract in accordance with the law, because some of the interested parties interpreted some required parameters too strictly, for example for vehicle painting." At that time MP Pavel Růžička,  member of the Defense Committee representing the major government party, wondered about the original tender conditions, from which, according to him, it was not clear whether the army wanted a passenger off-road vehicle or a pick-up, i.e. small truck.

The assignment of the Ministry of Defense was not entirely clear. The original requirement for an off-road passenger car in category M1 or M1G, which the Army originally wanted, ceased to apply, and the new requirement was for the purchase of another category of off-road vehicles, a pick-up in category N1G, trucks weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. This is a four-door variant, because the two-seater version could not replace the old Soviet vehicles or Land Rover. The new cars should accommodate a crew of five, cargo and equipment.

The problematic point is especially the fact whether pick-ups can adequately replace older vehicles, which have already been mentioned. Militarized civilian pick-ups are used by NATO armies only in a few cases. The planned vehicles are small and the space is cramped, and as the Ministry of Defense expects the pick-ups to carry five soldiers, the three men of the crew would fit in with considerable difficulty, the back of the cabine being really small.

See also: New Airborne Regiment will need new 4x4 Lightweight Vehicles (2020)

The above statement is contradicted by the Chief of the General Staff Aleš Opata, according to which there was a misunderstanding of what the new vehicles will actually be used for. Above all, they are not supposed to fight or serve in the first line, combat vehicles are designed for that. Emphasis is placed primarily on the off-road characteristics of cars, reliability and durability. It is obvious, on the other hand, that the efforts of the Ministry of Defense are driven by saving funds, for lower comfort of the crew. If you buy pick-ups that are half a meter shorter than large variants of the vehicle, the ministry can save money.

We will see how the tender with some unclear parameters will develop further, and whether the Army will finally be able to defend the change of assignment. In any case, the Ministry of Defense wants to be clear about the winner of the tender by the end of this year.

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