The share of the Czech defense industry on the modernization of the T-72M4 CZ tanks will only reach 35%

The share of the Czech defense industry on the modernization of the T-72M4 CZ tanks will only reach 35%
12 / 10 / 2020, 10:00

Three dozen T-72M4 CZ tanks, including T-72M4 CZ-W command and VT-72M4 CZ rescue tanks will be technically improved on the basis of a contract concluded between the Ministry of Defense and VOP CZ state enterprise, for 907 million crowns (without VAT). The company has been at a loss for the last two years: minus 148 million in 2018, minus 69.5 million last year. According to the Ministry of Defense, Czech industry will have a 35% share in the contract, which is to help the army bridge the time before modern tanks are acquired.

We are reaping the bitter fruit of a technically successful but otherwise debatable modernization from the 1990s, thanks to which our vehicles are dependent on foreign production. The most discussed system, which is already beyond its service life and causes the low level of tank operability, is the Galileo fire control system. Its selection was surprising from the beginning. It is not a system developed for tanks or other land vehicles, but it has been used on ships and submarines. And in the end, after a drastic reduction of the entire modernization project, it has been installed also in thirty Czech tanks, which, of course, was further reflected in a significantly higher unit price.

See also: The Czech T-72 tank modernization project not canceled – but it should be

The Army has been in trouble with the fire control system for years. In 2016, the Ministry of Defense announced a public contract for the supply of spare parts for tanks - at that time no one signed up for the part concerning the fire control system. Neither VOP CZ did. Because the system was no longer manufactured in Italy. There was nowhere to take it. Unsecured spare parts, insufficient service and gradual cannibalization of parts as a temporary solution brought the tanks into a situation stated by the SAO in its inspection report in June: "The MoD did not meet the set minimum operability of modernized tanks of 85%, the average was less than 43%." During this period, the modernized tank covered an average of only 121 km/a year instead of 1000 km.

The principles of modernization of the T-72M4 CZ, later referred to as „technical improvement“, and in fact putting the tanks into service for the necessary time before new tanks are acquired, were announced in June 2018. They included aiming systems of the shooter and commander, communication and information systems as well as the modernization of the engine fuel system, engine control unit and automatic transmission.

This year, the offer price from VOP CZ proved to be a problem. In November 2019 it jumped from the Army's expected 0.9 to 1.515 billion crowns (without VAT). It did not reach the public until February 2020 and caused a scandal, Defense Minister Metnar promised to investigate the matter and assemble an expert team for this purpose. Instead, the Ministry of Defense resumed negotiations with VOP CZ, which resulted in a return to the original estimated price of 907 million, but without the modernization of the power unit.

"Determining the estimated value of a public contract, the subject of which is the technical evaluation of such a unique military equipment as the T-72 M4 CZ tank, is very difficult. The Ministry of Defense has legitimately chosen the method of determining the estimated value. The Government was informed of this expected value of the public contract for the technical improvement of tanks in June 2019," says Jana Zechmeisterová on behalf of the press department of the Ministry of Defense.

See also: Czech Army should buy new tanks, not upgrade the T-72 – former Chief of General Staff says

The Army will do without modernizing the engines of its tanks. But there also is a question of the extent to which the Czech defense industry will participate in the contract. Participate directly, not just by reselling foreign technologies. This is mainly in connection with the fact that VOP CZ has been at a loss for a long time, and the order for the technical evaluation of T-72M4 CZ tanks can also be read as an effort by the Ministry, which is the founder of VOP CZ, to improve its balance. "The share of participation of Czech industry is about 35% in the public contract," the MoD replied.

And this is really very little, considering that these are world-unique Czech tanks in negligible numbers. The modernization was developed by VOP CZ, the tanks were in its care at all times, and yet it does not have the capacity to put them into operation with a higher involvement of the Czech defense industry. VOP CZ is a company that is to play a crucial role as an integrator of Czech defense industry in the huge acquisition of tracked IFV’s. In their case, perhaps standard solutions will be chosen that will not put us in the same situation in 20 years as we witness with the T-72M4 CZ today.

Tags of article

This website uses to provide services, personalize ads, and analyzing visitor cookies. By using this site you agree.More information