Achievements of the state enterprise LOM PRAHA and future vision
The state enterprise LOM PRAHA celebrates its 108th anniversary this year. The company has seen remarkable development especially in the last two years. Behind this transformation into a modern company that has something to offer both the Czech Army and other partners is a team of experienced employees led by the company's director Jiří Protiva. According to him, the needs of the Czech Army have been met, and this is essential - as is the company's management.
Video: LOM PRAHA's achievements to date and future vision – a balance sheet interview with the company's director Jiří Protiva / CZ DEFENCE
There is no general recipe for starting a positive management and development of a state enterprise. In this case, Jiří Protiva was helped by his previous experience with the management of another state institution, namely the Military Technical Institute, which was dealing with a similar situation at the time. "LOM PRAHA is specific, it has a different portfolio, a different focus, a different process of operation. However, the customer and the arms environment is the same and management methods could have been applied similarly," says Protiva. What is important, he says, is the vision and development of the company, supported by a team of employees and managers. "Of course, it is about maintaining and developing the capabilities of the state-owned enterprise. You have to present those capabilities externally well enough to convince customers that you can do it. It is important, of course, to convince with real work, which is the basis for keeping customers coming back and winning new customers," Protiva explains. The primary customer of the state enterprise is the Czech Army. It accounts for 85% of the company's output. Does LOM PRAHA have room for further cooperation, for example with the private sector? According to Protiva's director, their "military portfolio" has been successfully offered to the civilian sector as well. "And not only in the aerospace industry, but also in engineering, automotive industry, even in healthcare," the director specifies. As an example, he says, the use of electroplating and machining is in great demand on the national market and abroad.
LOM PRAHA is no longer just the original three plants – aircraft, power units, upgrades and modifications. It is mainly the Flight Training Centre in Pardubice. The centre is primarily intended for training pilots of the Air Force of the Czech Army, but there is also room for offering free capacities for foreign clients. "Primarily these are EU and NATO countries, and of course we are also targeting countries outside this territory, with the proviso that this must be in line with the foreign policy of the Czech Republic. We have to honour that we only train participants from countries that are compliant within the Czech foreign policy. And there are many such countries, whether they are European Union countries such as Austria, Poland, Slovakia, or even more exotic countries such as Thailand," Jiří Protiva said.
Picture: State enterprise LOM PRAHA celebrates its 108th anniversary this year. The company has seen remarkable development especially in the last two years. Behind this transformation into a modern company that has a lot to offer both the Czech Army and other partners is a team of experienced employees led by the company's director Jiří Protiva | Michal Pivoňka / CZ DEFENCE
It is a service and simulation centre for the operation of the new UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters. It is located in Náměšt' nad Oslavou on the premises of the 22nd Helicopter Base of the Czech Army. It should start live operation this year. According to Director Protiva, LOM PRAHA first had to prove that it had the competence and capability to successfully bid for this project. Then it had to expand and train its staff and build up its facilities accordingly. This is when the final work begins. These are the installation of the simulator in the new simulation hall and the cataloguing and acceptance of the various parts and components for servicing the Venom and Viper machines.
To be a successful company, LOM PRAHA must invest and develop its offer and service. There are currently several projects that are helping the company to move away from its original remit of servicing post-Soviet helicopters and aggregates. They are focusing on new projects. These include the Krovka projects, a system and installation of protective equipment for CASA aircraft. "These projects show that we are westernizing our activities. This means that we are able to implement western avionics and other equipment into the eastern platform and get the original equipment of the Army to the NATO level in accordance with their standards and regulations," Protiva introduces. The Krovka project is actually an upgrade of the Mi-171Š helicopter so that the army will have all these machines upgraded to the new standards between 2026 and 2027. As for the CASA aircraft, it involves the installation of so-called flares. This, according to Jiri Protiva, shows the company's efforts to focus not only on the Mi platform, but to cover the servicing of other machines available to the ACR. The Mi-17 system project is a helicopter modernization project for transport capacity. It is a new seat system build. These machines will gradually replace the outdated and retiring Mi-8 helicopters in the lounge version.
In addition to the transition from Eastern to Western platforms and the use of the original experience that service and repair offerings in countries using the original Soviet equipment can bring to the company, there is a drive for entirely new opportunities. One that has been mentioned more and more recently is a potential collaboration with Lockheed Martin, with whom the Department of Defense is negotiating the purchase of 24 F-35 II Lightning supersonic aircraft. "This is another example that the state enterprise LOM PRAHA has something to offer. It has its logic, because when the Army of the Czech Republic acquires something in the field of aviation, in my opinion, LOM should be there to some extent, whether bigger or smaller," says the director of Protiva. The first bilateral negotiations have already taken place. They have opened up areas of possible cooperation in which the SOE could be a partner. This is the area of training, simulation technologies, maintenance and, of course, logistics for the Czech Army. As Jiří Protiva says, it is still at the negotiation stage, but the American side has admitted this scope of possible cooperation. "At the same time, we are also negotiating with the Czech army on how it would imagine the involvement of a state-owned enterprise," Protiva said, adding that it should be taken into account that the Ministry of Defence is yet to prepare material for the government, where it will decide whether or not to purchase the F-35. "However, we want to be ready. Whatever the outcome, we want to have the so-called work done and we want to have our share there. In any case, a possible cooperation with Lockheed Martin would be a prestigious matter for LOM PRAHA. It would be a reference that would definitely complete the transformation of the state enterprise from the Eastern to the Western platform."
Picture: In addition to the transition from Eastern to Western platforms and the use of the original experience that service and repair offerings in countries using the original Soviet equipment can bring to the company, there is a drive for entirely new opportunities. One that has been mentioned more and more recently is a potential collaboration with Lockheed Martin, with whom the Department of Defense is negotiating the purchase of 24 F-35 II Lightning supersonic aircraft. | Lockheed Martin
A good reference for the company would also be the developing cooperation in the new helicopter project with BELL Textron, GE's engine manufacturer. It is the extent of cooperation in this project that shows the strengths and prospects of the SOE for further possible industrial cooperation.
At the beginning of our interview, we mentioned that the success of LOM PRAHA over the last two years has been driven by the team around its CEO Jiří Protiva, who will celebrate two years with the company at the beginning of February. We were interested in what I would like to achieve in the company's activities by the end of this year. At the end of 2023, I see LOM PRAHA as a stable partner for the Czech Army, as a stable partner for the US side in the H1 platform, and as a partner that will be strong in that it can also transform itself as a state-owned enterprise and bring new portfolios to build on in the future."