Another attempt to purchase 8x8 Armored Combat Vehicles for the Slovak Army

 10. 08. 2021      category: Events
Přidat na Seznam.cz

The acquisition of new 8x8 wheeled combat vehicles is a project that has been discussed in the Slovak Army and the Ministry of Defense for several years. The public still remembers the failure of the Patria AMV 8x8 Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) project, in the development and production of which the Finnish and Slovak defense industries were to take part. The current Minister of Defense, Jaroslav Naď, called the project for the acquisition of Patria AMV vehicles a "manual for non-transparency" and decided to suspend it after taking office in 2020. Now, however, the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic has come up with new material, which deals with the purchase of new 8x8 AFV.

Genesis of the 8x8 AFV project

Although the project of acquiring new 8x8 AFVs for the Slovak Army is mainly associated with the person of Petr Gajdoš from the SNS political party, who led by the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic in 2016-2020, efforts to purchase new 8x8 figthing vehicles appeared in 2015. An important step towards the acquisition of the new 8x8 AFV was the signing of a cooperation plan between the then Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and the Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopaczowa.

This agreement concerned two projects - possible overhauls of the DANA self-propelled wheeled howitzers, which both countries have in their arsenal and production of the Rosomak - Scipio 8x8 AFV, while the chassis would be supplied by Poland and Slovakia would supply turrets through the EVPÚ and the DMD Group. The new Armored Fighting Vehicles were to replace the obsolete OT-64 wheeled personnel carriers, and in total Slovakia was interested in 66 such vehicles. In 2016, this Slovak-Polish project, as specified by the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic, was canceled, due to the economic and military disadvantage of the project for the Slovak Republic.

Pansarterrängbil_360_Revinge_2015-7Picture: Patria AMV | Jorchr / CC BY-SA 3.0

The story of the purchase of new Armored Fighting Vehicles continued in 2017. By the Resolution of the Security Council of the Slovak Republic No. 540 of 17 May 2017, the material of the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic entitled The Security Council recommended that the Government of the Slovak Republic approve the document of the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic. That eventually happened. In November 2017, the Value for Money Department under the Ministry of Finance issued its assessment of the planned acquisition project.

The planned investment in both types of vehicles, ie 8x8 and 4x4, was to amount to 1.2 billion euros. The number of vehicles on the 8x8 platform was to increase from the original 66 to 81 vehicles, while the cost of this type of fighting vehicles was to be 417 million euros. Among other things, the material states that the winning vehicle is the Finnish vehicle Patria AMV, which was evaluated as the best of the materials submitted by the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic. As stated in the document itself, the German Boxer also met the basic requirements of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, such as ballistic protection and mine protection.

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Picture: Boxer is a heavy wheeled armored personnel carrier, developed in cooperation between Germany and the Netherlands. | Heldt / Public domain

However, the Boxer was expensive (5.4 million euros a piece) and incapable of floating. Other vehicles that were evaluated were the Pandur, the Piranha, the Rosomak and the American Stryker. The Slovak defense industry was to have a share of up to 70% in the Finnish armored vehicle Patria AMV. The new vehicle was to be called Vydra and the final project was presented by the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic in the autumn of 2018. Unfortunately, even this attempt was not successful. Firstly, because the then Government did not decide on it in time, but the project also faced criticism from many security analysts and representatives of the political opposition. After the elections in 2020, the new leadership of the Ministry of Defense was to decide on the future of the project, which eventually happened. The project was suspended by Minister Jaroslav Naď.

The current plan of the ministry

Recently, the Ministry of Defense presented a new plan for the acquisition of 8x8 AFV. This plan is called "PROJECT INTENTION FOR Procurement of 8x8 Armored Fighting Vehicles". According to the information contained in this document, the Ministry of Defense plans to purchase up to 500 8x8 AFVs in various configurations over the course of several years. The document also attaches great importance to the 8x8 AFVs, as the 8x8 platform is the basis for ensuring the required operational capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, which result from international obligations.

In assessing the submitted bids, the total price of the vehicle, the total price of integrated logistical support, operating costs, NATO interoperability and, of course, the share of Slovak industry's involvement will be considered. According to information from the aktuality.sk portal, one of the conditions should be the ability to float. In the first phase of the project, a total of 76 8x8 AFVs in three versions is to be procured - a version of the 8x8 Armored Fighting Vehicle in the number of 60 pieces, a V 8x8 Armored Fighting Vehicle (command version) of a total of 6 pieces and an 8x8 AMBS Armored Fighting Vehicle (ambulance version).

The total cost of the vehicles in the first phase is to amount to approximately EUR 323 million with VAT, of which EUR 296 million is to go to the fighting vehicles alone. In the next phases of the purchase, in addition to traditional vehicle versions, 8x8 AFV will also be purchased in Air Defense variants, in the amount of up to 56 pieces (2nd phase) and in the version of 120 mm self-propelled mortar in the number of 36 pieces.

It is not yet known which combat vehicles Slovakia will choose from, but the participation of some vehicles in the tender can be expected. If we take into account Armored Fighting Vehicles with the ability to float, for example, the Pandur II, which is mass-produced in the Czech Republic and celebrates success in Southeast Asia. The possible success of the Pandur II in Slovakia could deepen the defense cooperation between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the deepening of which is of interest to both countries.

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Picture: Specifically, in the 8x8 configuration, Pandur II vehicles are used in various versions in the Army of the Czech Republic (pictured), in Portugal, and recently Indonesia has joined the Pandur users. | Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic

The Vydra vehicle, ie the Slovak variant of the Patria AMV or the Piranha V vehicle, which Romania or Spain is introducing into its arsenal, can also apply for the tender again. Theoretically, the participation of the Turkish PARS III 8x8 vehicle can be expected. For example, the participation of the Boxer combat vehicle can be expected too, but it does not have the ability to float.

PIRANHA-5-RomaniaPicture: The latest generation of Piranha vehicles has found customers in Denmark, Romania and Spain. | GDELS / Public domain

 Author: Mgr. Otto Dóka