Joint procurement and modernization of the T-72 tanks?
The session of Ministries of Defence of the Vysegrad Four (V4) countries in Ostrava picked up on the NATO Days and the Czech Army Air Forces Days. The ministries of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary were solving the issue of mutual cooperation and actual themes of the North Atlantic Alliance and the European Union. An interesting item was possible joint procurement.
Minister Metnar has introduced priorities of the Czech chairmanship. The Czech Republic wants to continue creating EU combat groupings, what is the biggest proof of cooperation within V4. Another priority is to start closer cooperation in the field of joint procurement. “We reduced our exaggerated ambitions and plans. And we want to start with something real, namely a joint purchase of ammunition. In the long-term, we can see a potential in common training on subsonic aircraft, in purchasing different arms or in modernization of the T-72 tanks. This modernization is also an occasion for cooperation of our companies,” resumed Minister Metnar.
Picture: "In the long-term, we can see a potential in common training on subsonic aircraft, in purchasing different arms or in modernization of the T-72 tanks,“ resumed Minister Metnar (the picture shows the modernized T72M4-CZ tanks) | army.cz
Nothing, however, was specified in detail on the subsequent press-conference in reaction to a question of Ondřej Stratilík from Právo newspaper. Minister Metnar said that there is no concrete conception of the number of ammunition, calibres, or financial value. Shortly, we know that we want to act together to achieve something, but has no imagination what and for how much. Czech companies surely have something to offer, but the V4 session evidently means just complimentary greeting of ministers.
Information on modernization of the T-72 was surprising enough, because it is a rather old platform, and the Ministry of Defence (or the General Staff) declared several times in the past that it was necessary to replace this Soviet equipment. Nowadays, one could count fully functional modernized T-72 M4CZ tanks on the fingers of one hand, and older models of the T-72 M1 tank are suitable primarily for the training of Reserve Forces units. Could the investment in modernization pay off? And in case of joint projects of the V4 countries, why should, for example, Hungary engage in this modernization? Hungary buys the Leopard 2A7+ tanks. Although Poland owns significant number of the T-72, these are old models (with an improbable reason of an expensive modernization). At the same time, Poland disposes of the Leopard 2 tanks. Slovakia, maybe, can participate in it, though there is an opinion there that it could be better to buy new tanks in the future years.
Concerning training on subsonic machines, there is evident endeavour to apply the newest aircraft from AERO Vodochody, L-39 NG, which can fly finally. The Army is going to purchase 4 pieces for training. Their tests and especially feedback after delivery of the first pieces will be decisive for their future success or non-success. Let’s hope that it will be at least partially so-successful platform as its predecessor, L-39 Albatros.