New helicopters for the Czech Army. The time has come to choose.

 12. 08. 2019      category: Army of the Czech Republic

Permanent procrastination of the Ministry of Defence related to the procurement of new helicopters looks slightly funny with regard to the time which lapsed from the first marketing survey. However, it does not concern just helicopters, but a number of acquisition activities.  The situation of our neighbours in Slovakia seems to be absolutely different. Their acquisitions are being proceeded quickly, without undue delay.

New helicopters, infantry fighting vehicles, other cargo planes, MADR radar, helmets, uniforms, 4x4 vehicles… and the list could go on and on. What they all share is a long-term survey of the market. Although there is a lot of suppliers in our market, headed by Czechoslovak Group etc., which are able to ensure quite a part of the procurements, let’s say, on domestic soil. It is even funny to look back at the surveys for the purchase of helicopters and at obstacles that accompany them.

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Picture: New helicopters, infantry fighting vehicles, other cargo planes, MADR radar, helmets, uniforms, 4x4 vehicles… All these procurements have something in common. Long-term survey of the market.

The lawyer’s agency Holubová advokáti s.r.o. has demanded MoD on the current state and its intentions, and received this answer from Roman Hrabačka from MoD.

“The Ministry is going to purchase 12 multi-purpose helicopters, including armament (hereunder referred as a “Public Procurement”). The maximum price of the Public Procurement hasn’t been specified. The assumed value of the Public Procurement, specified on the basis of a marketing surveys in the period of 2015/2016 and 2017/2018, is about 12.5 milliard CZK. This value corresponds to the currently allocated financial resources from the Ministry budget.

The criteria for the purchase of the multi-purpose helicopters consist in a complex weapon system that meets all required abilities. This weapon system is built on one platform or two platforms with a high coincidence of structural assemblies and of related-to-it operational use, training and logistic support. As was defined, the weapon system has to include 12 helicopters.  The next criteria for suppliers of the required helicopters arise from the government-approved documents, i.e. that the military material has to be already well-proved in practice and must be procurable on the global market with safety-related material, and that the Czech defence industry was involved into the process of acquisition and provision of its life cycle (see document “Strategy of armament and support of the development of the defence industry of the Czech Republic till 2025”). The Ministry prefers to conclude a helicopter purchase contract till the end of 2019. “

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Picture: The criteria for the purchase of the multi-purpose helicopters consist in a complex weapon system that meets all required abilities.

This means in practice that the army, by extension MoD, has been procrastinating already for five years.  It seems that the current negotiations at the government-government level can advance the procurement; however, it starts to look like a joke. The army needs new equipment, and not after the next of many surveys. We could say that yesterday was already too late.

The situation in Slovakia is much more favourable: new Black Hawk helicopters, a signed contract for the purchase of fourteen modern F-16 fighters, modernization of 25 self-propelled howitzers, new radars, a tender for new infantry fighting vehicles and the list could go on and on.

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Picture: Slovakia has concluded a purchase agreement for fourteen modern F-16 fighters | Pixabay with author’s consent

Is it really carefulness and concerns about prosecution (the case of Parkan vs. Casa aircraft, etc.) a reason why it takes so long? With regard to practically zero procurements, it was evidently so under the Minister Stropnický. The Minister Mrs. Šlechtová has continually postponing procurements during her several months’ office as well. So, now perhaps there's a light at the end of the tunnel…

 Author: Martin Šiška