New tanks for the Czech Army inside five years?
The 73rd Tank Battalion in Přáslavice, similarly as whole 7th Mechanized Brigade are worried by military engineering. Although the current T-72M4CZ tanks were modernized, i.e. these are tanks of the third generation now, their service life is on the precipice. To think that they are really all functional and usable is utopian. Which possibilities does the army have?
“This is a steel fist of our army; we deployed them for the penetration and for the demolition of the strongest enemy,“ presented the 73rd Tank Battalion in Přáslavice its commander Vít Ducháček. And tanks continue to be the decisive weapon in the current conflicts till now. No army can work without them. “These are steel beasts, kings of battlefield. The tank, which as first discovers the others and then fires, wins,“ added the deputy company commander of the 73rd Tank Battalion in Přáslavice Josef Světlík on the recent ball-firings during a conversation with editors. The tank is able to fire off six to eight shots per minute thanks to the effective automatic charging mechanism. Its purpose is demolition of buildings or destruction of live targets of the enemy.
The current T-72M4CZ tank contains a row of modern facilities, active protection, but brings relatively small quantity of ammunition. Thanks to the TURMS-T system, it is assumed that the target (the enemy) will be destroyed by the first shot. Depending on the used ammunition, it is able to breach an 500mm armour; some sources specified even up to 880mm, and that is on a distance approaching 3000 metres. Impressive values, although we have really very few tanks; the old-version M1 tanks are suitable especially to train active reserves and as a reserve, but they aren’t appropriate for a modern battlefield. The only planned modernization (remark: it must be signed very soon) are new radio stations. They should cost one and a half milliard; also service of the current military equipment for the maintenance of its operability is being prepared now for 900 million CZK. But it however can hardly stop gradual deterioration and obsolescence. What next?
In years to come, the soldiery plans to purchase at the most forty new tanks. Their price mustn’t exceed fifteen billion. The Military Technical Institute performs expert analysis which tank will be the best for the army. “The study should provide us with quite clear answers what operation environment will be in the future and which requirement for the tank will be issued,“ said Major-General Ivo Střecha, Director of the Force Development Division of the Ministry of Defence. What are possibilities and perspectives for the new tank for the Czech Army?
Most often they speak about a purchase or leasing of the German Leopard 2 vehicles in one of the newer versions. No doubt, till now it is a very powerful tank. Its benefits are proven by extensive experience of the European armies and good availability. There are also considerations about other types, such as American M1 Abrams or Israeli Merkava Mk IV.
For all of them (including Leopard 2) however there are strong counter-arguments, especially high dead-weight, which approaches 70 tons, which would mean extremal load for the infrastructure and logistics. What has to be emphasized is that these tanks mostly have four-member crews, so it will be necessary to create in the Czech Republic a new profession of tank charger and to increase adequately the state of the military units.
In addition, there are certain doubts of long-term potential of these relatively old vehicles. For the Leopard 2 tank, there is absolutely legitimate question whether it is a good idea to increase already high dependence of the Czech Republic on Germany, or on its rather-hardly predictable politic development.