Oliver Mittelsdorf: The Lynx Vehicle in Competition in the Czech Republic, Australia and the USA
Our army is in dire need of new infantry fighting vehicles to replace the obsolete BVP-2 tracked vehicles. The Ministry of Defence plans to sign the contract by the end of this year, and companies will be approached with the request to spread the financing of the purchase over six years. "We promised the army new and modern combat vehicles. It will be certainly more complicated now, in the times of saving, but we have found a solution for financing the purchase, spread over a longer period of time, so we need to follow through," said Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar recently. One of the competitors is the new Lynx KF41 combat vehicle manufactured by the company Rheinmetall. We asked Oliver Mittelsdorf, the vice president of the German arms factory Rheinmetall, a few questions not only about the Lynx vehicle.
1) Mr. Mittelsdorf, please could you introduce Rheinmetall and the portfolio of products which it directly produces or participates in to our readers?
Rheinmetall Defence has many years of experience in the production and innovation of armoured vehicles, weaponry and ammunitions, as well as in the areas of air defence and electronics serving naval, air force and internal security requirements. We also develop customised training and simulation solutions. I am responsible for Sales of Tracked Vehicles and Turrets.
2) Which countries are currently interested in the Lynx?
We are currently competing with the Lynx in the Czech Republic, Australia and the USA. We are also actively pursuing other opportunities in Europe and around the world.
3) The selection procedure for new IFVs for the Czech Army is taking longer than expected. I assume nothing has changed regarding your offer to supply the Lynx?
Not at all! We are highly focused on the Czech programme.
4) Has the Lynx received any special transformations or modifications according to the requirements of the Czech Army?
We have customised the Lynx to suit the special requirements of the tender: for example, the GFE requirements of the ACR.
5) The tender for new IFVs specifies involvement for the domestic defence industry as a requirement. If the Lynx succeeds, how will this collaboration be realised within the production process? And in what time frame will you be able to deliver the fighting vehicles?
In the event that the Defence Ministry chooses Lynx, Rheinmetall will immediately expand operations for development, production and procurement in the Czech Republic, including employing Czech engineers, technicians and workers. We have been mining the rich seam of qualified, talented and skilled engineers that exists in the Czech Republic for several years. The country is already host to more than a thousand jobs from our Automotive sector located in the region of Ústí nad Labem, while Rheinmetall Defence has been a longstanding customer of numerous Czech defence suppliers including Ray Service, Česká zbrojovka, Quittner & Schimek and MEOPTA. Rheinmetall’s industrial partnership programme in the Czech Republic was well established before the current IFV tender got underway, so further co-operation would build on solid foundations to the benefits of the Czech private and state owned industries.
As for the delivery time, Rheinmetall will fully comply with the requirements as set out by the Czech Ministry of Defence.
6) Can you tell us about how the Czech Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence have been conducting communications regarding the tender for new IFVs? Have you noticed any ambiguities within the tender process?
Communication with the MoD is very professional and effective, and it all takes place according to the agreed procedures.
7) You have previously mentioned your good experience with the Vojenský technický ústav (VTÚ) institute and discussed the possibility of conducting tests there regularly. Does this still interest you, despite the number of professional testing facilities in Germany?
Of course! There is no time to waste. We are currently conducting several testing activities with the Lynx, other platforms, and component parts, and we always consider VTU an excellent option for conducting our tests.
8) If the Lynx does not succeed in the tender and another platform is chosen, do you intend to continue your co-operation with selected companies in the Czech Republic? Have any agreements or contracts already been signed, irrespective of the result of the tender for the Czech Army?
Even without the selection of the Lynx by ACR, we are co-operating with several Czech companies for the Lynx and for other products involved in international programmes. I see no reason at all for this to change in the future, as this co-operation started years ago.
9) Coronavirus has affected the entire world. Has Rheinmetall experienced any slowdown resulting in the extension of deadlines, or even the cancellation of shipments? Has coronavirus affected your supply chains?
Together with our suppliers, we took immediate steps to cope with the situation caused by coronavirus. At present none of our programmes in the defence sector have been adversely affected.
10) Can you reveal Rheinmetall’s future vision to our readers? What plans do you have going forwards?
The emergence of the next generation of main battle tanks is on the horizon. Rheinmetall looks forward to contributing its expertise and technologies to forthcoming developments, such as our 130mm canon for the Main Ground Combat System and related programmes.