Slovakia Carries On with Efforts to Modernize 3D Radars

 16. 11. 2020      category: Events

Recently, the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic announced that it has already received offers for the supply of new 3D radars from all approached countries. New radars for the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic (OS SR) were offered by France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, Hungary, Poland, the USA, Spain, Italy and Turkey. All the offers were submitted before the deadline of September 30. It should be noted that this is not the first attempt by the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic to procure new radars. The Ministry of Defence has been trying to modernize radar technology since 2015.

p-37_2Picture: Soviet radar P-37 | army.cz

At present, the Air Force of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, specifically the Air Force Control Brigade, mainly use Soviet-made radars. It is most often the type of P-37MSK 3D radar. The first attempt to replace Soviet radars took place in 2015. The then Minister of Defence Martin Glváč announced an international competition for the supply of three new medium-range 3D radars with a possible option for a fourth radar. The contract price was set at 60 million euros without VAT and 6 companies entered the competition. After the new government took office in 2016, Peter Gajdoš was appointed Minister of Defence and tried to complete the project, but was unsuccessful. In April 2018, the tender was cancelled and the leadership of the Ministry of Defence decided to purchase new radars in the form of government - government. In addition to medium-range 3D radars, short-range radars were added to the new competition. The number of required new radars also increased, to a total of 17 pieces. At the same time, the price of the project climbed to more than 155 million euros, including VAT. The modernization of radars is to be implemented in the period from 2018 to 2025. A total of 12 countries were approached, including the Czech Republic. Which, in the end, did not send its offer to the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic. A total of 10 offers were received, of which offers from France, the United States and Israel were shortlisted. A team of experts, comprised of 35 members, recommended to the Ministry of Defence to procure radars from Israel, which are part of the Iron Dome air defence system in Israel.

In June of this year, the Ministry of Defence, led by Minister Jaroslav Naď, came up with modified competition conditions for the procurement of new 3D radars. A very important condition is greater involvement of the domestic defence industry in the process of realization of supplies, service and also the production of radars themselves. According to available information, the share of domestic defence industry involvement is expected to increase from the original 5 % to 20 %. The evaluation of the accepted offers started on October 5 and will take place throughout the month. According to the Minister of Defence Jaroslav Naď, the current setting of the project should be more transparent than it was in previous years. 

In terms of the importance of the project, the project can be included among the key modernization projects. The replacement and overall modernization of radars is included in the White Paper on the Defence of the Slovak Republic in 2016 in both stages of the implementation of armaments projects. Although it is already clear today that the modernization of primarily medium-range radars will not be achieved in the first stage (2016-2020), it is necessary to focus on the modernization of this type of technology as a priority. The reason is the insufficient technical capability of Soviet types of radars and the compatibility with NATO’s integrated air and missile defence system. The already mentioned greater degree of involvement of the domestic defence industry can be perceived positively as well – not only due to the development of Slovakia’s economic potential, but also due to the positive impact on employment.

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Picture: Israeli production radar ELM 2084 MMR | iai.co.il (with courtesy of the author)

Of the offers received by the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, two have the greatest chance – the offer from the USA and the offer from Israel. The offer from the USA may be interesting for Slovakia mainly because Slovakia plans to procure F-16 aircraft as part of the modernization of the air force, which are to replace the obsolete MiG-29 aircraft. In such a case, a possible intersection of projects could also be considered, which could have a positive impact on the development of the Slovak Air Force, as well as on the domestic defence industry. What also works in favour of the Israeli offer is the contract for the supply of ELM 2084 MMR radars for the Czech Army from 2019. A possible acquisition of Israeli radars would thus enable the deepening of cooperation in the field of joint protection of the airspace of both our countries, which is defined in the 2017 agreement.

 Author: Otto Dóka