Thanks to the Cooperation with BAE Systems, VOP CZ Could Secure Work for the Next Years

 23. 09. 2020      category: Army of the Czech Republic

If the tender for the supply of CV90 MkIV combat vehicles is won by BAE Systems, it will also be a victory for VOP CZ. It will be a key and strategic partner for the production of vehicles for the Czech Army. In addition to the direct production of essential components of CV90 vehicles and their assembly, BAE also counts on strategic cooperation with VOP CZ on the issue of the involvement of the Czech armaments industry, as well as the academic community. And this applies not only for production for the Czech territory.

CV90 Norway 2Picture: IFV CV90 | BAE Systems

The industrial cooperation proposed by BAE Systems as part of the supply of infantry fighting vehicles for the Czech Army is based on a concept that has already proven itself in six successful vehicle export programs in other European countries. Cooperation with Czech industry is based on five basic pillars - technology transfer, development, production, support and innovation - which meet the requirements of the Czech party and are also realistic in terms of the contract schedule.

High level industrial cooperation, not IKEA style

“For us, industrial cooperation is not just the assembly of a vehicle from the supplied parts, but the actual involvement of the Czech industry in production, as well as the development of the vehicle in all its variants. We want to transfer to the Czech Republic also the more demanding activities, we believe in the ability of Czech technicians and experts and we are ready to help them achieve a higher level of technical education through cooperation,” says Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, CEO of BAE Hägglunds, manufacturer of CV90 vehicle. He specifies that BAE will share information with VOP CZ and other partners, participate in teaching and subsequent implementation. 

“We have been negotiating with VOP CZ for a long time and all our negotiations convince us of the readiness of VOP CZ to participate in a joint project. VOP CZ is very well prepared for this role, and in cooperation with other state and private companies, the project of purchasing and operating IFVs for the Czech army can be a long-awaited boost,” said Gustafsson-Rask.

A frequent question is whether BAE Systems expects to build a new factory directly in the Czech Republic. "We do not think that the creation of a new factory and the assembly of vehicles in it is what the Czech Republic needs. The establishment of another assembly plant is something that we thought was beyond the needs of the Czech Republic, among other things due to the excessive dependence of Czech industry on those who use these assembly plants. In the end, this model may be one of the reasons for the delay in the supply of vehicles and it will not bring anything good to the Czech Republic" explains Gustafsson-Rask. BAE Systems therefore relies on proven and functioning Czech companies, both those owned by the state (VOP CZ, VTU, VVU) and private companies (MEOPTA, RAY Services or VR Group). BAE wants to work closely with VOP CZ also on the selection of partners from the Czech defence industry. Already today, over 40 companies from all over the Czech Republic are on the list of possible partners. 

BAE Systems' industrial cooperation model also creates opportunities for the Czech Republic to develop new patents, products and hardware and software solutions for a wide range of products. Given that all these innovations will come from Czech experts, all intellectual property will remain in Czech hands as a sound basis for future generations of scientists, designers and others, both in terms of intellectual principles and sources of funding. "The return on all BAE System's investments lies not only in money. They are becoming the basis of a strong industry focused on combat vehicles, not only on their production, but also on the development of exceptional intelligent technologies for combat vehicles and other means. We believe that our industrial cooperation program can mark the beginning of a new era for the Czech armaments industry, which will bring future profits. The added value of this solution is that the "brains" stay at home," explains Tommy Gustafsson-Rask.

Inspiration by innovation

Innovation is a key part of the industrial cooperation between the Czech Republic and BAE Systems. "We are already cooperating today with the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) in the field of cyber security of military platforms, and in the coming days an agreement will be signed on an introductory study of cyber security of combat vehicles. BAE Systems' goal is to extend this collaboration to the development of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems,” says Tommy Gustafsson-Rask.

The sovereignty of the Czech army is also part of the industrial cooperation

"Our experience shows that the sovereignty of every army is extremely important and begins with the fact that the army can not only manage on their own the equipment it owns, but can also further develop it. That's why we supply the vehicles with complete documentation, the so-called blueprints, and "teach" our new users about them," says Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, CEO of BAE Hägglunds. The Czech Army will thus obtain all technical information in order to be able to further develop and manage the vehicles themselves. This is very important. Because, for example, it makes it possible to produce spare parts without being dependent on any other state, nor on any private company in the strategic administration of such important military equipment. All this is also reflected in the setting up of BAE's industrial cooperation. This is another reason why BAE rejects the assembly plant as a form of industrial cooperation. They make no sense and are rather counterproductive. Only when the Czechs understand the vehicle, when they learn to know it in detail, only then they can continue to work with it,” emphasizes Gustafsson-Rask.

A unique offer for the Czech Republic. Global Combat Laboratory for infantry fighting vehicles

Under the contract for the supply of IFV CV90 MkIV, BAE Systems offers to build a Global Combat Laboratory in the Czech Republic, which would serve as a training and development center for all today's users of CV90 machines from around the world. The Czech Republic would thus gain a truly exclusive position in the development of the armed forces of the future. BAE Systems believes that this is a unique opportunity to improve the technical capabilities of the CV90 platform thanks to the knowledge and skills of Czech experts and the cooperation between academia and Czech industry, fully in line with the Czech Republic's Innovation Strategy. 

For BAE System, supporting innovation and research centers means an important investment in the future of their own business. For this reason, we cooperate with the best companies from various fields around the world, and we have already launched specific cooperation projects in the Czech Republic (e.g. with CTU). Part of our vision is a "combat laboratory", which would be a unique facility for all users of the IFV CV90. We would like to build a center for combat vehicles, which would be designed and built by Czech entities. The center for innovation of combat vehicles will become the center of future development of CV90 machines for the entire community of their users," describes Tommy Gustafsson-Rask. 

After all, BAE Systems is already cooperating with CTU on research in the cyber security of combat vehicles. BAE's vision is to transform this (paid) academic research into a completely practical security development using artificial intelligence, which will find application beyond just the BAE Systems combat vehicles. CTU and other cooperating Czech entities will be able to apply for new patents and expand their technical capabilities.

 Author: Martin Šiška