The Czech Artillery needs a new fire control system and self-propelled howitzers
In the intervening twenty years, the Army of the Czech Republic sidetracked the development of the artillery, didn’t invest in the artillery and even excluded rocket launchers from the armament. The Czech Army changed its attitude because of the war in Ukraine. At present the Czech Army plans to invest about 40 million EUR in a new fire control system.
The 13th Artillery Regiment uses 152 mm self-propelled gun-howitzers DANA from ‘70s.Artillery batteries are also armed with ARTHUR artillery hunting radars a SNĚŽKA and LOS reconnaissance vehicle on the BVP-2 chassis, which are being modernized now. Beside of that, the Czech Army uses self-propelled mortars PRAM and mortars vz. 82. The RM-70 GRAD multiple rocket launchers was excluded in 2011 without replacement.
Video: The last volley from the RM70 multiple rocket launchers / YouTube
As is clear from this enumeration, the artillery armament comes from east, predominantly from ‘70s and ‘80s. The Czech Armed Forces speak for a long time that it is necessary to rearm to NATO 155 mm calibre and to increase the effective gun-range from twenty to fifty kilometres.
Home TATRA TRUCKS military truck factory has modernized ShKH 152 mm DANA, which were bought by Israeli Elbit armoury and resold to Azerbaijan, what invoked scandal. The Czech Army itself could acquaint the so-modernized howitzers for its reserves (Active Reserve), however at the beginning of 2018 it declared that it counts with complete rearmament of the artillery to the calibre of 155 mm. As one of the alternatives, howitzer Pzh 2000 are considered.
Rearmament of the artillery will be a gradual process, which probably will be delayed because of the deceleration of the economy growth. Because of that, the Czech Army will have to operate the east and west armament for the next ten of twenty years. Although the Czech Army says that it desisted from the “two calibres” conception, there is here a collision of daring plans and politico-economic reality.
The Army carried out marketing studies, where it evaluated, for example, the ODIN system of Norwegian Kongsberg armoury. Immediately hereafter, media brought alarming information that Omnipol Company, that doesn’t enjoy a good reputation due to its previous corruption scandals, is trying to promote this fire control system. Other outputs from this study are unknown to the public till now.
The Polish TOPAZ system is more and more frequently mentioned in specialized servers, because the Polish Army, similarly as the Czech Armed Forces, is gradually changing a calibre of 152 mm to the NATO 155 mm calibre; that’s why it needed a fire control system which would cope with a wide variety of artillery equipment. This system, which among others includes pilotless aviation assets, earned admiration of American artillerymen who familiarized with it during a common exercising.
The Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, however, informed some time ago that it doesn’t speculate about this system as well. The Ministry's rationale for it was that it doesn’t know the system upgrade to the C4ISTAr4 architecture and certification of the ASCA Committee (an international project, the aim of which is to enable implementation of common fire tasks across the member states of NATO).
Unfortunately, it appears that the Czech Army can cause a similar problem by modernization of the artillery as in the case of the purchase of armoured fighting vehicles. It doesn’t communicate by that time, so the public awareness is formed by discussions of journalists and external experts. As far as the Army management issues the final specification for the purchase of a fire control system and consequently of self-propelled howitzers, it will face up to more questions and reminders than now.