The Purchase of New Off-Road Passenger Vehicles for the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic Speeds up
The Czech Army still uses hundreds of light-duty vehicles which service life comes to an end. This is particularly the case of the UAZ and Land Rover Defender vehicles that have been in service for decades. The Army will have to decide how to replace them soon.
In spite of the fact that the purchase of new vehicles should be carried out only in 2023, the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic newly enforced the acquisition of up to 1,200 vehicles worth 1.6 billion korunas at the Ministry of Defence a few years earlier and want to conduct the selection procedure this year, with the first delivery of vehicles taking place in autumn 2020. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Finance is reluctant to allow this to the Ministry of Defence, as the original proposal of the selection procedure was established for the year 2023. Ever since, negotiations with representatives of the Ministry of Finance were held, and according to the spokesman of the Ministry of Defence, Jan Pejsek, further procedures were agreed to ensure the approval of the registration sheet, which is the condition of the start of the whole acquisition.
The Czech Army has about 1500 of off-road vehicles of the weight between two and four tons. This applies primarily to the UAZ vehicles. There are more than 600 of them, and there are more than 700 of Land Rover Defender vehicles of different versions. Originally, the Soviet UAZ vehicles were introduced to the Czechoslovak Army in 1974. Those, which are a part of the armament nowadays, have a date of production that goes back to the 1980s. The Land Rover Defender vehicles were supplied to the Army in the mid-1990s, and, despite the initial plans, they have not replaced the Soviet UAZ vehicles completely.
Moreover, their production was terminated, so the Czech Army has no other choice than searching for a new type that will replace not only the outgoing vehicles, but will also guarantee continuous and lasting production in the future, including the necessary service support.
Toyota definitely belongs among the front-runners of the tender for the purchase of new off-road passenger vehicles. In terms of experience and popularity, only few vehicles can enjoy a good reputation as the British Land Rover. This small group certainly includes the Japanese Toyota Land Cruiser, which production already began in 1951, and, along with a smaller, related type Toyota Hilux now rank among the absolute top in their category. By the end of 2018, approximately 6.5 million pieces were delivered, and not an insignificant part is used in the armed forces, including the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, which uses the Toyota Land Cruiser 100, 120, 150, 200 and RC15 series models.
The vehicles of the series Toyota Land Cruiser 70 are being offered to the Czech Army by the company Autosalon Dajbych, which portfolio allows to replace all used modifications of the Land Rover Defender, including those for airborne and special forces. The vehicles that have been named ‘Cheetah’ were mainly designed for them. Compared to common conventional serial forms, they are characterized by extensive changes. The lighter version is called ‘Cheetah’ RDV (Rapid Deployment Vehicle) and should replace the Land Rover Defender 110 SOV vehicles (i.e. the ‘Cowboys’).
It does not have ballistic protection, so the weight does not exceed 3.5 tons. Therefore, the driving license B is sufficient for driving. The heavier model of the ‘Cheetah’ LRPV (Long Range Patrol Vehicle) represents a replacement for the Land Rover Defender 130 Cayman vehicle. Accordingly, it has higher load capacity and ballistic protection.
The Mercedes-Benz G. (Geländewagen) vehicle belongs among other front-runners. Fundamentally, it came into being as a German response to the British Land Rover. It was designed with respect to the military use from the beginning and its production started in 1979. Nowadays, a range of modernised civilian versions is being offered. However, the design has not changed much for military customers.
The vehicle, which originally comes from the SVOS Company and bears the name S80, is another candidate. However, its design does not originate in the Czech Republic. The reason is that the Czech manufacturer established cooperation with the Chinese automobile factory BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation) and took over the construction of its vehicle BJ80.
The tender of new off-road vehicles for the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic also covers a famous American Jeep vehicle, i.e. Jeep J8. The design is based on the popular type of Jeep Wrangler, which is, in contrast, designed for military customers from the beginning. It was introduced in 2007 for the first time, and, except the U.S.A., it is also manufactured in Egypt and Israel under the license. The resemblance with the Jewish state bears the specification ALL Storm III and represents the basic light-duty tactical vehicle of the Israeli Army, which represents an excellent reference itself.
Moreover, the Jeep J8 is a part of the armament of some Latin American states (e.g. Peru or Guatemala). The Jeep J8 vehicle is offered to the Czech Army by the STV Group. It is likely that this vehicle could meet the vast majority of requirements. However, in terms of Special Forces, a higher load-bearing capacity variant is missing.