VOP CZ is without director till now. Will it affect the future acquisition of new IFV?
The tender for new infantry fighting vehicles is accompanied with question-marks. The biggest modernization in modern history for the Czech Armed Forces requires involvement of many units, including state enterprises. The so-called integrator of this order, enterprise VOP CZ from Šenov, is without a director till now. The Ministry must announce the second round of the tender and it is not clear whether the office would be adequately occupied.
Czech cooperated companies in this most extensive arming project for more than 50 milliard CZK, with the participation of more than 40% of the total share and in co-operation with VOP CZ, completely rearmed the 7th Mechanized Brigade to the European standard of heavy type of military engineering. An extensive order requires quality leadership and top-class management. Nevertheless, Marek Špok, former director of VOP CZ, was dismissed by the Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar from his office, and till now it had not been possible to occupy it.
“One of the no-go parameters is that at least 40% from the acquisition price has to be created by the Czech production. The state enterprise VOP CZ (the addressed suppliers and the public were informed about its role) will be an integrator of involvement of Czech companies into production and an administrator of maintenance and logistic support of the vehicles during the entire time of their life cycle. The Ministry of Defence is the founder of VOP CZ, and its abilities in this respect have strategic meaning for the Czech Army. The enterprise, that is the highest guarantee of reliability for us, concentrates for a long time on the armoured hardware and its service, and maintains necessary human and technical capacities. It has unique experience in development, testing and production of the armoured military hardware,” said Minister Metnar in an open letter to Transparency International in reaction to a series of doubts which accompanies the tender and the current state of management of the state enterprise VOP CZ.
In June, Minister Metnar had to explain the current state to the deputies during a meeting of the Committee for Defence and Security. He said there were a series of reasons why he suddenly dismissed Marek Špok in the spring. And these were not only economic results, he added. “Bad communication with other suppliers and even between state enterprises. We couldn’t manage in this way,” said Metnar.
Let’s hope that the Defence department would be able to replace the former director of VOP CZ and also let’s hope that it can in no way affect the already ongoing tender. This tender is accompanied by a series of question-marks, especially delegation into the next round of all four companies, i.e. PSM, BAE, Rheinmetall and GDELS. What is surprising is especially the participation of German Puma because till now this company didn’t offer any crew gun turret, which is one of the so-called no-go parameters of the tender.