It’s been nearly five years since the Czech Republic pledged to raise its defense budget to 2% of GDP by 2024 at the NATO summit in Wales.
However, defense spending has so far increased by just over a quarter of a percentage point since the pledge was made, currently at 1.19% according to official MoD data.
With the army in need of modernization and pressure to increase spending as a member of NATO, many new equipment contracts are signed.
On Wednesday, the Department of Defense held talks with four companies that are in the running for what available data suggests will be the military’s biggest purchase yet.
More than CZK 50 billion is expected to be spent on 210 new infantry fighting vehicles in seven different modifications, which will replace aging Soviet-era BVP-2s.
The tender is exempt from the country’s public procurement law, but Deputy Minister Filip Říha, who heads the ministry’s Armaments and Procurement Division, said clear rules will be set.
“We must establish clear procedural steps that will delineate how potential suppliers will compete, in order to uphold the principles of non-discrimination, equal access and opportunity.”
One of the conditions set by the ministry stipulates that the future supplier will work with Czech companies.
The four potential suppliers have already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nový Jičín-based military engineering company VOP, which is currently operating at a loss of tens of millions of crowns and needs new commissions.
The infantry fighting vehicle contract was originally expected to be signed by the end of 2018, but partly due to a delay in selecting the law firm that will oversee the tender, it was delayed. Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar told Czech radio what the new timetable is.
“We expect the offers to arrive by the end of June, after which there will be a multi-round selection procedure from which we will select the winner. We would like to sign the contract at the beginning of or during September. »
If all goes according to plan, the military hopes the first of the new infantry vehicles will start arriving in 2021.
The ministry also plans to purchase 60 new Titus armored vehicles in April as well as thousands of new assault rifles and pistols. In addition, 52 new self-propelled artillery pieces are expected to replace aging models under a contract worth CZK 5 billion.