Thursday, 21 September 2017

Defence Ministry aims to invest 180 billion crowns in military equipment over next decade

ČTK |
24 January 2017

Prague, Jan 23 (CTK) - The Czech Defence Ministry plans to invest 180 billion crowns in the next 10 years and most of the investment, 130 billion, will go to the development of ground forces, the leading representatives of the ministry and the Czech army told journalists yesterday.
Military contracts worth 26 billion crowns are to be submitted to the government for approval this year, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said.
Deputy Defence Minister Daniel Kostoval said the contracts on the purchase of 62 Pandur and Titus armoured carriers and dozens of lightweight armoured vehicles for chemical and radiation reconnaissance, and on the upgrading of 33 Dana howitzers could be signed this year.
The purchases of 12 multipurpose helicopters, mobile radars and 5500 bullet-proof vests are being planned as well, Kostoval said.
A new contract for servicing of Mi- helicopters has been sought, too.
Contracts for new ground combat vehicles, new cannons compatible with NATO ammunition and the SHORAD anti-aircraft weapons may be signed next year, Kostoval said.
The Defence Ministry has been criticised for a slow pace of the modernisation of the army. Stropnicky previously dismissed the criticism and said the modernisation needs to be thoroughly prepared to avoid ill-considered purchases.
He said yesterday key contracts worth 42 billion crowns were signed in the past three years in which he was minister.
Nearly half of the sum covered the extended lease of Gripen fighters (20.4 billion crowns). The other big contracts concerned the purchases of ammunition worth 5.2 billion crowns, of Bren assault rifles, Phantom pistols and four airport radars.
Stropnicky said he has not given up the goal of annually investing at least 1.4 percent of GDP in defence. This goal, on which the present coalition government agreed, still can be achieved, he said.
This figure equals to nearly 76 billion crowns, while the 2017 defence budget is 52.5 billion crowns.
According to the plan, 57.8 billion is to be spent on defence in 2018 and 62.7 billion in 2019. Stropnicky said he believes he can convince the Finance Ministry to increase the spending to 59.6 and 68 billion in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
($1=25.414 crowns)

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