Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Czech-Israeli arms deal not to be signed before election

ČTK |
13 October 2017

Prague, Oct 12 (CTK) - The contract for the delivery of Israeli MADR radar systems for three billion crowns for the Czech military is finished, but it will not be signed before the forthcoming October 20-21 election, daily Pravo writes on Thursday.

The firm Retia, based in Pardubice, east Bohemia, will cooperate on the contract.

The new 3D MADR radar systems are to replace the obsolete, Soviet-made equipment. Thanks to them, the military will be able to control the air situation in the altitudes between 100 and 3000 metres.

In cooperation with the planned replacement of the anti-aircraft missile complex 2K12 KUB, it will ensure an active anti-aircraft defence.

The bid includes the logistics support for a 20-year lifespan.

The radar is to be delivered by the Israeli state-run Elta Systems company which manufactures the Iron Dome system.

It is able to intercept a missile attack and to evaluate where the engine may fall. If need be, it can shoot it down.

Elta offered the radar ELM 2084 MMR (Multi-Mission-Radar) to the Czech military which makes a part of the system.

The talks on the contract conducted by the Defence Ministry lasted almost one year, Pravo writes.

However, it will not be signed before the election because Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) has called a meeting of its committee that is to give the definitive go-ahead to the deal for only one week after the election.

"The MADR contract is all but completed by both sides. All that is needed is to finish the internal approval process and within weeks, everything will be prepared for the signing," Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek told the paper.

However, there is the question of whether Stropnicky will really sign it because there is the unwritten rule that outgoing governments do not sign any vital decisions and document, Pravo warns.

Members of the Chamber of Deputies defence and security affairs committee have asked Stropnicky to leave the affair for the next government if he were unable to finish it before the election, it adds.

Jiri Skalicky, a deputy for the opposition TOP 09, said Stropicky had been unable to finish a single strategic deal during his term of office.

"The contract was already being drafted under the Necas government [2010-2013] and it was well prepared. Throughout its term, this government was unable to finish it," Skalicky said.

"So the signing after the election is absolute rubbish," he added.

Social Democrat (CSSD) Antonin Seda questioned the deal itself.

"There was no regular tender and the Swedish bid with the most advantageous offer of price was eventually rejected," Seda said.

He alluded to the Swedish Saab having offered its eight Giraffe G4A systems for the same price, but its servicing was to be 600 million crowns cheaper.

The Defence Ministry dismissed the Swedish offer because Saab had not fulfilled the Czech demand that the radars be sold by the Swedish government.

It also argued that the Swedish system had never been used in action.

At first, the contract was to be signed in April or May. Stropnicky said this had been complicated by tough talks with Israelis, Pravo writes.

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