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LN: Czech military to buy pistols from Austria again

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Prague, Feb 24 (CTK) – The Czech Defence Ministry wants to buy hundreds of Austrian-made Glock 17 pistols for the military police and special forces despite its promises to support the domestic arms industry, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Wednesday.

“The purchase of the pistols, including cases, magazines and tactical lamps, will be subject to an open tender,” Petr Sykora, from the ministry’s press section, told LN.

The paper points out that the Czech military will not buy the Austrian pistols for the first time.

In 2009, the Defence Ministry headed by Martin Bartak bought 100 Glock 17s for 15 million crowns without a tender and was sharply criticised for the transaction. The ministry defended the contract, mediated by the MPI CZ firm linked to Bartak’s friend, arms dealer Michal Smrz, saying the military needed the semiautomatic arms urgently for foreign missions.

Both Bartak and Smrz were charged with corruption connected with military purchases, but they were acquitted eventually.

Now, the Defence Ministry demands 421 Glock pistols, LN writes.

Sykora said the expected price of the contract would not be released. However, according to LN sources, the ministry has set aside some eight million crowns for it.

Though the military is speaking about an open tender, it will be most probably another order for MPI since it represents the Glock Austrian firm on the Czech market, LN says.

It writes that the purchase of the Austrian arms is at variance with the priorities declared by Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) who has long claimed that he prefers buying arms in the Czech Republic.

The Czech arms maker Ceska zbrojovka produces CZ Phantom pistols that are comparable with Glocks, LN says.

“The Austrian Glock pistol is naturally our competitor. Thanks to its features, it is suitable for some very specific activities. On the other hand, our pistols are more user-friendly and have a better ergonomic grasp,” Radek Hauerland, from Ceska zbrojovka, said.

However, LN says, the Czech arms maker will not get a bad deal either since last year, the government approved the Defence Ministry’s plan to buy 5,500 VZ Phantom pistols for over 70 million crowns without a tender.

LN says the latest purchases also run counter to the Defence Ministry’s trend toward unifying the soldiers’ equipment as much as possible to simplify logistics and services. However, the ministry defends the use of Glocks.

“The Glock 17 pistols have long been used as personal weapons of the military police and special forces, and they have proved fully successful in their conditions,” Sykora said.

The military police have ordered Glocks not to change the training and manipulation habits. Besides, the pistols enable the carrying of a weapon in public in a concealed manner, Lenka Haberova, from the military police main command, told the paper.

In 2009, the ministry also defended the purchase of Glocks, saying the Austrian producer offered a five-year guarantee period and quite a long lifespan. Moreover, soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan praised the Austrian pistols, LN writes.

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