Although the future of the US radar base in Brdy is uncertain, the United States has earmarked the first sum of money in exchange for the radar.

Czech scientist will get some CZK 12 million from the Pentagon by the end of the year, a sum that is meant to be part of the radar “compensation”.

The Czech Technical University in Prague signed the first bilateral agreement with the US on Tuesday. The school will get some CZK 5 million for developing special software.

“We know how to make three-dimensional models from standard photographs. More laboratories develop the same kind of technology, but our research is one of the best in the world,” ČVUT professor Václav Hlaváč said.

The Americans can use Czech know-how, for example, in the military industry during their collaboration with Czechs which is to last one year.

The Czech scientists are hoping this collaboration will bring them closer to the top US research centres. “We offer methods we have improved, and expect to learn something new in exchange. Moreover, we’re getting money for making our technologies better,” said Hlaváč.

ČVUT’s research is not the only place getting paid by Pentagon this year. Almost CZK 2 million will go to the Turnov-based firm Crytur for using x-ray technologies.

The Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics will get another CZK 5 million. The institute will develop radar technologies in cooperation with the US firm Kyma. “The US firm produces special materials. We’re going to explore their characteristics and report the results to Kyma. We have experts and laboratories prepared for the project,” said Eduard Hulicius of the Institute of Physics, which is to sign the contract in mid-December.

Materials known as nitrides are used for military transmitters, for example. They only cover the area of 300 metres but, unlike mobile phones, they can not be wiretapped.

“We’re hoping to get in touch with the most advanced US technologies and receive contacts during the cooperation. More projects are scheduled to receive funding regardless of the radar’s existence. The Americans like our research,” said ČVUT profesor Vladimír Mařík, who produced a list of Czech research centres, from which the USA has selected projects it found more promising.

The Pentagon wants to support centres for nanomaterial research, robotics and medicine.

The Czech government approved the stationing of the US radar on Czech soil but, the radar construction has yet to be approved by Parliament. The ODS is pushing for the radar to go ahead, while the ČSSD wants to postpone the debate. The Senate is to discuss the radar agreements in December.

Private firms as well as universities and the Academy of Sciences research centres will collaborate on the research. “In the beginning, the Americans were offering money as compensation for the radar, while now they want the Czech Republic to be their partner in research,” says Mařík. He thinks the Czechs could fight terrorism even without the radar, using their scientific knowledge.

The Czech-US cooperation seems to be getting ahead when it comes to research, but it seems to be stuck as far as radar goes. Even the government, which always promoted the radar and the fast ratification of the agreements, is now reportedly waiting for US President-elect Barack Obama to decide on the issue. Obama is waiting to find out if the anti-missile defence system is fully functioning. That’s what the departing head of the Missile Defense Agency, Henry Obering, confirmed in Prague recently.

The Chamber of Deputies is expected to hold the first reading on the radar agreements still this year, while the final round has been scheduled by the government for the spring. It may be that radar supporters are looking for the 101st vote or waiting if the Social Democrats decide to support the base.

Although the ČSSD has sent the issue to the Constitutional Court, party chairman Jiří Paroubek did not rule out the possibly of a change in the party’s negative stance.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.