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Czech minister orders check of planned purchase of Israeli radars

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Prague, May 22 (CTK) – Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (for ANO) has asked the military police to check the case of planned purchase contract for Israeli MADR radars worth 3.5 billion crowns over “extremely serious findings,” she said in an interview with CTK on Tuesday.

Eight MADR 3D radars are to replace the outdated Soviet-made radars and enable the Czech military to control airspace at the altitude from 100 to 3,000 metres. The Defence Ministry has been preparing the contract for several years. It was to be signed last year, but eventually it was not. Former defence minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said this is a task for his successor to complete.

After Slechtova was appointed defence minister last December, she had all planned huge contracts checked. She said she is not sure whether the radars would be compatible with NATO’s systems.

A special commission comprising representatives of the ministry, the Czech cyber security office and the radar maker, the Israeli state company Elta Systems, is dealing with the case.

Slechtova said the Defence Ministry inspection body dealt with several big contracts over suspected mistakes or intrigues.

Mistakes have also been revealed in the marketing survey for the purchase of multipurpose helicopters worth up to 13 billion crowns, she said.

This case was handed to the military police as well as other cases, Slechtova said.

The Czech government might decide on how this tender would be declared in early summer, she added.

Slechtova said she would like to prepare several projects that may be started in case that some other contracts are postponed. She consulted three such projects worth 1.5 billion crowns with new Chief-of-Staff Ales Opata and they may be approved this year. This would prevent the situation where money from the defence ministry budget for the given year is not drawn, she said.

A large part of the contracts are postponed by at least two years, Slechtova said.

She expects that three to four billion crowns from the budget will not be spent this year either.

In 2017, the Defence Ministry failed to spend more than four billion crowns on its investments.

Slechtova said the ministry plans to make purchases worth approximately 95 billion crowns by 2021, including track fighting vehicles worth over 50 billion crowns.

The priorities are the gear for soldiers and modern vehicles.

Slechtova said the recent media campaign against her may be related to the problems concerning the big military contracts. “I perceive it as a campaign against myself. A lot of money is at stake at the Defence Ministry,” she told CTK.

Media reported that Slechtova spent state money on VIP services at the Prague airport and they released a photo of her dog sitting on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Prague.

Speculations appeared that Slechtova may not continue in the possible future government of the ANO movement and the Social Democratic Party (CSSD).

Slechtova said she did not talk to Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) about her work in the cabinet. If Babis is not interested in her services anymore, she would reconsider whether she wants to keep working in parliament.

She said she asked for a meeting with President Milos Zeman through his office head Vratislav Mynar. She said the meeting would be held at the end of May or in June.

Slechtova has had good relations with Zeman.

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