Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) – The Czech military will invest one billion crowns in drones by 2020 and buy combat drones after this date as well, while now it has unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance only, Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar told reporters after a meeting of the military command on Tuesday.
The Czech military will buy six new ScanEagle drones for some 200 million crowns in 2019. It has already been using these types of drones, which it received from the United States, in Afghanistan, Becvar added.
He also said the Czech involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq would increase next year when some 650 soldiers might be deployed there if parliament approved the mission.
Becvar also sharply criticised the considerable decrease in defence expenditures in the past.
Becvar called the preparation and training of professional soldiers and reserve troops and the maintenance and development of combat skills the priorities for next year, along with public events prepared within the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s establishment.
Some 2000 new soldiers are expected to join the military in 2018, he added.
This year, the miliary admitted more than 2170 newcomers, filling 83 percent of posts.
President Milos Zeman pointed out at the event that not only the rise in the number of soldiers was important but also the admission of talented personnel.
He reiterated that the Czech Republic should increase its defence spending to 2 percent of GDP as it had pledged when entering NATO in 1999.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said it was realistic to meet this goal in 2025. The draft defence budget for 2018 is almost 60 billion crowns, he added.
As usual, Zeman was lobbying for the purchase of modern drones at the military event.
The Czech military has already worked out a study on the implementation of unmanned aerial vehicles into its armament, Zeman said.
“According to the study, six ScanEagles will be bought soon,” he added.
The Czech army has also other smaller drones in its arsenal.
Zeman said drones should be included in the air force and not the ground forces as to date.
He also praised active reserve troops in his speech.