The Czech Ministry of Defense has set aside 1.5 billion korunas (€55,5 million) from its budget to purchase combat drones in the years 2023 to 2027. Currently, the army uses only reconnaissance drones.
While the army already has reconnaissance drones, combat drones could carry weapons and could be used for combat if necessary, Jan Pejšek, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told reporters on Wednesday at the 533rd Battalion of Unmanned Systems in Prostějov. The battle battalion and the honorary title of Major General in memoriam of Josef Duda was personally granted to the unit by President Miloš Zeman.
According to Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar, the battalion of unmanned systems fulfills the trends of the 21st century with its name and especially with its technology.
“Modern armies will be increasingly based on automated and information systems. I am glad that we are keeping up in this direction. In the years 2023 to 2027, we plan to expand the current reconnaissance equipment of the battalion with tactical multi-purpose drones that can carry weapons. Preliminarily, we have set aside up to 1.5 billion korunas (€55.5 million) for the purchase. We will do our best at the ministry to ensure that you have the best technology and equipment at your disposal,” the minister told the soldiers.
Reconnaissance drones are used mainly by soldiers in Afghanistan
According to Jan Pejšek, the army has had large reconnaissance American drones ScanEagle since 2015, which are used by soldiers mainly in Afghanistan. They have flown there for more than 3,600 flight hours. These drones have a range of over 100 kilometers and can remain in the air for over 20 hours at a time.
The army also currently has several smaller drones at its disposal, such as the Raven RQ-11B.
“In the future, we want to have not only reconnaissance drones, but also, like other armies, to have drones that, if necessary, could carry armaments, so they could also be used for combat,” said Pejšek.
A special Prostějov unit, which is in charge of unmanned aerial vehicles, was established in January this year. “The unit is being built, it should be completed in 2025 and at that time it should have about 300 soldiers,” added Pejšek.
Title image: Flight test pilot Alex Gustafson carries an Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aircraft in preparation for a flight in Arlington, Ore., Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)