The Russian invasion has fundamentally changed plans for equipping the Czech army. In response to developments in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense is now accelerating the purchase of new weapons, including heavy equipment, and investments in the army are likely to be record-breaking in the coming years.
The army will purchase, among other things, a larger number of U.S. Venom and Viper helicopters and new armor. According to military analyst Lukáš Visinger, the current army equipment is outdated. In the case of an attack, the curent Czech army would only be able to protect Czechia for a few weeks at most, he noted.
The Ministry of Defense has already received 1 billion korunas (€40.9 million) more from the budget for this year than expected before the invasion. The money will be used to buy assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols, and grenade launchers. However, this is only expected to be the beginnig, with extensive arms investments aexpected soon.
Minister of Defense Jana Černochová has repeatedly said that the Czech Republic must also buy more combat helicopters. So far, only four Viper combat helicopters and eight multi-purpose Venoms from the U.S. Bell company are in production for the Czech army. The ministry is already negotiating an increase in orders.
Negotiations are also underway to resume the suspended tender for 210 modern infantry fighting vehicles. The army now operates only a hundred of these vehicles, which are outdated, as they were made in Czechoslovakia. Three companies have already applied for the tender. However, the Ministry of Defense, led by former minister Lubomír Metnar, did not select any. The purchase of new tanks and armored personnel carriers is also under negotiation.
At the same time, the ministry is already planning investments in the near future. The minister of defense wants to resolve the issue of supersonic fighters later this year. Czechia has the current 14 Gripen fighters leased only until 2027, with the provision that it has the right to buy them. The army’s conceptual documents also state that the Czech military should soon start looking to purchase military drones.
Czechia has to decide on the purchase of fighter jets
According to military and security analyst Lukáš Visinger, it is necessary to solve the situation by building a so-called all-military army, which would eventually be able to secure the territorial defense of the Czech Republic for several months. According to Visinger, a narrowly specialized army does not make sense, not even within NATO.
“We should build an army that will be able to independently defend the territory of the Czech Republic for some relevant period. Today, we can talk about a maximum of weeks. In the future, it should be about months. That is the target,” noted Visinger, as he warned about how unprepared Czechia is to defend itself.
According to Visinger, the Gripen aircraft will soon also be insufficient.
“We need to make this clear by 2025 at the latest. We either continue to use Gripen, but in an upgraded version as the current ones will no longer be enough, or we purchase the U.S. F-35 fighters. There is now talk that we could join the nuclear sharing system, as Poland plans. If we decide we wanted to do this, the F-35 would be an obvious choice,” he explained.