Czech Air Force Modernization
In 1993, MiG-29 supersonic fighter aircraft were decommissioned from the inventory of the Czech Armed Forces. In Czech Air Force MiG 29 was the most advanced interceptor aircraft of Russian manufacture. His service began in 1989 and ended when at the end of 1995, all 10 MiG-29 were exchanged with Poland for 11 Sokol helicopters.
In 1995, the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic Parliament resolved upon modernizing the MiG-21 aircraft being ineffective. In 1997, the Government decided in favour of supersonic aircraft acquisition and endorsed to procure 72 of the L-159 subsonic aircraft. In 1999, Concept on the Development of the MoD Department, including procurement of supersonic aircraft, was approved by the Government. In the same year, MiG-23 and Su-25 aircraft were decommissioned from the inventory of the Czech Armed Forces.
In 2000, public bidding process began in order to select supersonic aircraft supplier. The government decided to initiate contractual negotiation with BAE/SAAB. Furthermore, the Su-22 aircraft were decommissioned and the L-159 aircraft introduced in this year. In May 2002, draft agreement on the procurement of 24 Gripen tactical supersonic aircraft was submitted. The draft agreement was approved by the Government. With that, the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic rejected the draft bill on the aircraft’s procurement financing.
The issue of Czech Republic's air space protection was resolved by a decision to acquire new supersonic JAS-39 Gripen aircraft. The Air Force’s fleet of MiG-21 supersonic aircraft reached the end of their airframe life-spans in 2005, though the need to continue to provide for the nation's air space protection with its own assets and to preserve the skills of its flying and support personnel continued. Czech government resolution No. 686 of 9 July 2003 was the crucial conceptual document for the Czech Air Force and its acquisition of new supersonic aircraft. Pursuant to this resolution, the Minister of Defence was tasked to request feasibility studies at the governments of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, and the USA, and to evaluate the studies before 30 November 2003.
The Government of the Czech Republic, during its session on 9 June 2004, endorsed a ten-year lease of 14 pieces of JAS-39 Gripen aircraft to be introduced into service with the Air Force of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. Pursuant to executive decision, relevant agreements will be entered into with the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden. Tender specifications were very demanding. Some of the original bidding countries withdrew on the grounds of not being able to meet the tender specifications. The bid of the Kingdom of Sweden, which offered to lease JAS-39 Gripen aircraft for a ten-year period, met all the criteria specified. In the course of negotiations, the Czech party managed to achieve terms even more favourable than those specified.
The Czech Republic was identified by Lockheed Martin officials as one of the possible buyers in presentations to industry in 2007. Also in a document produced for the Dutch Parliament (Basis Document, 2001) a possible requirement of 24-36 Czech planes to replace the old Su-22 and MiG-21 had been mentioned. However, this was commercial wishful thinking. The Czech Republic cannot be considered as a JSF opportunity after the successful introduction of the Saab Gripen.
The Czech military leased 14 supersonic JAS-39 Gripen fighters made by the BAE Systems-SAAB consortium, from the Swedish government. With that contract due to expire in 2015, speculation mounted about whether that leasing agreement will be renewed or another type of fighter plane chosen.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) had shown little enthusiasm for extending the Gripen leasing deal. He warned in June 2011 that it would be difficult to imagine renewing the contract when the investigation into alleged massive corruption relating to the original deal [to buy 24 JAS-39 fighters over several years] had yet to be concluded. That deal was rejected by the Czech parliament in 2003 in favor of a plan that eventually led to the leasing option (at a cost of Kc 20 billion, one-third what it would have cost to buy the planes. Necas would like to see US fighter planes in the frame. As well as the F-16 and F-18, the other fighter mentioned in the past by the Defense Ministry as possible contender to patrol the Czech skies is the Rafale produced by French arms company Dassault.
In January 2012 it was reported that the Czech Republic and several other Eastern European countries had expressed interest in buying “almost new” Eurofighters from Germany. Berlin was said to be looking to offload eight planes, which, if new, would cost some €60 million to €80 million each (including ancillary services). Bulgaria was interested in the purchase of eight Eurofighters now in the Luftwaffe.
In 2014 the Government approved the extension of the JAS-39 Gripen lease until 2027, with a two-year option. Prague will pay 1.7 billion crowns for the leased Gripens a year. The Defence Ministry aimed to provide the JAS-39 Gripen planes with the ´Air-to-Ground´ capacities, i.e. their capability of attacking ground targets. All of the Czech air force´s Gripens should receive the new equipment by 2018.
By early 2016 the Czech Republic was considering a joint squadron of Saab Gripen fighters with Hungary, after the initial plan to operate such a squadron with Slovakia was postponed. Slovakia had planned on leasing the Swedish fighter, but then decided to extend the service life of the Russian-made Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft. The Czechs looked elsewhere to boost regional defense cooperation, which may result in their combining their 14 leased Gripens with the Hungarians 12 operable ones.
The first new transport aircraft AIRBUS A-319 Corporate Jetliner landed at its future home airport at Prague - Kbely on 30th January 2007. The delivery of the first AIRBUS A-319CJ, tail number 2801, starts the renewal of Czech Air Force fleet of transport aircraft. The flight from the manufacturer's airport of Airbus S.A.S. in Hamburg, Germany, lasted 57 minutes. The Airbus A-319 type belongs to a group of transport aircraft with short and medium flight range. With passangers, it began to fly in 1996. The Airbus A-319CJ (Corporate Jetliner) type is an updated variant, which has been produced since 2000. It is can be classified into the so-called „Business Centre“ category of aircraft.
The Tu-154 transport aircraft was a Russian three-engine jet transport aircraft having the NATO code of “CARELESS”. It is designed for medium-range flights. The first prototype of this aircraft aimed at replacing Tu-104, Il-18, and An-40 made its first flight on 4 October 1968. The aircraft are no longer operational with the Czech Air Force. They were replaced by two AIRBUS 319CJ aircraft in 2007.
In April 2009 a decision-making body of the Ministry of Defence approved a plan to buy three Spanish EADS CASA-295M tactical transport aircraft and exchange another one for five L-159 combat aircraft. The acquisition project includes logistic support and training of both flying and ground personnel within the Czech military. The proposal is to be submitted to the Czech government these days. In case of an affirmative decision, the contract was fulfilled in years 2009–2011. The new aircraft replaced Russian-made An-26 transport aircraft, which were close to the end of their lifetime.
In its program to modernise its fleet of helicopters, the Czech military decided to procure upgraded versions of Russian machines, taking advantage of a Russian-Czech agreement associated with the settlement of outstanding debts of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Pursuant to the deal, the Czech Armed Forces received 16 helicopters of the Mi-171Š variant and 17 pieces of Mi-35/24Vs. Deliveries of the Mi-171Š were terminated at the end of 2005, while the last delivery of the Mi-35/24V was in January 2006. The procurement of these helicopters facilitated a complete rearmament of Czech helicopter aviation, with an expected service life of at least twenty years, that is, through 2025. During 2006 – 2008, the Mi-171Š were equipped with NATO minimum-level standard avionics; similar upgrades were made for the Mi-35/24V. The program has been undertaken in order to meet NATO interoperability and compatibility standards.
The US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Czech Republic for UH-1Y utility helicopters. The estimated cost is $575 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on October 11, 2017.
The Government of the Czech Republic has requested the possible sale of twelve (12) UH-1Y utility helicopters, twenty-five (25) T-700 GE 401C engines (twenty-four (24) installed, one (1) spare), thirteen (13) Honeywell Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) (twelve (12) installed, one (1) spare), and twelve (12) 7.62mm M240 Machine Guns.
This request also includes Brite Star II FLIR system, Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) (includes the AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning and Laser Detection System, AN/ALE-47 Counter Measure Dispensing System (CMDS) and the AN/APR-39 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)), Joint Mission Planning Systems, Helmet Mounted Displays, communication equipment, small caliber gun systems including GAU-17A and GAU-21, electronic warfare systems, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Mode 4/5 transponder, support equipment, spare engine containers, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.
This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO partner that is an important force for ensuring peace and stability in Europe. The proposed sale will support the Czech Republic’s needs for its own self-defense and support NATO defense goals.
The Czech Republic intends to use these helicopters to modernize its armed forces and strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. This will contribute to the Czech Republic’s military goal of updating its capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other NATO allies. The Czech Republic will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.
The acquisition of a new generation of anti-aircraft missile system capable of countering the current means of possible air attack is a key strategic project for the defense of the state and one of the main priorities of the ongoing modernization of the Czech military. The new system in the army's armament will replace the almost 40-year-old anti-aircraft set 2K12 KUB still made in the Soviet Union, which the Czech military keeps in operation only thanks to the skill of the technicians.
The 2K12-KUB short-range missile complexes, codenamed NATO SA-6 Gainful, are capable of destroying aircraft, helicopters and missiles with a flat flight path at low and medium altitudes - from 25 meters to 10 kilometers. The effective range is then up to 23 kilometers. Four batteries were acquired by the Czechoslovak army in the mid-1980s, as were other states of the former Warsaw Pact. And the only upgrade during the entire service period was the transition from analog to digital control.
In a meeting on 17 December 2018, Minister Lubomir Metnar apprised the Czech Government of upcoming defence acquisition public tender plans for the Czech Armed Forces.
- Mobile medium air defence radars - Minister Metnar also informed the Government that the Ministry of Defence would buy eight medium air defence mobile radars (MADR) from Israel. Due to the recent speculations and doubts surrounding the original public tender, Minister Metnar cancelled the invitation to tender and instead will directly approach the Israeli Government. The contract will be signed by mid-2019, and the first radar will be operational in the Czech Republic within 22 months. The estimated cost of the order is CZK 2.9 billion (excl. of VAT).
- RBS-70NG contract - On 18 December 2018, SAAB Dynamics AB, represented by Mr Kristian Wallin, signed a contract to deliver 16 RBS-70NG air defence missile systems to the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment in Strakonice. The contract was countersigned by Daniel Kostoval, Deputy Minister of Defence for Armaments and Acquisitions, and Major General Jaromir Zuna, Director of the Support Division of the MoD. The total cost will be over CZK 949 million (excl. of VAT), and the systems will be delivered between 2020 and 2021.
The military carefully assessed a total of nine modern anti-aircraft missile systems from seven manufacturers. These included the German concern Diehl offered the IRIS-T system, the American giant Lockheed Martin and the multinational MBDA system MEADS, the Israeli Rafael system SPYDER-MR and also the Norwegian-American consortium Konsberg-Raytheon the system NASAMS.
The Czech Ministry of Defense Informed the Israel Ministry of Defense 25 September 2020 of its Decision to equip its military with an Israeli Air Defense System Produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Following an international tender process, which lasted several years, the Czech Ministry of Defense informed the Directorate of International Defense Cooperation (SIBAT) in the Israel Ministry of Defense, of its decision to equip its military with Israeli air defense systems. The Czech military said it had analyzed nine systems from seven producers before deciding on the Israeli one.
The Czech government approved the launch of procurement negotiations for four Israeli "SPYDER" batteries, within the framework of a GTG agreement between the two countries. Israel was selected as the sole supplier for the project and the expected agreement between the countries' defense ministries is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Defense Minister, Benny Gantz: "We thank the Czech government for their partnership and for the decision to equip their military with Israeli air defense systems. This is another significant step in strengthening security relations between our two countries, and it is also great news for Israeli defense industries during such a complex period."
Ariel Karo, EVP marketing and business development at Rafael: "We are very proud to have been selected to provide SPYDER systems to the Czech Republic through a GTG process. The decision to select SPYDER, developed and produced by Rafael, is a significant vote of confidence in our proven air defense capabilities demonstrated over the years through a variety of solutions that span from Iron Dome, David's Sling, and the SPYDER air defense system, in service and combat-proven in different countries around the world."
SPYDER (Surface-to-Air Python & Derby), is a quick reaction, low- to-high surface-to-air missile system designed to counter attacks by a variety of aerial threats including aircraft, helicopters and UAVs. The system provides effective protection of valuable assets, as well as first-class defense for maneuvering forces located in combat areas. The SPYDER system includes a radar system produced by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Rafael designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of high-tech defense systems for air, land, sea and space applications.
The Czech defense ministry expects the deal to be worth some 10 billion CZK ($430 million) and to be finalized early in 2021 and to be finalized early in 2021, with the delivery coming two years later. It would replace an obsolete anti-aircraft Soviet-era 2K12 KUB systemt, which is more than 40 years old, to defend military and civilian centers such as industrial hubs, nuclear power plants, airports and other important facilities.
It is a matter of course to equip the new system with data and communication systems, connectivity to another defense architecture, high resistance to interference and ballistic protection according to NATO standards. The condition is then a strong involvement of the domestic defense industry in the contract. The share for Czech companies should be at least 30 percent.
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