Czech Republic: Beginning the Defense Modernization Curve
(Source: Avascent; issued May 23, 2019)
Ahead of the International Defence and Security Technologies Fair taking place in Brno, Czech Republic, next week, this report analyzes the Czech Republic’s military modernization efforts threatened by the fragility of a governing coalition in a country which is struggling to meet NATO spending benchmarks.

NATO pressure to modernize outdated military inventory drives recapitalization of the Czech military, but domestic political outlook creates uncertainty.

The upcoming International Defence and Security Technologies Fair (IDET) in Brno takes place during a decisive period for the Czech Armed Forces. This year historic decisions will likely be made that will determine Czech military potential as well as the capabilities of its defense industry for the next several decades.

The Czech Armed Forces, similar to the militaries of the other Central European countries, have been equipped with Soviet-era weapons systems that must be replaced now by NATO-capable hardware. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made a few attempts to modernize its armed forces.

But all of them failed due to limited budget resources, discontinuity in the modernization planning process, and changes to the priorities and vision underlying the future structure of the Armed Forces.

The Czech Rep. has been a member of NATO since 1999 and agreed to spend 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense – and at least 20% of its defense budget on modernization. The actual Czech efforts have fallen well short of these benchmarks. For instance, the country spent 2% of GDP on defense for the last time in 2003. Since then the allocation has been gradually decreasing.

By 2014 it had fallen to below 1.0% of GDP on defense and just 6.5% of total defense budget on development and procurement of new systems. Consequently, the Czech military faces huge modernization needs across all branches of the armed forces. (…/…)

Conclusion

The MoD is on the verge of making procurement decisions that will determine the effectiveness and lethality of the Armed Forces for decades to come. The financial allocation for defense should support a more rapid modernisation process, but the fragility of a fractious governing coalition threatens to derail this ambitious agenda.

Czech defence officials therefore have a relatively narrow window to make the key procurement decisions while parliamentary support and funding is available. Sustaining the defence modernisation programme in the absence of domestic political unity will require an uncommon degree of will and dexterity by the Czech national leadership.

The remainder of 2019 will be a test of their seriousness and commitment to make military more capable and compatible as a NATO-member force.


Click here for the full report (7 PDF pages) on the Avascent website.

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