On 18 November at DEFENSE & SECURITY 2019 in Bangkok, representatives from the Czech Ministry of Defence (with the Minister Lubomir Metnar present at the show for the first time at this level), the Defence and Security Industry Association (DSIA) and individual companies combined to present their capabilities in a ‘Czech Defence Industry Day.‘

The Czech Republic has been the fastest-growing defence export market during the last five years. Over 20 Czech companies are exhibiting in Bangkok, highlighting the fact that 95% of the country's defence and security-related production is exported, with small arms, ammunition and aircraft featuring among the most sought-after products. Asia is actually one of the most important territories for Czech defence exports, second only to the EU/NATO market.

The leading state-owned entities include VOP CZ and LOM Praha, focusing on pilot and maintenance crew training. The CLV flight training centre provides training not just for legacy Soviet-era platforms such as the Mi-17 and L-39, but also for the current generation, including tactical simulation training. The training of Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) F-16A/B and F-5E/T fighter pilots has been going on for five years now and its extension to the JAS-39 GRIPEN C/D aircraft is currently beeing negotiated.

One of the best known and recognizable Czech companies is CZ, with 1,800 employees, ranking as a global in small arms manufacturing and exporter to 90 countries around the world. Another traditional provider is Sellier & Bellot, manufacturing an extensive range of small arms ammunition for various 5.56 and 7.62mm calibres, including specialised sniper ammunition. The company exports its products into 75 countries and has a turnover of $200 million (€180 million).

Aero Vodochody has among its current customers the RTAF, with its venerable L-39ZA/MP ALBATROS trainer and light combat aircraft. The company with its partners, including Omnipol, is offering its new L-39NG (New Generation) advanced trainer, which was unveiled in 2018, to replace it. A related Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed last summer. Omnipol's two subsidiaries, ERA and Mesit Defence, traditionally focus on unique passive surveillance systems based on indigenous technology, now represented by a new-generation VERA NG.

The Czechoslovak Group (CSG) holding company consists of 85 companies with over 10,000 employees, located both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Tatra Trucks is the third oldest global car manufacturer and its products are based on a unique chassis from 4x4 to 12x12 configurations. The company signed an MoU with the local state-owned enterprise DTI and TEC regarding joint manufacture of its vehicles at DEFENSE & SECURITY 2019, to include related technology transfer. Excalibur Army (EA) currently produces the PATRIOT II mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) 4x4 armoured vehicle, conforming to Stanag 459 Levels 2–4 protection. It has also developed a production partnership with the General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) PANDUR II 8x8 AFV. Its portfolio now includes modernised DANA II 152mm/155mm mobile howitzer systems, RM-70 VAMPIRE and BM-21 mobile rocket launchers, TREVA-15 reckovery vehicle and, most recently, AM-50 and AM-70 mobile vehicle-launched bridge systems, the latter currently under development.

Tomás Chlebecek

CZ is one of the Czech Republic’s most recognised defence and security industry exporters. (Photo: Mönch/Tomás Chlebecek)

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