French Defense Minister Florence Parly plans to sign a $390-million contract on imports of 52 Caesar self-propelled howitzers to the Czech Republic during his official visit to Prague on Thursday, the country’s defense ministry said.
The pieces of artillery by the French company Nexter are planned to replace 48 self-propelled Dana howitzers in the Czech army’s fleet.
The first four howitzers will be produced in France, but all the others will be assembled by the Czech Czechoslovak Group holding. Based on the new armament, the Czech Republic will form a special artillery brigade, which the country promised NATO to create before 2026.
Initially, the cost of the howitzer batch was about $275 million, but starting 2021, Nexter raised the price by 60%, substantiating the decision with inflation and the raw material prices growth. However, the Czech state agency preferred the offer by the French manufacturer over the others.
The Dana howitzers were manufactured in the Slovakian city of Dubnica nad Vahom, but did not comply with NATO fire range and rate and projectile gauge standards. The firing range of Danas is about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) with a fire rate of four shots a minute, while Caesars’ fire range is 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) with six shots per minute.
On Tuesday, the Czech Republic and France announced a new 3-million-euro ($3.48-million) defense contract entailing the shipment of three French frigates to the other side. The contract is believed to partially compensate for the breach of the submarine deal with Australia, both financially and morally.
Earlier, defense minister Lubomir Metnar said the Czech Republic will buy Israeli-made SPYDER surface-to-air missile systems for $630 million to replace Soviet-era systems in its possession, on Monday.
“I appreciate the willingness of the Israeli government to share with us a state-of-the-art defense system that will move our military toward 21st-century capabilities. Finally, we will get rid of our dependence on Soviet Kub systems from the 1970s, which do not meet current requirements,” Metnar said, as quoted by his ministry.