Former Chief of General Staff says government needs to speed up preparation for new tender on fighter planes


The Czech Republic has five years left on its lease of 14 Gripen fighter jets from the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems-SAAB, but already, say some observers, the government should be thinking about next steps: a tender preparing the ground for the Czech Republic to either buy the existing planes or to opt for new fighter jets.

A little earlier Jan Velinger spoke to General Jiří Šedivý, the former head of the General Staff, who has called on the government to begin coordinating the new tender.

“I think if we wait for the next election next Spring we will have approximately four years for a new tender and the introduction of new planes and that going slow would put BAE-SAAB at an unfair advantage over other bidders. I think it’s a pretty short time for all activities for all activities related to the tender. The Czech Republic has to start these procedures very soon.”

The media is already reporting that there will be a ‘clash’ between big producers in that tender: will BAE-SAAB be at an advantage simply because of initial training and investment?

“Of course. Not just the pilots but also the commanders and also logistics are now very well trained for support in the case of the Gripens. This training is already paid for, so in case a new firm won the tender, this would have to be paid again. Training, schooling, and so will give the current firm some advantage over say Lockheed-Martin or Eurofighter and others.

It has been reported that US Vice President Joe Biden is planning to visit the Czech Republic and that new planes may be one of the items on the agenda. Do you think that - if the trip is confirmed – this could be one possibility?

“If the US vice president does come to the Czech Republic I’m not sure he’ll bring a concrete proposal. Maybe it could be a side ‘effect’ of his trip. But as we know there has been no confirmation on his visit yet and for now those reports only speculative.”