Miroslav Liškutín, one of the last Czechoslovak fighter pilots who served with the British RAF during WWII, died in Great Britain on Monday at the age of 98. Last year, the veteran pilot was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by the Czech head of state. The head of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, General Jiří Bečvář, had praise for the hero and his contribution during the war.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová, who is attending the security
conference in Munich, pledged to increase the defence spending budget to
2.0 percent of the country’s GDP by the year 2024. She made the statement
to the Czech News Agency on Saturday. Šlechtová said it would be quite
outrageous if the Czech Republic failed to fulfil the target which NATO
partners agreed on.
Czech defence spending last year stood at around 1.1 percent of the country’s GDP and according to some experts, it is unlikely to meet the 2.0 percent commitment by 2020.
The Defense Ministry wants to modernize the Czech military’s artillery,
news site Euro.cz wrote on Monday citing outgoing Defense Minister Karla
Šlechtová. The previous government approved a deal last year worth 1.27
billion crowns not including VAT for roughly 33 DANA self-propelled
The contract was intended to have gone to Tatra Trucks but it was never signed. The outgoing defense minister said that the DANA system did not meet standard requirements set by NATO and the deal was rejected.
The ministry is to discuss the modernization of its artillery pieces with the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces this week.
Although Czech soldiers are currently serving in foreign missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Sinai Peninsula, their service and daily lives far from home remain veiled in mystery for most Czechs. A book entitled The Other Life, which hit bookshelves late last year, aims to change that and increase the public’s respect for members of the Czech armed forces.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová has acknowledged a problem with a
contract on the purchase of eight mobile radars for the Czech army from
Israel, prepared by her predecessor in office Martin Stropnicky.
In an debate on commercial TV Prima, Šlechtová said the radars had not been approved by the National Institute for Cyber Security and unless approval was granted the radars could not be linked up to NATO systems and put to effective use.
Šlechtová has commissioned a legal expertise on the matter, saying the contract might need to be reviewed.
Decorated Czechoslovak WWII general Ivan Otto Schwarz, who served in the
British RAF during the war, has died at the age of 94.
Schwarz was one of the crew of a bomber which sunk the German cargo ship, Alsterufer, in 1943. During 1200 flying hours, Schwarz also took part in missions against German U-boats and in the invasion of Normandy.
He returned to Czechoslovakia after the war but decided to leave for Britain again in 1946, suspecting the communist takeover which eventually took place in 1948.
President Miloš Zeman contacted Czech soldiers serving in the country’s
foreign missions on Thursday to thank them for their work in the fight
against terrorism. In a video-link with soldiers serving in Afghanistan,
Mali, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and Iraq, the president
thanked them for their dedication and courage in serving the country abroad
and wished them well in the New Year.
The country’s new defense minister, Karla Šlechtová, also exchanged greetings with the heads of foreign missions.
The Czech Republic currently has close to 500 soldiers serving abroad. Their numbers could rise by several hundred next year as the country wants to increase its presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. The country’s new prime minister, Andrej Babiš, would also like to send Czech soldiers to help protect Libyan borders.
The Parliamentary Defense Committee has recommended the lower house to
approve the defense budget for next year, envisaging expenditure of 58.9
billion crowns. The figure is 6.4 billion higher than in the previous year.
The money will allocated for instance for the salaries of new soldiers or for the purchase of ammunition, according to a draft budget presented by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.
The budget is likely to grow further in the following year to 66.6 billion and in 2020 to 77.3 billion crowns. Despite the increase, the level of spending is expected to reach only 1.35 percent of GDP in 2020, while the current government coalition agreed to ensure that the Czech Republic earmarks 1.4% of GDP by 2020.
The Czech Army will next year greatly increase the number of its soldiers
serving abroad in NATO missions, Czech Television reported. While at
present there are 400 Czech troops active in such missions, in 2018 the
number will rise to 1,100.
The Czech contingent in Iraq will get the single largest boost, with an extra 300 soldiers due to be deployed to the country. The cost of the military’s foreign operations could double to almost CZK 3 billion next year, Czech Television said.
Czech troops are currently on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Sinai Peninsula.
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