The Strategist

IDET: What perspectives for the market this year?

07/10/2019 - 19:12

Held at the end of May 2019, the International Defense Exhibition of the Czech Republic (IDET) will showcase tens of military manufacturers, eager to present their new creations in the current era of global military reorganization. Some have come with specific projects in mind, as artillery and infantry take, once again, the center of the tactical stage.

Infantry and artillery systems take center stage
Over 30 industrial firms are partaking in the 2019 edition of the International Defense Exhibition, held in Brno, Czech Republic, between May 29 and 31. Defense blog Army recognition covers . the most extensive coverage of the event, with detailed reports on each product. A focus is made on vehicles, as mobility and operational coverage have proven crucial in recent military operations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, the tactical asymmetry which modern armies have been faced with (in which large conventional formations are pitted against small and evasive units) has marked a new phase, where mobility and protection have become the most important parameters in military deployments. Therefore, other types of military equipment (such as small arms or logistic equipment) are present at the fair, but are given less coverage, as they bear less tactical significance. The Czech Republic is putting a lot of attention into the fair, as it hopes to increase its defenses shortly and also place its domestic industry at the heart of the European security market. "This government’s priority, as well as mine, is to significantly strengthen the long-term security and defense capability of the Czech Republic. This can only be achieved by accomplishing these important armaments projects”, the Czech defense minister Lubomir Metnar said, well aware that neighboring countries also needed to modernize their forces, and that the current rearmament phase is an opportunity to reinforce Europe collectively.
Exhibitors from all around the globe
Manufacturers from all over the world have answered the call, such as General Dynamics, which is presenting its COBRA assault bridge, that can bridge up to 11 meters within minutes, and extend mobility for all types of vehicles except heavy tanks. But European manufacturers are proving the most inventive this years, as French and German industries simultaneously compete and cooperate - thus providing European defense with a powerful growth drive. Rheinmetall is presenting its new Lynx Infantry Fighting vehicle, a uniquely tank-shaped vehicle in the category, in competition with its French VBCI counterpart. Both firms offer high levels of armament, off-road mobility, and capacity to transport an entire fighting squad with its cargo. The French, nonetheless, have recently scored big infantry points by designing, along with their British partners, the new CTA 40 ammunition which extends range and reduces weight. Light mortars are also being exhibited with high expectations, as artillery has regained tactical importance in recent battlefields, with military commanders eager to cover as much territory as possible.
Opportunity and recognition for the Czech industry
IDET 2019 brings significant development potential for the Czech industry, which may be positively involved in military-industrial developments on the European scene in coming years. Two Czech firms are present at the exhibition: Omnipol, which doesn’t produce but is an active broker in the field of armament, and mobility firm Tatra, which produces high-quality platforms on which integrators can fit various vehicle configurations. Recently, the French giant Nexter called upon the Czech’s technology to build the European MRAP variant: the Titus. Such vehicles (APC, armored personal carrier) have become centerpieces on tactical chess boards, as troop mobility and protection depend on them. The Tatra-Nexter Titus provides troops with higher mobility, while bringing much higher levels of protection (namely against IEDs and landmines) than previous IFVs, such as BMPs. It is also fitted with drone technology, which increases the operational capabilities of the vehicle, namely in intelligence gathering. Nexter is foreseen to take the lead on European military equipment matters, as the new Franco-German partnership develops, and Czech firm Tatra will be among the first beneficiaries of the trend. The French firm has based its strategy on local partnerships (like Tatra’s) so as to integrate all available European technology into one rationalized offer. Defense blog Army recognition reports : “According to a statement published on August 27, 2018, by the Czech Ministry of Defense website, Czech Republic has awarded a contract to supply 62 TITUS 6x6 armored combat vehicles, jointly developed and designed by the French Company Nexter Systems now part of KNDS and the Czech Company TATRA.” The objective is to maintain quality levels while optimizing costs, and securing Europe at the top of the global market. Nexter launched its Czech partnership in 2018 and announced placing great value on the available technology.
Large-scale military activity expected in Eastern Europe in coming years
Numerous countries in the Eastern part of Europe are expected to modernize their armed forces, due to two factors. The resurgence of the Russian threat exerts strategic pressure upon military commanders. Also, a sizable share of formerly Soviet countries still uses Russian-issued equipment, despite now having joined NATO. Defense specialist Max Bergmann writes, in the wake of a NATO Mig-21 crash during a joint exercise: “The militaries of NATO’s former communist members remain reliant on Soviet-era equipment, leaving them in pressing need of overhaul.” Not only is maintenance no longer available for these aging vehicles, but alliance membership will be consolidated with the purchase of NATO-standard equipment. All of the vehicles presented at IDET are NATO-standard, indicating where the Eastern European market is going: West.
The Czech Republic has always had a tradition of high-tier armament production, and is poised to become a central player on the European military market. Many of the necessary technologies for military vehicle production are well mastered in the Czech Republic, and association with the Franco-German leadership will bring substantial and additional drive to the Czech economy, and to its military capabilities.