SVOS boss Jaroslav Černý is pinning his hopes on the fact that the government is yet to come to its final decision on the contract worth some CZK 2.7bn. Černý intends to persuade both Social Democrat and ANO ministers, as well as MPs, to come down on his
side. Meanwhile, he is waving a stick at defence minister Martin Stropnický (ANO), in the form of a threat to sue his ministry.
Černý has sent two letters to Stropnický. “The manner in which the ministry’s decision to select the TITUS [Tactical Infantry Transport and Utility System] vehicle was announced clearly and significantly undermined the value of our own carrier, the Vega, and caused damage to SVOS in terms of goodwill and business interests both in the Czech Republic and abroad,” said Černý. He demanded that this country follow the example of France in giving precedence to an armoured vehicle that would be entirely manufactured domestically. A selection process that can be deemed fair must decide between the TITUS and Vega, he said. The ministry, he added, should initiate the creation of a consortium comprising SVOS, Tatra and state-owned arms maker VOP CZ. Failing that, Černý is prepared to seek a resolution on both the political and judicial levels.
A meeting with deputy defence minister with responsibility for armaments Daniel Koštoval failed to resolve the stand-off. “I have repeatedly assured Mr. Černý that our procedures are fully in line with the law. However, he seems to refuse to take it on board,” said Koštoval.
The ministry is defending its choice of the Titus carrier by pointing out that it is built upon a Tatra chassis which already features in most of the existing carrier fleet of the armed forces. SVOS, unlike the French bidder, does not have a contract with Tatra Trucks. If the ministry’s purchasing agents were to hold a straight contest between the TITUS and Vega, the Přelouč company would be
at a significant disadvantage due to this fact. What’s more, if Tatra was to conclude a contract with both firms, the truck manufacturer would have be excluded from the tender as it would find itself fighting on both sides, with both contenders dependent on deliveries of Tatra chassis. “That would spell disaster for the army as it would mean the armed forces would fail to obtain the vehicles they are already counting on,” noted Koštoval.
The deputy minister concluded that the only viable solution was to directly address a single supplier who could meet the army’s demands, namely the combination of Nexter and Tatra.