The Czech Republic has signed a $630m deal to buy a new air defence system from Israel, marking the central European nation’s latest move to modernise its armed forces.
Announced on Tuesday, the agreement will see Prague procure the Spyder system made by the Israeli state-run company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
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Spyder is capable of providing protection against aircraft, helicopters, bombers, cruise missiles and other weapons.
The Czech defence ministry said the deal, under which the NATO member will get four short-range air defence batteries, is worth 13.7 billion Czech korun ($630m). Delivery of the components is set to be completed by 2026.
The Spyder system will replace an obsolete anti-aircraft Soviet-era 2K12 Kub system to defend military and civilian centres such as industrial hubs, nuclear power plants, airports and other important facilities.
Czech-France guns deal
Under a separate deal announced last week, the Czech military will acquire 52 Caesar self-propelled gun howitzers from France’s Nexter Systems.
That agreement, worth 8.52 billion Czech korun ($390 million), was signed on Thursday during French defence minister Florence Parly’s visit to Prague.
The new weapons will replace obsolete Dana systems that do not meet NATO standards. Most of the guns will be assembled in the Czech Republic.
The deals come as French President Emmanuel Macron calls for Europe to defend its interests and build its own military capacity following a major diplomatic row with traditional allies the United States, United Kingdom and Australia over the recently announced trilateral Aukus security pact.
“This [Czech deal] comes after a period of rapprochement with the Czech Republic that was marked on a strategic level, but also a vision that is closer to what European defence policy should be and should bring us,” a French army official told Reuters before last week’s deal with Prague was signed.