image Photo: IMOD Spokesperson’s Office

Israel signs largest-ever defense deal with Czech Republic

Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) Director General Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel and Czech Deputy Minister for Armaments and Acquisition Lubor Koudelka signed the $520 million GTG (government-to-government) agreement in Prague.

By Erin Viner

According to terms of the biggest agreement signed between the countries to date, the Czech Republic will receive 4 SPYDER batteries manufactured by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., which include MMR radars produced by the  Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The agreement was signed under the guidance of the ImoD’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT).

SPYDER is an air defense system based on Rafael’s Python and Derby air-to-air missiles designed to intercept a variety of airborne threats including planes, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) intended to strengthen Czech defense by being integrated into infrastructure in the central European nation.

“It is a strategic agreement with a NATO- member country, which will create job opportunities in both countries,” said Israeli Defense Minister Gantz. Czech industries will also be involved in the process outlined in the agreement.

After thanking “my friend, Czech Minister of Defense Lubomir Metnar” for “sealing this important agreement, which further deepens the excellent defense relations between our countries,” Israel’s top defense chief expressed pride in his nation’s “defense industries and their advanced technology which is requested by many of our partner countries.”

Gantz also thanked the SIBAT and Rafael for their work on the agreement.

Czech Minister of Defense Metnar expressed deep appreciation to the Israeli government for willingness “to share one of its most advanced defense systems with us,” which he said will “push our armed forces to the 21st century in the air defense domain.”

“I believe that it is a milestone in our long-term strategic partnership that will help to further it,” said the Czech defense chief.

ImoD Dir. General Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eshel said at a press conference after the signing that, “The Czech Republic has always been an esteemed ally of Israel, and we will always remember the unconditional support that we received from the Czech Republic during the establishment of the State.”

He added that the latest bilateral defense deal “reflects the visions of both Ministers Gantz and Metnar to further develop cooperation between Israeli and Czech industries,” pointing out that, “This is the first time that Israel will deliver a full air defense system to a NATO country, and we are proud and thrilled that the Czech Republic is the one.” The Rafael system “represents the excellent capabilities of Israeli defense industries, which are leaders in the global defense market,” remarked the Israeli general.

Rafael CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yoav Har-Even expressed pride that his defense technology company had completed its first agreement with a NATO country, and that it serves as “a strategic milestone” for further prospective European partnerships. “The agreement also includes a maintenance contract for the next two decades as well as local production- two trends that Rafael has been increasing in recent years,” he elaborated.

In related developments, the IMoD opened Israel’s first-ever national pavilion at the IDET International Defense and Security Technologies Fair. The inauguration of the Israeli pavilion was attended by Czech Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček and Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek.

The IDET is an important defense and security technology exhibition, being held in the Czech city of Brno. IDET is one of the first forums of its kind to be launched in Europe since outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from the IMoD Spokesperson’s Office, the event “has garnered great interest in the global security market.”

10 leading Israeli defense industries presenting their systems and defense capabilities at the IDET pavilion are Elbit Systems, IAI, Rafael, BIRD Aerosystems, Omnisys, Orbit, Plasan Sasa, Netline, Nimda and UVision.

“Yesterday we signed the biggest agreement to date with the Czech Republic, worth ₪ 2 billion shekels ($520 million). Today we are taking yet another step in further strengthening security relations, by inaugurating an Israeli national pavilion in a Czech defense exhibition for the first time. We see great potential for defense cooperation in the areas of UAVs, air defense, missile systems, intelligence and cyber systems. We thank the Czech Ministry of Defense for the confidence placed in our defense system and in our excellent industries. We will continue working together to strengthen relations and maintaining the security interests of both our countries,” said SIBAT Principal Deputy Director Shahar Rachela Horev at the inauguration.