German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is visiting the Czech Republic for two days.

The visit of the Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany is another important milestone in Czech-German relations. Boris Pistorius became the first German Defense Minister to visit the Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius crypt, where Czech paratroopers defended themselves against encirclement during World War II.

The Czech Republic plans to purchase 77 Leopard 2A8 tanks for deliveries in 2027.

The interconnection of the two countries is enormous not only in the economic and cultural fields but also in the area of ​​defense. Germany is a strategic partner of the Czech Republic, and the two countries closeness is also confirmed by the Strategic Dialogue between the Czech Republic and Germany, launched in 2015. “The Czech Republic is not only one of our most important neighbors in Europe. We have a common border of 814 km. On the one hand, this border is primarily a unifying element. At the same time, it offers many opportunities for strategic cooperation and is very important for military cooperation but also for arms cooperation. Joint exercises, joint purchases, as in the case of the 77 Leopard tanks,” said Minister Pistorius.

The Defense and Security, task force meetings are held at the defense department level. The ministers agreed that it would be convenient to raise the representation in the meetings of this group to the level of deputies.

Cooperation has intensified in recent months in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. Czech and German units are deployed together in multinational NATO battlegroups in Lithuania and Slovakia. Berlin intends further to strengthen its presence on NATO’s eastern flank: Boris Pistorius announced in June that he would gradually station a robust brigade of 4,000 soldiers permanently in Lithuania. “Germany was the eastern wing of NATO until the end of the Warsaw Pact. We have always been able to rely on the partners of the NATO countries to defend our security and freedom. Therefore, we know very well how important the presence of the allies is and how important the protection of the new eastern flank is today,” Pistorius said.

Minister Černochová agreed with her German colleague that the two countries will continue to strengthen cooperation, with special emphasis on joint action on the Alliance’s eastern border and joint training of the armed forces.

Negotiations at the level of defense ministers have been taking place after three years, and Minister Černochová is in favor of even more frequent meetings: “I consider the defense area to be a very important part of the Strategic Dialogue. We must continue to strengthen cooperation at all levels,” she declared.

The Czech Republic and Germany increase aid to Ukraine.

According to Jana Černochová, the meeting confirmed that both ministers perceive today’s greatest threats in the same way. “Both our countries are already helping and will continue to help war-torn Ukraine to regain lost territories as soon as possible and drive Russian aggressors from its territory,” he said, appreciating Germany’s increasing role in supporting Kyiv and agreeing that both countries would help the attacked country for as long as necessary.

Berlin has already sent to Ukraine, among other things, howitzers, multi-barreled rocket launchers, Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and the Patriot air defense system. Ahead of the recent NATO summit in Vilnius, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised another 2.7 billion euro military aid package, which also includes 30 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks. Additional aid worth 700 million euros was announced at the summit, including, among other things, two more Patriot systems and 25 Leopard 1A5 tanks.

The Czech Republic has been among the main donors and providers of military aid since the beginning of the Russian invasion. In the past six months alone, 24 tanks, 17 infantry fighting vehicles and 645 anti-tank guided missiles have traveled to Ukraine. Last year, the Department of Defense provided, among other things, 38 tanks, 55 BVP (Czech variant BMP–Ed.), four aviation kits and 13 self-propelled howitzers.

Leopard tanks

In addition to the donation of 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks, which the Army of the Czech Republic will take over at the end of this year, the Czech government has entrusted the Minister of Defense with the negotiation of the possible purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks. The German side has already agreed that the Czech Republic join its framework agreement to purchase Leopard 2A8 tanks. The Czech Republic is considering the purchase of up to 77 of these tanks. The price will also depend on how many other countries eventually join the deal.

The German minister has described this plan as “an important and good step”. “We are very happy because it increases the ability to defend ourselves if necessary. The Czech Republic has long been the most important security and defense partner in the Central European region,” Boris Pistorius told a joint press conference at the Czech Defense Ministry.

The Czech Republic would thus join Germany, which intends to replace the Leopard 2A6 main battle tank with a new version of the 2A8. The German Defense Ministry plans to act as the so-called central contracting authority in the project, which will mediate communication with the KMW company manufacturer for all states involved, including the Czech Republic. According to Berlin, this procedure should significantly simplify the administration and speed up the process.

Another advantage is the uniform configuration, which allows a more or less series production and, therefore, a lower price. Tanks can only differ in communication equipment, paint and national markings.

“The main goal of this project is to make our heavy brigade fully interoperable according to NATO standards,” said Minister Černochová, according to which the signing of the contract could take place in mid-2024, and the first tanks could be delivered in 2027.

Czech Republic Ministry of Defense