WARSAW, Poland — The Czech military has unveiled plans to purchase new surveillance and combat drones by 2025 under a program estimated to be worth about 1 billion koruna (U.S. $46.5 million).
Gen. Josef Becvar, the chief of the Czech Republic’s General Staff, told local news agency CTK that the planned acquisitions will include new ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu. The drones are to be purchased in 2019 under a deal worth about 200 million koruna.
After 2020, the Czech Armed Forces are also to acquire combat UAVs with the aim to increase their air strike capability, according to the general.
The country’s armed forces already operate Insitu’s drones. The drones were used by the Czech military contingent in Afghanistan, among others.
After years of sluggish spending, the Czech Republic moved to increase its defense expenditure following Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
In 2017, the Czech defense budget is to total more than 52.53 billion koruna, a 10 percent increase compared with a year earlier. This makes this year’s Czech military expenditure the largest in absolute numbers since 2007. Next year, Prague is planning to further raise its defense spending to some 57.77 billion koruna, according to data from the ministry.