KIELCE, Poland — As Slovakia is pursuing plans to acquire at least 76 eight-wheel-drive armored vehicles, Prague-based defense holding Czechoslovak Group (CSG) hopes to build on its experience with Czech wheeled vehicle programs to expand to the neighboring market.

Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď told reporters Sept. 8 that the government had approved the ministry’s vehicle acquisition plans. Under the plan, at least 50 percent of the planned eight-wheel-drive vehicle deal is to be allocated to local businesses. As a result, foreign bidders for the contract will need to team up with companies that run manufacturing assets in Slovakia.

With the Slovak tender in mind, the Czech group has increased its presence in the neighboring country.

“This year, we launched a new brand in Slovakia, Tatra Defence Slovakia, which will mount chassis for military vehicles,” Jiri Chromec, a representative of Tatra Trucks, told Defense News. “Our Slovak facility will work on various vehicles, including six- and eight-wheel-drive ones.”

CSG’s offshoot Tatra Defence Vehicle produced the Pandur II eight-wheel-drive vehicle for the Czech military as part of its cooperation with General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems. Under its partnership with France’s Nexter Systems, Tatra will make chassis for the Titus six-wheel-drive armored vehicles that are to be delivered to the Czech land forces in the years 2022 to 2023.

The first batch of 76 eight-wheel-drive vehicles with accompanying gear and services is valued at about €332 million (US$394 million). In total, Bratislava could purchase up to 500 such vehicles, according to data from the Slovak ministry.

Local observers say that some of the foreign players that are expected to offer their eight-wheel-drive vehicles to Slovakia include GDELS, with the Pandur II, and Finland’s Patria, with its armored modular vehicle (AMV).

At the same time, Slovakia is also planning to purchase 152 new tracked vehicles for its land forces.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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