The Ministry of Defense announced at the beginning of August that it would like to start negotiations with Israel on the purchase of three Heron 1 drones. The contract could be concluded this year. Heron 1 can be used for reconnaissance purposes, but thanks to the ability to carry weapons, it can also be used for offensive actions.
Defense allocated 1.5 billion crowns for purchases in recent years. According to Černochová, the expected value of the order after preliminary market consultations was set at 2.7 billion crowns. “The increase in funding was driven by a higher range of support systems being procured, a range of sensor equipment and aircraft armaments and a substantial increase in prices since the 2019 valuation,” the minister said. She pointed out that a similar price increase recently affected other military contracts.
Czech drone manufacturer: I don’t understand why we buy Israeli drones
Černochová added that the contract with Israel will only be concluded if the Israeli government submits an acceptable offer that will also include the involvement of the Czech defense industry in the amount of at least 30 percent of the contract. Integration into the NATO system is also a condition.
According to the ministry, the procurement of drones is based on the construction concept of the Czech army. This strategic document identifies drones as critical in conducting aerial reconnaissance and performing other tasks in direct combat support and protection of Army units. Defense said it had approached several countries as part of market consultations. Heron 1 should have emerged as the best choice from the assessment.
The military now has several smaller drones in its arsenal. The largest of them is ScanEagle, which Czech soldiers used in Afghanistan for several years. Its weight is up to 22 kilograms, it can fly over 100 kilometers and can stay in the air for over 20 hours. Heron 1 weighs about 1,150 kilograms and its maximum speed is about 200 kilometers per hour. Flight time exceeds 40 hours.