Czech Republic signs $630 million deal for Israeli-made air defenses

A SPYDER surface-to-air missile is fired in a test in an undated photograph. (Defense Ministry)
A SPYDER surface-to-air missile is fired in a test in an undated photograph. (Defense Ministry)

PRAGUE — The Czech Republic signs a deal to buy a new air defense system for its military from the Israeli government, the Czech defense ministry says.

The SPYDER system, which is made by the Israeli state-run company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., is capable of providing protection against aircraft, helicopters, bombers, cruise missiles and other weapons.

The defense ministry says the deal to get four short-range air defense batteries is worth 13.7 billion Czech koruna ($630 million), with the delivery to be completed by 2026.

Czech Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar says the Israeli system will be key in the ongoing modernization of the Czech armed forces.

It will replace an obsolete anti-aircraft Soviet-era 2K12 KUB system to defend military and civilian centers such as industrial hubs, nuclear power plants, airports and other important facilities.

Amir Eshel, director-general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, was on hand for the signing of the agreement.

“The agreement that we signed today is yet another milestone in the strategic cooperation between our two countries,” he’s quoted as saying in a ministry statement. “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.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also lauds the deal, saying it “further deepens the excellent defense relations” between Israel and the Czech Republic.

“It is a strategic agreement with a NATO- member country, which will create job opportunities in both countries.”

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