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Netherlands General Visits Czech Arms Manufacturers

DITA self-propelled howitzer [© Dutch MoD press release image]

Netherlands General Eichelsheim visits arms manufacturers in the Czech Republic that are supplying Ukraine howitzers and radar.


Press Release, The Hague, 28 February 2024: General Eichelsheim visits arms manufacturers in the Czech Republic that are supplying Ukraine.

The DITA self-propelled howitzer is a modern artillery system that can hit targets dozens of kilometres away. Ukraine urgently needs weapons of this kind. The Netherlands therefore recently ordered nine units for Ukraine. The weapons are part of a large Dutch order for Ukraine that is being fulfilled by two arms manufacturers in the Czech Republic. Netherlands Chief of Defence General Onno Eichelsheim paid them a visit today. Eichelsheim also inspected a VERA-NG radar system. This passive surveillance system can track airborne, maritime and ground targets.

Excalibur Army DITA 155mm self-propelled howitzer [© Bob Morrison]

Europe’s collective production capacity can only be rapidly increased through smart cooperation. Joint procurement by countries helps in this regard. The Chief of Defence stressed that support to Ukraine remains the highest priority for the Netherlands.

Testing for Ukraine: The Netherlands had already ordered 100 MR-2 counter-UAS and light air defence systems and, together with the United States and Denmark, 100 modernised T-72 main battle tanks in the Czech Republic. Eichelsheim was also shown these weapons during his tour of the manufacturers Excalibur Army and ERA. The MR-2 is a relatively basic mobile air defence system that can effectively eliminate drones. Ukrainian military personnel are already familiar with the T-72 tank. They therefore do not require additional training to operate it. After the materiel has been tested, it goes directly to Ukraine.

Defence industry on the rise: The Netherlands is cooperating with the Czech Republic because of its well-developed defence industry, and the Netherlands is now one of the Czech defence industry’s most important customers. In most European countries, rebuilding the capacity to produce weapon systems and weapon platforms in significant quantities will take time because of decades of little or no investment.

However, Europe’s security is now very much at risk, not only because of the war in Ukraine. Unrest in the Middle East, a more assertive China and shifting power dynamics are also factors. The Netherlands is therefore investing in the production capacity of the European defence industry. As Eichelsheim explained, a failure to do so would place the security of the Netherlands at even greater risk.

Many other European countries and companies have also entered into partnerships to increase production capacity. A good example in this regard is the plan for a European production line in Germany for Patriot air defence missiles.


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