The Czech Army has received the first batch of Toyota Hilux that will replace its ageing fleet of UAZs and Land Rover Defenders.
The first 65 out of the total of 1,200 vehicles have been handed over to the army on in Štěpánov in the presence of Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar and Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces Army General Aleš Opata.
"When asked what a 21st century army should look like, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is a well-armed and equipped soldier in a modern and reliable off-road vehicle. Forty-plus-year-old UAZs do not meet this definition, and even our Land Rovers are reaching the end of their service life," Defence Minister Metnar pointed out during the handover ceremony at the Material Security Centre of Technical Services in Štěpánov.
General Opata also expressed his joy at the successful acquisition and praised the vehicle's behaviour during military tests: "During these tests, we tried what the vehicles can withstand. It proved to be very good." The Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces hopes that the renewal of old equipment will not end with the acquisition of Toyota vehicles. "I want the modernisation of our army to continue wherever it is needed. It has to be as fast as possible. I will do my best to do that and it remains my priority."
The three-week military trials of the vehicle took place in June and July. The soldiers did not spare any praise: "I was surprised by what the car went through and what terrain it could handle. In Jaroměř, while wading, I thought we would drown it and be done with the rides. But it passed. For having universal smooth wheels, it handled this extreme terrain just fine," revealed a professional driver from the a supply battalion.
At the beginning of April, the Ministry of Defence informed on its Twitter account that the Toyota Hilux cars had successfully passed the control tests, and military tests would follow. The tests were also successful and were a condition for the cars to be handed over to the Army.
The contract for the delivery of 1,200 vehicles had been signed November last year between the Czech Ministry of Defence and Glomex Military Supplies. Glomex supplies the Czechs with custom-made hard-top vehicles featuring a 150 HP (110kW) diesel engine, equipped with hooks, run-flat inserts on the rims, anti-skid chains and all-terrain tyres that offer better traction and longer lifetime, on tarmac and off road. Glomex had won the tender against a competition of 12 other companies, among them a more modern version of the Land Rover Defender. Glomex supplies these vehicles at a price of 893,000 CZK (35,000 €) per vehicle with the total volume of 1.07 billion (42 million €).
The requirements set by the Ministry of Defence for the new car had been somewhat muddled. The original requirement for an off-road passenger car, which the Army originally wanted, ceased to apply with the first cancellation of the tender at the end of 2019. The new requirement was for the purchase of an off-road passenger car, a pick-up truck, weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. This is a four-door variant, because the two-seater version could not replace the old UAZs or Defenders. The new vehicles were to accommodate a crew of five with cargo and equipment.
The Hilux’s will replace the Czech army’s UAZ 469B and Land Rover Defender. The UAZ has been in Czech service since the Cold War. Locally produced, they have been in Czech service since 1973. The Defender has been in army service since 2009. The Czechs have been using both the 110 and the 130 variants of the vehicle. An armed version of the Defender is used by the country’s airborne forces, while armoured versions of the vehicle have seen service in the Czech deployments in Afghanistan, alongside regular versions.
Most of the vehicles from the initial delivery will go to the 43rd Airborne Regiment in Chrudim. By 2024, when the framework contract for 1,200 units is to be completed, they will reach almost all units of the Czech Army.