TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is reportedly nearing a major deal to acquire hundreds of missile trucks and self-propelled howitzers from the Czech Republic, while also looking to cooperate on developing military drones.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) met with a delegation led by Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Marketa Pekarova Adamova on Monday (March 27). CM Media cited a source familiar with the matter that Taiwan is preparing to purchase large missile trucks and 155 mm eight-wheel self-propelled howitzers, and will engage in cooperation on the development of military drones, with the deal expected to close soon and included in the next year's budget.
Adamova is heading a delegation of 160 members that arrived in Taiwan on Saturday (March 25). The delegation includes Michal Koudelka, head of the counter-intelligence Security Information Service (BIS); Lukas Kintr, director of the National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NUKIB); and other high-level security officials appointed by the new president of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel.
Large missile trucks
The source said the two countries are planning on conducting in-depth exchanges and cooperation in the military, combating disinformation, cybersecurity, semiconductors, and the military aerospace industry. In terms of military procurements, the source revealed that Taiwan is planning to purchase about 200 to 400 12-wheel large semi-trailer trucks, which would be used to transport Taiwanese missiles such as the Yun Feng surface-to-surface, supersonic cruise missile.
Under the guidance of the National Security Council, Taiwan and the Czech Republic have already reportedly discussed the procurement of vehicles in July 2022. The current delegation has been sent to further the talks, and the agreement has almost been finalized, according to the news site.
155 mm self-propelled howitzers
As for the purchase of the 155 mm eight-wheel self-propelled howitzers, Taiwan's previous application for the purchase of 40 M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers from the U.S. was to cost about NT$17.3 billion (US$569 million), which was approved by former President Donald Trump.
However, President Joe Biden scuttled the deal citing reasons such as the war in Ukraine and production line bottlenecks. Instead, the Biden administration offered the M142 HIMARS system as an alternative.
According to the news agency, Taiwan had already established communications over possible arms deals with the Czech Republic in 2020. It cited military experts as saying the Czech Republic's 155 mm self-propelled howitzer is more advanced than the M109A2 and A5 currently used by the Taiwanese military, but slightly inferior to the M109A6.
The name of the system was not provided, but the DITA 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer is in development, and the Morana 155 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer was unveiled in 2022.
The Czech delegation also includes personnel from the military aerospace industry. Taiwan's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) experts and members of the Asia UAV AI Innovation Application R&D Center in mid-February reportedly went to Europe to seek opportunities for strategic UAV cooperation in France, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and other countries.
Experts said Czech UAV technology is mature and Luxembourg has donated the Czech-made Primoco One 150 UAV, which has effectively provided battlefield intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and target acquisition (TA) capabilities.
When meeting with Adamova, Tsai pointed out that this is an important milestone in the progress of Taiwan-Czech relations. She mentioned that she had a phone call with Pavel in January about strengthening exchanges and cooperation in various fields.