March 18, 2009:
The Czech Republic has purchased 107 Pandur II armored vehicles. This comes after backing out of a 2006 deal to buy 199 Pandur II vehicles from General Dynamics (via its Austrian subsidiary, Steyr-Daimler-Puch), for about $5.6 million each. The new deal gets the vehicles for about $6.6 million each. Why?
The 15 ton vehicle is similar to the U.S. Army Stryker. The first 17 vehicles were to be delivered in 2007, but there were delays. The Czechs used this, and unsatisfactory results during testing of the vehicles, as reasons for backing out of the deal. There were also political factors, the main one being a new party in charge of the government. The new crew believed a different vehicle design was needed. The Pandurs are eight wheel vehicles, and the current thinking then was that four and six wheel models would be more suitable. After much debate and deliberation, and noting recent experience in Afghanistan, it was decided that the original decision was correct after all.
The Pandur vehicles are to replace Cold War era OT-64s (13 ton wheeled armored vehicles), which are also similar to the Pandur, but pretty much worn out by now. The Czech Pandurs would be, like the Stryker, be equipped with better electronics, and things like remote control turrets.