With the procurement of Vydra 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in line with the Long Term Defence Development Plan, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will meet the operational requirements of the Slovak Armed Forces (SVK) to a full extent, whilst taking account of the vehicleʼs required ballistic protection level, firepower, mobility and swimming capability.
«The capabilities required for the vehicle have been verified and confirmed in several types of trials», said Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Daniel Zmeko. Should there be a requirement to increase the level of ballistic protection on the vehicle, he added, this solution is technically feasible. «If that is the case, our planners reckon with the vehicleʼs limited mobility in clearing water obstacles. This planning assumption is understandable, because today there is no such vehicle whose ballistic protection would be Level 4and above in a required configuration that could swim across water obstacles. The system of enhancing the ballistic protection of vehicles by fitting additional armour is a worldwide trend, one which improves the flexibility of the vehicle in terms of its operational use and saves resources markedly», he said. According to his own words, among the many crucial steps ahead is, above all, the vehicleʼs advanced anti-tank guided weapon system and fully interoperable communications and information system, including the ability to transfer classified information up to NATO Secret.
The aim of NATO defence planning is to harmonise national plans with NATO requirements. This means harmonising the requirements of SVK defence planners for the final shape of the SVK Armyʼs combat segment with NATOʼs requirement for a heavy mechanised brigade. Aligned with the 2030 Long-Term Defence Development Plan, the SVK Armyʼs combat segment is comprised of 7 battalions, i.e. 1 motorised battalion (equipped with 4×4 vehicles), 2 mechanised battalions (equipped with 8×8 IFVs), 3 heavy battalions (equipped with tracked vehicles), and 1 tank battalion.
As part of consultations with the NATO defence capability review team, we explained the order of sequence to achieve the final shape of the SVK Armyʼs combat segment and mechanised brigade according to NATO requirements. As part of Phase 1, 1 artillery unit will be complemented gradually and reequipped with the Zuzana 2 SpGH. The outdated BVP 1 vehicles will be replaced by the Vydra 8×8 IFV fleet. A tank battalion, equipped with the T-72 tanks after a partial upgrade and life extension programme, will have been stood up by 2024, with the acquisition of 4th generation tanks scheduled after 2025. As the BVP 2 fleet will be phased out, new advanced combat tracked vehicles will be fielded after 2024 in line with the Long-Term Defence Development Plan. The structure of the heavy mechanised brigade in terms of NATO requirements and other tasks arising out of NATO and EU commitments will be delivered flexibly, depending on the availability of military assets.