Prague to buy Israeli air defense system

The Czech defense ministry will buy a short- and medium-range air defense system made by Israeli state-owned supplier Rafael, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said it had informed the cabinet it would conclude a government-to-government deal to buy Rafael's SPYDER Short Range Air Defense/Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (SHORAD/MRSAM).

It said it would pay 13.69 billion crowns ($631.81 million) for the system, which will replace Soviet-made technology from the 1970s.

The government has been raising defense spending to modernize its armed forces, but has admitted it would fall short of its pledge as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

The ministry said last year when it opened talks on the Rafael deal that it planned to buy four batteries, each including its own radar, command and control unit.

The system, used to protect cities, nuclear power plants and other potential targets, will be supplied by 2026, it said. 

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