Opportunities to coordinate and cooperate on the upcoming acquisitions of military hardware in the Visegrad region are wasted with every solo decision. The Central European Policy Institute and Polish Institute of International Affairs presented their DAV4 expert group report on industrial cooperation on April 22 in Warsaw, just a few days after Poland decided to buy the French Caracal helicopter.
The move is now criticised for being politically motivated and not taking into account regional context. Only a few weeks ago Slovakia announced it would probably go for the US Black Hawks, helicopters paradoxically being manufactured also in Poland. Whether or not the Warsaw’s decision was motivated by an interest in reviving the now seemingly preferred Weimar format or any gentleman agreement on the Mistral delivery to Russia is unknown. One way or another, it is a missed opportunity in the Visegrad context.
What else can we do together then? Hungary proposes a joint V3 aerial refueling in the midst of the Slovak fighter-jet replacement story. If Bratislava will not unexpectedly decide not to lease the Gripen aircraft, new opportunities for cooperation with the other two Visegrad operators would emerge. If there would be at least two countries deciding on the same helicopter amongst the four, a space for cooperation could be expanded.
There is one prerequisite, though: They have to redesign their national procurement policies to take cooperation benefits into account. Otherwise, the countries might once again end-up unprepared, as they did early this year when the Czechs and Slovaks could not overcome legislative barriers to buy radars jointly.