The Czech Republic has signed a major deal to purchase a new air defence system from Israel, in an effort to modernise and strengthen its armed forces.

According to an announcement by the Czech defence ministry yesterday, the 13.7 billion Czech korun ($630 million) deal will enable Prague to acquire the Spyder air defence system produced by the Israeli state-run defence company, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd.

The delivery of the four short-range air defence batteries — which aims to protect against attacks by bombers, aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles on important military and civilian sites throughout the country — is set to be completed by 2026.

The move is the latest attempt by the Czech Republic to modernise and improve its military and defence capabilities, with the Israeli air defence system, in particular, replacing the outdated Soviet-era 2K12 Kub system which was acquired four decades ago.

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Prague has long been one of Tel Aviv’s staunchest European supporters and announced its intention to purchase the Spyder system last year, albeit at an estimated price of $200 million less than this finalised deal.

Despite publicly supporting a two-state solution and insisting in 2016 that East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel, the Czech Republic contradicted its stance in December last year when it placed a diplomatic presence in Jerusalem in recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital.

It was reported in February this year that those countries which recognise Tel Aviv’s claim over Jerusalem would be provided supplies of Covid-19 vaccines from Israel, with Prague being one of those recipients.

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