Tatra breaks into Saudi Arabia
The Czech defence industry is seeing growth after years of stagnation. Following on from the success of the Uherský Brod-based arms producer Česká zbrojovka, which is completing a production branch in Brazil, this year will see Kopřivnice-based Tatra Trucks enjoy a major foreign expansion.
The firm is to open an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia for T 810 medium trucks and eventually for flagship T 815-7 heavy trucks to serve the country’s armed forces. To date, the company has orders covering three years with a value of four and a half billion crowns.
“I can confirm that we have succeeded in commencing a production and assembly project in the Middle East,” Petr Rusek, Chairman of the Management Board and Commercial Director at Tatra, told E15 daily. He added: “In January, we launched deliveries of the first vehicle. We are also right now helping a local state company to construct an assembly plant. We are additionally negotiating with local firms who are possible subcontractors.”
This year, Tatra intends to supply 200 assembled T810s and no later than the upcoming third or the fourth quarter 100 unassembled vehicles. They will be put together by Saudi Arabian workers, with Czech instructors providing supervision. “At the moment in Kopřivnice relatively big groups of people from this Middle Eastern country are moving through, learning how the vehicles are assembled. They are also driving and conducting diagnostics,” said Rusek.
Tatra’s management expects that production will gradually build up and result in further projects. If, for example, the Saudi Arabian defence minister decided to purchase self-propelled howitzers, logically he would also request Tatra chassis.
French armaments concern Nexter Systems, producing tanks and transporters, has constructed the TITUS vehicle on the unique chassis made at Kopřivnice, which is proving a success on the market.
Tests of such armoured vehicles were recently concluded in Saudi Arabia.