WARSAW, Poland — Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar has announced the ministry’s acquisition plans for 2019. Next year, the country aims to purchase 210 infantry fighting vehicles, multi-purpose helicopters, and mobile air defense radars (MADRs), among other systems. Metnar said that in 2018 the ministry managed to conclude deals to purchase weapons and military equipment worth more than 14.5 billion koruna (US $635 million). There is a consensus across the country’s political spectrum that the country’s defense spending must be further increased in the coming years, the minister said, as reported by local daily Denik. With F-16 buy, Slovakia ‘cutting off’ Russian hardware NATO member Slovakia is on track to purchase 14 Lockheed Martin F-16V fighters to replace its MiG-29 jets in a wider effort to break from Russia, a defence ministry official said Saturday. By: Joe Gould The planned acquisitions are largely focused on replacing the military’s Soviet-designed gear with new equipment made by Western allies and Czech manufacturers. The region-wide trend has accelerated following Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Ales Opata, the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, said at a joint press conference with Metnar that the key to military modernization was the upgrade of the country’s land forces. “I don’t only mean [acquisitions of] tanks or infantry fighting vehicles, but also robot systems, reconnaissance and combat unmanned vehicles,” Opata said.