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. Czech watchdog highlights risk from ageing missiles

by Staff Writers
Prague (AFP) June 12, 2008
The Czech army's arsenal of guided anti-aircraft missiles is so outdated as to present a risk to the forces using them, a national spending watchdog warned on Thursday.

In nearly all cases, the recommended technical lifespan of the missiles currently in service has been exceeded "two or threefold," the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) said in a report.

The only exception was the more recently acquired RBS-70 anti-aircraft missile system.

Missiles have a normal lifespan of around 10 years after which chemical changes occur that can affect their stability.

"In extreme cases this can lead to self detonation," the report explained.

The ministry of defence confirmed the report's findings but said the dangers were exaggerated.

"It is true that the recommended lifetime is exceeded as the report states but that does not mean there is a risk," spokeswoman Monika Machtova told AFP.

Manufacturers' technical recommendations were deliberately conservative and that did not mean missiles could not be used afterwards, she said, adding that "regular" checks were made on the missiles' condition.

The audit office also said the ministry's long-term plans for the army's development from 2009-2014 failed to deal properly with the country's NATO commitments regarding anti-aircraft defence.

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