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>> Diminished from their Soviet-era height, global conflicts are driving Czech Republic arms manufacturers, like this jet factory outside Prague, to sales they haven't seen in years. Aero Vodochody, says it's thanks to an increased demand for weapons from politically neutral countries. Reuter's, Michael Kahn, saw their operations first hand.
>> Behind me you can see that workers servicing an L-159 light combat jet. This is the flagship product that the company is focusing on, as it relaunches production of the aircraft, and looks to push into new markets. Following the fall of communism, most of its customers lost interest in buying military products.
And as the newly democratic Czechoslovakia focused more on privatization, the company lost its way. A new CEO, Giuseppe Giordo, took over last year. Since then, the company has modernized its facility, relaunched production lines, and bolstered its supply chains. It's looking into new markets, and last year, delivered aircraft to the Iraqi air force.
>> Aero Vodochody plans to make up to 26 of the L159 a year, along with a training jet, the L39. For over a decade it made none at all, other manufacturers are also seeing a boost. Česká Zbrojovka, which makes small arms, now supplies an elite French commando unit with assault rifles, and is in competition to supply Pakistan's military.
It plans to make 300,000 weapons this year, double its production from six years ago. In all, Czech military exports have tripled over the last four years to over $800 million according to industry representatives. But sales are still a far cry from the Cold War, far down a list of the world's biggest dealers, It was the 18th last year behind Norway.
Aero Vodochody says smaller countries looking to buy, maybe hopeful to get away from the titans of the industry, like the US and Russia, which come with more political strings attached.