The United States has awarded Bell Textron a US$272.2m contract for the production and delivery of eight UH-1Y VENOM and four AH-1Z VIPER helicopters to the Czech Republic with delivery expected to be completed in November 2023. The Czech Ministry of Defence announced on 12th December 2019 that the proposed procurement would be a decisive step into the 21st century when the two sides represented by Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar and U.S Defence Secretary Mark Esper signed the deal at the Pentagon last year.
“We accepted the U.S. offer of a government-to-government contract for the procurement of eight UH-1Y VENOM and four AH-1Z VIPER helicopters… It is an important milestone in the Czech-US relations. We will obtain modern and combat proven machines, increase our capabilities and reduce our dependence on Russian made equipment at the same time,” Minister Metnar said after signing the deal in December.
For the Czech military, the H-1 system used by the U.S. Marine Corps came out best from a market sounding study to provide the capabilities required for close air support, airlift and medical evacuation while both designs have 85% commonality.
“We are pleased that the Czech Republic chose our helicopters. They will increase the Czech Armed Forces’ capabilities and interoperability in NATO,” Secretary Esper had said.
The price of CZK 14.6 billion (excl. VAT) is the same as that which the U.S. Government would pay to purchase these helicopters for the U.S. military. It also covers the weapons, ammunition, spare parts, a training simulator as well as type training for both pilots and specialist ground personnel.
“With the acquisition of the H-1 system, the Czech Armed Forces obtains new capabilities including technology. We have plans envisioning deployment of the new helicopters in the future,” said General Aleš Opata, the Chief of General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces.
The performance of the contract will involve the LOM Praha and VTÚ state enterprises in addition to Ray Service, Aero Vodochody and VR Group companies. The relevant agreements between those firms and the Bell Corporation were already signed.
J C Menon