On 12th December delegations led by the Czech Minister of Defence, Lubomír Metnar, and U.S. Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, met at Pentagon. Their primary agenda included the procurement of twelve U.S. made H-1 family of helicopters for the Czech Armed Forces, including four AH-1Z Viper attack and eight UH-1Y Venom multirole aircraft.
‘We accepted the U.S. offer of a government-to-government contract for the procurement of eight UH-1Y Venom multirole and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and today we are finally signing the contract. It is an important milestone in the Czech-U.S. 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 stated.
‘We are pleased that the Czech Republic chose our helicopters. They will increase the Czech Armed Forces’ capabilities and interoperability in NATO’, Secretary Esper said.
‘From the perspective of the Czech Air Force helicopter fleet, this is a decisive step into the 21st century. With the acquisition of the H-1 system, the Czech Armed Forces obtain 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 H-1 family of helicopters, used by the U.S. Marine Corps, came out best in an open tender competition. According to the Czech MoD, ‘the combination of Venom and Viper aircraft best meets the capabilities required for close air support, airlift and medical evacuation. In addition, both designs have 85% commonality’, which reduces the logistics, maintenance, and training costs. At the same time both platforms offer a highly efficient and lethal combination of weapon systems to engage enemy’s ground, air and maritime targets with maximum effectiveness.
‘This mix allows the Czech Republic to accomplish a diverse mission set, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to close air support and air-to-air warfare’, said Joel Best, Director of Military Sales and Strategy, Europe. ‘The advanced capabilities of the H-1 program help ensure the safety and security of Czech sons and daughters for years to come’, he added.
The signed agreement covers the delivery of attack/multirole helicopters as well as provision of weapon systems, ammunition and spare parts, a training simulator and type training for pilots and ground specialist personnel. ‘We have again managed to negotiate a high involvement of the Czech industry. Our demand was for 30% of the contract value and the resulting percentage is even slightly higher’, Minister Metnar commented.
The performance of the contract will involve the LOM Praha and VTÚ state enterprises, and Ray Service, Aero Vodochody and VR Group companies. The relevant agreements between those firms and the Bell Corporation were already signed.