Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar (for ANO) is due to finalise the Czech
Army purchase of twelve US helicopters on Thursday following talks with his
American counterpart, Mark Esper.
The ministry has agreed to buy eight utility UH-1Y Venom helicopters and four AH-1Z attack Viper helicopters from Bell for 14.6 billion crowns. They are due for delivery in 2023.
Bell was chosen over a cheaper option due to its offer of greater cooperation with Czech firms, especially state-owned LOM Praha, which maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters.
Metnar said last month the contract includes equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training of the personnel and best meets Czech needs.
The Czech Army chose to buy 12 military helicopters from US maker Bell
rather than a cheaper option from its rival Sikorsky mainly because Bell
offered greater cooperation with Czech firms, the daily Právo reports.
The deal priced at 14.5 billion crowns included 8 utility Venom helicopters and 4 attack Viper helicopters, which share most of their parts. Sikorsky had offered 12 Black Hawks for 1 billion crows less and included weaponry and ammunition shipments.
But military officials told Právo that Bell offered far more work for Czech companies, in particular the state-owned enterprise LOM Praha, which fixes and maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters, and the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ).
Bell’s deal also allowed for preserving combat capabilities when the Mi-24s are removed from service, around 2025, the sources said.
For the past five years one of the world’s oldest aircraft manufacturers, Aero Vodochody, has been developing a next generation jet trainer. Engineers say that one of its key selling points is its ability to train pilots from beginning to end, a new concept in how pilots are taught. To find out more, I visited the two sites where the ongoing tests are underway.
The Czech Army will acquire US combat and multipurpose helicopters Viper
and Venom. According to Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar, a combination of
two machines is more appropriate than the purchase of only multi-purpose
Black Hawk helicopters. The helicopters should be available in 2023.
The ministry received two offers for the purchase of helicopters from the US government in late June. The US administration offered either 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for 13.2 billion crowns or eight UH-1Y Venom helicopters along with four AH-1Z Viper helicopters worth 14.5 billion crowns. The price includes maintenance and training of personnel.
The bids were assessed by a committee made up of ministry and army representatives. The contract should be signed by the end of the year.
The minority coalition government of embattled Prime Minister Andrej Babiš relies on the support of the Communists, giving the largely unreformed, pro-Moscow, anti-NATO party a political say for the first time since 1989. In exchange for its tolerance, the Communists have won some major policy concessions, and party chairman Vojtěch Filip seems increasingly determined to scupper a deal to buy US military helicopters to replace the Czech Army’s ageing fleet.
US Senator Rand Paul will try to block the sale of helicopters to the Czech
Army, despite the sale having been approved by the US State Department in
The Republican lawmaker from Kentucky has put forward several resolutions in the upper house of Congress to prohibit the agreed sale of military equipment also to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Czech Army is looking to buy 12 combat or multipurpose helicopters from the American companies Bell Helicopter and General Electric. According to the Czech Embassy in Washington, Senator Paul’s chances of stopping or delaying the sale are slim.
The Czech military aircraft producer Aero Vodochody is marking the company’s 100th birthday with an exhibition documenting the development of its aircraft over the years. Titled “A century with Aero”, the exhibition showcases veterans – from its very first Aero A-1 which took to the skies in 1919 to its latest L-39 NG model launched in December of last year.
A helicopter crash near the town of Slavoňov in the north east of the
country claimed two lives on Friday morning. According to the regional
police spokesman Ondřej Moravčík, the police are now investigating the
helicopter’s flying route and other details. The village mayor, Michal
Suchánek, says that the helicopter circled high above before plunging down
from the sky straight into the field.
The company which owns the helicopter, told the news server Novinky.cz that the machine was on a training flight.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in Davos this week talking to international leaders. On Thursday he met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Apple CEO Tim Cook. According the Mr. Babiš there is much potential for Czech companies in what is currently the country’s second largest trading partner in South America.