The Czech Republic’s Defence Ministry will sign contracts worth nearly five billion crowns in the near future, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický told the Czech News Agency on Saturday. Investments planned include maintenance of Mi helicopters, and purchase of military equipment for the ground forces. "We continue to modernize the army and supplement the inventory and within the next few weeks we plan to sign deals with Czech suppliers worth five million crowns," the minister said.
The aviation industry is one where the Czech Republic boasts a proud tradition but a reduced and sometimes problematic recent past. Now it appears to be on the rebound and the government has high hopes that the country’s biggest aviation company, Aero Vodochody, and one of its key aircraft could be at the centre of the revival.
The Defense Ministry and plane maker Aero Vodochody have signed an agreement under which the company will service the military’s fleet of 24 L-159 fighter jets and four Albatros L-139 planes until 2022. The contract is for 2.5 billion crowns. According to ministry sources the price is realistic since up until now the fleet’s maintenance cost approximately 250 million crowns annually. The air force has nine Albatros planes but five are not in use and the ministry is looking for a buyer.
Two foreign firms will for the first time operate the air medical service in the Czech Republic. Along with the Czech company DSA, the service will be run by Slovak Air Transport Europe and the Austrian Helikopter Air Transport, the Czech Television reported on Thursday. The decision was made this week by the Health Ministry’s commission and must be yet confirmed by the Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček.
Two people died when a helicopter crashed in West Bohemia on Tuesday, a police spokesperson said. The accident occurred between the villages of Rybnice and Kaznějov at around 15:30. The impact of the crash was so devastating that neither the age nor the gender of the victims was immediately apparent, a spokesperson for the local rescue services told the Czech News Agency.
Brigadier General Jaromír Sebesta took over command of the Czech Air Force on Tuesday. He replaces General Libor Štefanik who held the post for three years. The change of guard took place at a special ceremony at Kbely Military Airport in Prague. The air force has 5,400 pilots who fly Gripen planes, helicopters and CASA transport planes. They serve the country’s defense needs, take part in foreign missions and help out in times of crisis such as floods.