Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic announced on Tuesday it would buy 12 Bell military helicopters to replace its ageing Russian-made Mi-24 aircraft.
As part of the 14.6 billion Kc-deal ($630 million), the Czech armed forces will acquire eight UH-1Y Venom multi-purpose helicopters and four AH-1S Viper attack helicopters from U.S. military contractor Bell. Including VAT, the total price of the deal stands at some 17.7 billion Kc.
According to the Czech Defence Ministry’s official statement, the deal will be formally signed later this year.
“The army needs helicopters. The sooner we get rid of our dependence on Russian technology, the better. That is why we want to sign the contract this year, so that by 2023, the helicopters will equip the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic”, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (ANO) said.
Apart from the 12 military helicopters, the deal struck by the U.S. and Czech governments also includes other equipment, a training simulator and conversion training for technical personnel and pilots.
The U.S. State Department gave its green-light to the sale in May, although the exact number and specific models of helicopters were not known at the time and were still under negotiation. Another option under consideration was the sale of 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for an estimated value of $800 million.
The Czech Republic isn’t the only Central European country seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian-made military equipment and turning to the U.S. to modernize its ageing fleet of aircraft. In August, U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin won the tender to produce F-16 fighters jets for Slovakia’s armed forces in what has been slated as the country’s biggest-ever military purchase.