Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic and the United States have reached an inter-governmental agreement for the sale of 12. U.S.-made military helicopters to the Czech Armed Forces.
The purchase was announced by both the Czech and U.S. Defence Ministries last week following a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington.
According to the 14.6 billion Kc-deal signed by the two NATO allies, the Czech Republic will purchase 12 military helicopters manufactured by U.S. company Bell: eight UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.
Czech Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar lauded the agreement as “an important milestone in Czech-American relations” that will help Prague “reduce its dependence on Russian technology”. The U.S. aircraft are meant to replace the ageing Russian-made attack helicopters Mi-24/35 currently operated by the Czech army.
He also welcomed the fact that the Czech Republic’s industrial sector will be involved in the manufacturing process and benefit from more than 30% of the contract’s value.
The deal penned by the U.S. and Czech governments also includes other equipment, a training simulator and conversion training for Czech technical personal and pilots. Both sides expect the Bell-manufactured helicopters to be used for foreign missions in the coming years.
“First of all, it signals the Czech Republic’s commitment to modernizing its armed forces”, U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said. “Secondly, it reaffirms another major step forward in the cooperation between our two countries. And third: It marks the Czech Republic’s continuing commitment to NATO. So I think this is a very positive event and I’m glad that we could do this and I hope we can do more”.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper also showed signs of appreciation for the Czech Republic’s involvement in foreign missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Baltic states, and stated that both countries were allies in combating an “increasingly aggressive Russia”.
Ales Opata, chief of staff of the Czech Armed Forces, praised the deal as “a step into the 21st century”, Radio Praha reported.
The 12 American helicopters are due to be delivered to the Czech Republic by the end of 2023, according to official sources.