Contract for US helicopter supply to be signed this year-minister |

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Contract for US helicopter supply to be signed this year-minister

Contract for US helicopter supply to be signed this year-minister

A contract for the supply of 12 U.S.-made helicopters to the Czech military is to be signed with the USA still before the end of the year, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) told reporters at the Days of NATO and the Czech Air Force in Mosnov.

The Czech Republic plans to buy 12 helicopters worth 14.5 billion crowns (17.6 billion VAT including) from the Bell company, which is to supply the machines in 2023.  

Metnar said the negotiations about the contract are close to finish and that he expexcts the contract with the USA to be signed by the end of the year.

The Defence Ministry decided on the purchase of Bell's H1 system comprised of eight UH-1Y Venom multipurpose helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper combat helicopters in August. The new machines are to replace the Czech military's outdated Mi-24/35s.

Metnar praised the compatibility of the two helicopter types' systems, which have 85 percent of spare parts identical, and also the systems' arms equipment and universal character.

"We are not buying helicopters only, we are buying a whole system," Metnar said, adding that the system also includes ammunition and training. Chief-of-Staff Ales Opata said the Bell helicopters are very mobile and their engines significantly efficient.

"Above all, they have something we are interested in - a complete weapon system enabling them to provide support for ground forces. You cannot do without combat or universal helicopters at a battlefield today," Opata said, adding that Venoms and Vipers usually fly in pairs to complement each other.

Opata said the military is going discuss the need to replace its Mi-17 and Mi-171 helicopters after 2030.

"We are looking forward for the young generation of university graduates to join the Air Force, attracted by the new machines, the new types of helicopters and the different flying system," Opata said.

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