Italian Leonardo challenging helicopter deal with Bell



17. 12. 2019 • 09:00

The Italian firm Leonardo has asked the Czech anti-trust office (UOHS) to start checking the order of the Defence Ministry for the purchase of 12 helicopters, UOHS spokesman Martin Svanda said, adding that the office has already started its administrative proceedings.


Leonardo's bid was cheaper than that of the winning U.S. Bell, with which the Defence Ministry signed the contract last week. This week, the Defence Ministry wants to send the first instalment of 850 million crowns to Bell.

Last week, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (ANO) labelled the Italian's planned steps as outrageous and dishonest.

The Czech Republic will pay 646 million dollars for the helicopters, which is 14.74 billion crowns without VAT. In the Czech military equipment, the helicopters will replace the outdated Russian combat helicopters Mi-24/35.

The Czech air force will acquire eight UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The supply is scheduled for 2023.

During the preparation for the purchase, the Czech Republic was also considering buying Italian helicopters Agusta AW 139M from Leonardo, the price of which was considerably lower according to experts.

However, experts also said it had not fulfilled the military's demand to be tested in action.

Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) said only the United States offered a battle-tested utility military helicopter with certified armament and a government-to-government purchase.

He said the Czech Republic is a fully sovereign state and when its government decides to purchase these helicopters in this way, "it is absolutely outrageous for a private company to torpedo this contract." He added that the government proceeded in harmony with both Czech and European legislation.

The combination of both helicopters allows to fulfil various missions from humanitarian and rescue ones up to air force support.