Military is shopping. Czech Republic to acquire US helicopters |

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Military is shopping. Czech Republic to acquire US helicopters

Military is shopping. Czech Republic to acquire US helicopters

Earlier this week the Czech Ministry of Defence has finally approved the purchase of helicopters for the Czech military. The deal underwent quite a long decision-making process. The almost CZK15 billion worth contract has been concluded with an American manufacturer – Bell. As a result, the military will receive eight UH-1Y Venom multipurpose helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. As with other military orders, a third of the volume of the contractor's work will be carried out by the local Czech manufacturers in the Czech Republic. The military will be able to use the helicopters as of 2023. made an exclusive interview with Joel Best, Director of Business Development in Europe.

How many orders from abroad does the Bell military division have?

Bell and the USMC have completed two international sales for the H-1 Team. Pakistan and Bahrain both purchased the AH-1Z only at this time. The Czech Republic is the first international partner to procure both the AH-1Z and UH-1Y.  Bell and the USMC are actively working with nations around the world with interest in the H-1 program.

The government decided yesterday to buy the Venom. Can you explain, please, why there has been no mention of the Viper?

The most recent announcement on the selection of the UH-1Y and AH-1Z is a direct result of a highly competent and focused team matching the best aircraft for the requirements and needs of the nation.

What does the yesterday´s Czech government decision mean to you?

It proves that the Czech Republic is a leader and not a follower.  The evaluation team understands the H-1 team are more than just the most capable combat multi-role and dedicated attack helicopters in the world.  They examined total life cycle cost, operational readiness, battlefield stamina and both current and future requirements.  Your nation is the first to successfully adopt the full spectrum benefits of the H-1 team.  

What makes your helicopters better than the others? What are their strengths?

The DNA of Bell and our aircraft demonstrate we are more than just a helicopter manufacturer.  We focus on the customer experience and leverage the latest in technology to exceed customer expectations both commercially and for our military customers.  Our military aircraft are designed for the rigor of combat.

 The H-1 team share over 85% commonality this is unmatched in industry.  The Viper and Venom team when fought together optimize more than superior weapons, sensors and durability.  The team is speed matched to harmonize mission planning and execution.  Even the emergency procedures and limitations are identical.

Is the Czech military a partner for Bell? What other contract in the Czech Republic would you be interested in?

Bell will remain engaged in Czech Republic well into the future. Our commercial European center of excellence can be found on Vaclav Havel airport near Terminal 3. The Czech police were the first user of the Bell 412 EPI and our 429 and 407 aircraft are in use across Czech and Slovakia.  I believe Bell’s 525 which is completing certification would be an outstanding aircraft the the Ministry of Interior. Bell’s parent company Textron has a plethora of current and future products that would serve Czech very well.

The Visegrad Four countries said a few days ago that they wanted to buy ammunition and organize military purchases together. Is this a reasonable measure in your opinion? And, if so, in what way?

There are provisions within NATO that encourage nations to team and work together known as Smart Defence.  I believe the H-1 team is the best solution for all V-4 nations when it comes to their helicopter requirements.  We welcome other platforms for inclusion such as our Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.  Bell is also leading Future Vertical Lift with our V-280 Valor, V-247 Vigilant and our newest clean sheet aircraft the 360 Invictus.

Do you think this acquisition is important for other NATO countries also?

Yes, as mentioned previously Czech Republic is a leader.  They just purchased the most advanced, lethal, affordable and sustainable aircraft team in production.  The diligent efforts of the evaluation team dug deeply into operationalization and sustainment.  The Czech evaluation team should be commended for buying a total package capability not just a helicopter.

Do you take into account that the average height and width of the crew and team members will change over the course of 30 years? When I was visiting a factory producing tanks, they told me that today's soldiers wouldn't fit into those thirty-year-old tanks because of a change in body proportions. They are much taller and wider. To what extent can be the seats and other helicopter equipment modified?

United States Marines both men and women come in many sizes as does the Czech Air Force.  The H-1 team will accommodate them well.  Regardless of the weapon system or aircraft some people are too large or too small to operate them.  In the US we do a system of anthropometric measurements to ensure future operators wont have issues.

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