The war in Ukraine has made the Czech government think twice about its procurement of the Bell UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters, Alert 5 reports.
The local government is now thinking of buying more helicopters as the four AH-1Z and eight UH-1Y helicopters that were ordered is now deemed insufficient to meet the country’s defense needs.
Bell Textron has started production of the first AH-1Z Viper for the Czech Republic at Bell’s Amarillo Assembly Center, the company said in a news release on Feb. 23. The production of the Viper joins UH-1Y production as part of the Czech Republic Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of mixed fleet aircraft.
“Bell understands what it means to execute a successful international program,” said Mike Deslatte, vice president and H-1 program director, Bell. “We understand the importance of providing the unmatched capability of the H-1 aircraft to our customers. Bell remains focused on producing exceptional combat aircraft and providing modern capabilities for the Czech Air Force as a partner in the H-1 program, along with the U.S. Government.”
Bell’s work beyond aircraft manufacturing includes building a flight training device for the Czech Republic, essential to integrating the new helicopters into the Czech Armed Forces.
Bell began production on the Czech Republic UH-1Y in 2021, marking the first production for an international operator of the UH-1Y. The Czech Republic’s purchase of both the AH-1Z and UH-1Y takes full advantage of the 85 percent commonality between parts and enabling full mission capabilities between both aircraft.
The commonality between the aircraft enabled critical component supply chains to remain active during AH-1Z production for the USMC.
In addition to the Czech Republic, Bell is actively producing AH-1Zs for the US Marines Corps and the Kingdom of Bahrain. In total, the H-1 program is on track to produce 217 AH-1Zs and 168 UH-1Ys, with more than 100 consecutive H-1s delivered on time for the USMC and FMS customers.
Photo credit: Czech Ministry of Defense
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