Washington will donate six second-hand AH-1Z and two UH-1Y helicopters to Czech Republic, the US embassy in Prague said, in what the Czech defence minister said was recognition of the NATO country’s aid to Ukraine.
According to Reuters, the Czechs are looking at speeding up the modernisation of their army away from Soviet-era equipment including their helicopter fleet, and have donated excess hardware to Ukraine.
Friday’s daily Hospodarske Noviny quoted Defence Minister Jana Cernochova as saying “It is being shown that our clear and unwavering stance since the start of Russian invasion to Ukraine is paying off.”
“Not only we gained respect of our allies due to our efforts in helping Ukraine, but we also received their support in modernising our army.”
The helicopters come on top of 12 previously ordered and will be for free, except for costs of transfer and upgrades.
“We confirm with pleasure the transfer of 6 AH-1Z a 2 UH-1Y under the Excess Defense Articles programme,” the US embassy said on Twitter on Aug. 18, 2022.
The transfer means the Czech Republic will have 10 AH-1Z Viper attack and 10 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. The previously ordered aircraft are due to arrive in 2023.
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’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.
Photo credit: Czech Ministry of Defense
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