On Thursday 12 December 2019, delegations led by Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar and Defence Secretary Mark Esper met in the Pentagon. Their primary agenda included the procurement of twelve U.S. made H-1 system helicopters for the Czech Armed Forces.
“We accepted the U.S. offer of a government-to-government contract for the procurement of eight UH-1Y Venom multirole and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and today we are finally signing the contract. It is an important milestone in the Czech-US relations. We will obtain modern and combat proven machines, increase our capabilities and reduce our dependence on Russian made equipment at the same time,” Minister Metnar stated.
“We are pleased that the Czech Republic chose our helicopters. They will increase the Czech Armed Forces’ capabilities and interoperability in NATO,” Secretary Esper said.
From the perspective of the Czech Air Force helicopter fleet, this is a decisive step into the 21st century. With the acquisition of the H-1 system, the Czech Armed Forces obtains new capabilities including technology. We have plans envisioning deployment of the new helicopters in the future,” said General Aleš Opata, the Chief of General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces.
The H-1 system used by the U.S. Marine Corps came out best from a market sounding study. This combination of Venom and Viper aircraft best meets the capabilities required for close air support, airlift and medical evacuation. In addition, both designs have 85% commonality.
The price of CZK 14.6 billion (excl. VAT) is the same as the one for which the United States Government would buy those helicopters for the U.S. armed forces. The contract is not just for the helos as such, but also weapons and ammunition, spare parts, a training simulator as well as type training for both pilots and ground specialist personnel.
We have again managed to negotiate a high involvement of the Czech industry. Our demand was for 30% of the contract value and the resulting percentage is even slightly higher, Minister Metnar commented.
The performance of the contract will involve the LOM Praha and VTÚ state enterprises, and Ray Service, Aero Vodochody and VR Group companies. The relevant agreements between those firms and the Bell Corporation were already signed.