After seven months of intensive retraining, a group of pilots and flight technicians returned to their home base in Námešte, Czech. They were retrained on the new types of UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters at the US Marine Corps Base Pendleton. The helicopters will be received by the Námešte base as part of the intergovernmental agreement between the Czech Republic and the United State during this spring. After the initial theoretical training, which ended with the tests, flight training followed. Training initially focused on basic maneuvers and progressed to instrument, group, ground level, undercarriage and crane flights.
The highlights were flights to fire on ground targets with cannon and unguided rockets, as well as flights at night with night vision goggles. On-board technicians tried shooting from the helicopter door with mounted weapons (minigun and 50 cal). The flight part ended with a test, in which the entire group passed and all pilots subsequently received the PQM (Pilot Qualified in Model) certificate. In total, each pilot flew approximately 80 hours. The training took place in Southern California. Mostly in the airspace of Camp Pendleton and its surrounding area, with the exception of a fortnight’s deployment to the El Centro desert base near the border with Mexico.
The U.S. and Czech Republic recently signed a letter of offer and acceptance formalizing the foreign military sale by Bell of UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters to the Czech Air Force. Included in the deal are four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and eight UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. They are the most-modern, twin-engine, four-bladed versions of the AH-1 Cobra and UH-1 Huey. Bell anticipates the delivery of the first H-1 aircraft to the Czech Republic will begin in 2023 and be completed by 2024. The deal is part of a larger $1 billion FMS purchase approved by the U.S. State Department in May.
The H-1 mixed fleet shares 85-percent commonality between parts, reducing the logistics, maintenance, and training costs of the AH-1Z and UY-1Y helicopters, while offering a lethal combination of integrated weapons systems to counter ground, air, and maritime targets effectively. The AH-1Z is the only helicopter in production equipped with the AIM-9 Sidewinder providing the most advanced air-to-air combat capabilities. The Czech Republic will become the third foreign military sales customer for the UH-1Y/AH-1Z, but the first NATO country to fly the updated Huey and/or Cobra, which are manufactured by Bell with 85 percent commonality.