Prime Minister Andrej Babiš today visited the 22nd helicopter base at Sedlec, near Náměšť nad Oslavou. Accompanied by Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar, the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, General Aleš Abbata, and Air Force Commander Major General Petr Hromek, he became acquainted with the activities of the base, aviation technology and its tasks.
In addition to inspecting the Mi-24/35, Mi-171Š and W-3A Sokol currently used by Czech soldiers, the main goal of the visit was to discuss the twelve new helicopters whose acquisition is one of the main strategic armament projects.
“I was acquainted in detail with the acquisition of new helicopters. It should be four battle and eight transport modern machines. Soldiers need them. We want to make the purchase as soon as possible. Deliveries should start in 2023,” said Prime Minister Babiš.
“We reviewed the offers received, and based on military recommendations, we decided on a buy that includes eight UH-1Y Venom multi-purpose helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. We would like to conclude the contract by the end of the year,” said Minister Metnar.
“Based on the recommendations of the expert committee, we have assessed that the system that is named H-1, which is a combination of Venom and Viper helicopters, looks best. This configuration offers all the capabilities we required,” added General Opata.
The contract is worth 14.5 billion crowns (approx. €560 million at today’s rate—Ed.). The price includes helicopters, weapons equipment, ammunition, maintenance and training of personnel.
After completing the necessary procedural steps within the Ministry of Defense, Lubomír Metnar will submit a proposal to conclude the government-to-government contract to the Czech government.
Two offers for the purchase of helicopters were received by the Department from the US government in late June. Americans offered either 12 multipurpose helicopters UH-60M Black Hawk, or eight multipurpose machines UH-1Y Venom along with four combat AH-1Z Viper.
The new Bell machines, which are used by the US Marine Corps as a comprehensive combat system, meet three basic military requirements - fire support of ground forces, transport of soldiers and transport of the wounded.
The equipment will gradually replace the Russian-supplied Mi-24/35 helicopters.