Czech Republic weighs order for Bell-made Venom, Viper helicopters

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WARSAW, Poland — The Czech Republic plans to purchase additional UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters for its military, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated that the country’s existing fleet is “insufficient” , according to Defense Minister Jana Černochová.

“At the Ministry of Defense, we have all the prerequisites to catch up with defense spending as quickly as possible,” Černochová said in a statement released by the ministry. The minister was referring to Prague’s plans to increase its military spending to 2% of the country’s gross domestic product, in line with its commitment to NATO.

During his recent meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Černochová spoke of the ministry’s interest in purchasing additional helicopters made by Bell Helicopters “because it turns out that the 12 machines that the Czech army will receive next year are insufficient due to the current situation”. Ukraine, according to the statement.

The number of helicopters the Czech Republic plans to acquire was not disclosed. However, local industry watchers expect Prague to buy 12 more helicopters on top of its first order.

In 2019, the Czech government decided to purchase eight UH-1Y Venom and four AH-1Z Viper helicopters with related equipment and services in a deal worth around 14.5 billion crowns ($645 million).

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Polish correspondent for Defense News.

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