The U.S. Department of Defense announced that Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Czech Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar met at the Pentagon to finalize the sale of H-1 helicopters.
The defense leaders took part in a ceremonial signing of the agreement today following a meeting in which they discussed their long-standing defense relationship as well as mutual security concerns, according to a defense official.
“We are privileged to support the Czech people and applaud the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of the Czech Republic for selecting AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters.” said Vince Tobin, Executive Vice President of Bell’s Military Business.
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.
“This mix allows the Czech Republic to accomplish a diverse mission set, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to close air support and air-to-air warfare,” said Joel Best, Director of Military Sales and Strategy, Europe. “The advanced capabilities of the H-1 program help ensure the safety and security of Czech sons and daughters for years to come.”
The purchase of four AH-1Z and eight UH-1Y military helicopters represents the first foreign military sale of a mixed H-1 fleet. Bell anticipates the delivery of the first H-1 aircraft to the Czech Republic will begin in 2023 and complete delivery by 2024.
The sale, which Esper said was a “historic moment,” totals about $650 million and is the Czech Republic’s largest military purchase from the U.S. The defense secretary said it is a step forward in the Czech Republic’s replacement of Russian helicopters with NATO interoperable equipment.
This procurement supports the National Defense Strategy objectives of strengthening alliances as well as countering Russian influence, highlights consolidated gains made over the past 30 years as the Czech Republic modernizes its armed forces and demonstrates the strength of the U.S.-Czech Republic defense relationship, a defense official said.
Both leaders said the U.S. and the Czech Republic share many security interests.
“We continue to stand united as NATO allies to deter an increasingly aggressive Russia. We will also continue to work together to address the threats and challenges posed by China, especially with regard to 5G technology,” Esper said. He noted the department’s appreciation for the Czech Republic’s leadership in calling attention to the security of 5G networks in Europe.