The United States will donate six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters as well as two UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters to the Czech Republic under its excess defense articles program.
This was first revealed by the Czech Republic defense minister Jana Černochová in a television interview on August 18.
The US embassy in Prague subsequently confirmed this, providing information on the types of helicopters that will be sent. The embassy also said that the Czech Republic would only pay for the helicopters’ modernization and subsequent transport to the country.
The Vipers and Venoms will be joining eight newly-built Viper and Venom helicopters built under a 2020 contract with Bell worth around $506 million. The first of the new helicopters is expected to be handed over in 2023, with deliveries set to complete by 2024. The Czech Republic will also be receiving Hellfire and Sidewinder missiles for the helicopters.
In total, the Czech Air Force will receive 20 American helicopters to replace outdated Soviet Mi-35/24Vs, eight of which have been in service since 2003.
News on the transfer of the excess US military helicopters also follows the country’s confirmation of its intent to purchase the Lockheed Martin built F-35A in July this year.
A total of 24 F-35 Lightning II aircraft are expected to complement and eventually succeed the 14-strong Gripen fleet currently in service with the Czech Air Force.