Czech Republic Will Acquire New Helicopters. More Than It Was Initially Planned

11 sierpnia 2015, 17:21

As the Czech Republic is planning to increase the level of defence spending, Prague is going to quantitatively expand its order, the aim of which is to acquire the new helicopters. Czechs are going to procure 12 light multi-purpose helicopters, with 30 to 35 rotor-craft to be acquired in overall, in order to replace the Mi-24, Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters which are being currently withdrawn. At the same time, Czech Ministry of Defence announced that the authorities are not going to resign from the modernization programme pertaining the Polish-made W-3A Sokół rotorcraft.

As the Czech Republic is planning to increase the level of defence spending (up to 1.4% of GDP in 2020), Prague is going to quantitatively expand its order, the aim of which is to acquire the new helicopters. 12 light multi-role helicopters are to be acquired first. The rotor-craft are going to be delivered at the end of 2017, or at the beginning of 2018. According to the Czech Ministry of Defence, the above would constitute only the initial stage of acquisition of the new helicopters.

Ultimately 30-35 examples are going to be purchased, which will enable Prague to withdraw 17 Mi-24W/35 attack helicopters and cut down the number of the Mi-8 craft remaining in the active service. Currently, 25 examples of the latter helicopters remain in service, in three following variants: Mi-8 (4 examples), Mi-17 (5 examples) and Mi-171Sh (16 examples).

The newly acquired rotor-craft are to be of Western origin. The Czech Ministry of Defence announced that due to the bad experiences gathered, when contracts with large companies were signed, the new helicopters are going to be procured on the basis of an inter-governmental memorandum, similarly as it happened in case of the Czech Gripen fighters leasing contract. Prague submitted the relevant requests to the US, French and Italian governments. Territories of the above-mentioned countries are a place where the largest Western helicopter manufacturers are based, including the following companies: Bell Helicopters, Sikorsky, Airbus Helicopters and AgustaWestland.

At the same time, Prague did not resign from modernizing the ten Polish W-3A Sokół helicopters which are currently undergoing a process, the aim of which is to expand their service life. This is going to make it possible for the W-3A helicopters to carry out their SAR and MEDEVAC tasks throughout the upcoming years.

(AH)

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