Czech Republic expands helicopter requirement

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Czech Republic expands helicopter requirement
Jiri Kominek, Prague - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
06 August 2015


The Czech military is planning to take advantage of an increase to its budget by replacing not just its Mi-24 'Hind' attack helicopters but also its Mi-8/Mi-17 'Hip' utility helicopters. Source: Army of the Czech Republic

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) has expanded plans to acquire new light helicopters for the Army of the Czech Republic (ACR).

The MoD initially planned to procure 12 light multirole helicopters from a Western manufacturer, however, ministry officials have disclosed that a substantial increase to the defence budget means the number of aircraft to be procured could reach 30-35 over the next two- to three-year period.

"The procurement of 12 [light] helicopters will only be the start. It will be the first phase of the entire [modernisation] programme," Deputy Defence Minister for Procurement Daniel Kostoval told media on 4 August.

The MoD plans to retire its fleet of 17 Russian-made Mil Mi-24 'Hind' attack helicopters and most of its fleet of 25 Russian-made Mil Mi-8/17 'Hip' medium transport helicopters in the coming years.

According to the ACR helicopter modernisation programme, the MoD plans to retain all 10 Polish-made PZL Swidnik W-3A Sokol light helicopters serving in the utility and SAR/Medevac roles. The W-3As are currently undergoing mid-life extension upgrades.

The MoD has made it clear it plans to procure new helicopters via a government-to-government process similar to that used to lease 14 Saab Gripen fighter aircraft from the Swedish government.

"We have had bad experiences in dealing with large companies in the past. It is better if they are controlled and pressured by the governments [in the countries in which they are headquartered]," said Kostoval.

As well as procuring new helicopters Kostoval added that the MoD is insisting that a potential supplier provide all parts and associated equipment, as well as training for flight crews and ground personnel to be provided by the military of the seller country that operates such helicopters in its own fleet.

The MoD sent bid invitations at the end of June to the governments of the United States, France, and Italy where Bell Helicopters, Sikorsky, Airbus Helicopters and AugustaWestland are respectively headquartered.

The three governments have until the first half of September to submit bids. The MoD would like to start receiving the first batch of aircraft at the end of 2017 or start of 2018.
Czech Republic expands helicopter requirement - IHS Jane's 360
 

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