The US Navy has awarded Bell Textron a $22.5-million contract to provide local aircraft maintenance for the Czech Republic’s UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper military helicopters.
The two-year agreement will cover in-country engineering services for eight Venoms and four Vipers.
Work will be carried out in Náměšt and is expected to be completed by July 2026.
Maintenance for New Aircraft
The fleet receiving the maintenance replaces the Czech armed forces’ Mil Mi-171Š and Mi-35/24V combat helicopters purchased from Russia and PZL W-3 Sokół multipurpose helicopters from Poland.
These older aircraft were procured from the 1990s to early 2000s and are nearing obsolescence, as their service life is limited to approximately 20 years.
A plan to integrate modernized helicopters into the Czech defense was announced in 2019. The foreign military sale was later signed for $630 million, with Bell Textron serving as the primary contractor.
“The army needs new helicopters.The sooner we get rid of our dependence on Russian technology, the better. That is why we want to sign the contract this year so that by 2023 the helicopters will equip the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic,” Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar stated during the signing.
This agreement is the company’s first contract with an international customer for a mixed fleet of Venom and Viper helicopters.
“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,” Bell Textron Director Joel Best explained.
The government accepted the new fleet’s first helicopter in April 2023.
Additional Bell Helicopters
Last year, the Czech Republic declared its intent to buy additional Bell helicopters to replenish its stocks following military aid to Ukraine.
The same year, the US committed eight combat and multipurpose helicopters in response to Prague’s requirements.