The United States plans to provide eight helicopters from Bell to the Czech Republic as a means of helping the Army of the Czech Republic (ACR) to field more NATO-standard equipment and thereby accelerate its transformation. The announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Prague on August 18 noted that the helicopters will be provided free of charge, with the Czech Republic only incurring costs for their upgrades and transportation.
S potěšením potvrzujeme převod 6 vrtulníků AH-1Z a 2 vrtulníků UH-1Y do 🇨🇿 v rámci programu Excess Defense Articles. Díky němu bude 🇨🇿 platit pouze za modernizaci a transfer strojů. Společně činíme naši alianci výkonnější a více schopnou podporovat 🇺🇦 v jejím boji za svobodu! https://t.co/S8udwj4l8I
— U.S. Embassy Prague 🇺🇸🇨🇿 (@USEmbassyPrague) August 18, 2022
The helicopters in question are six AH-1Z Viper twin-engine attack helicopters and two UH-1Y Venom twin-engine medium-size utility helicopters (also referred to as Super Hueys). These are being provided under the U.S. Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, through which surplus U.S. military hardware is donated to allied partners to enable them to modernize their respective inventories.
The Czech Republic entered the NATO Alliance in 1999 laden with Warsaw Pact-legacy, Soviet-era hardware. Since then, Prague has very slowly looked to wean its armed forces off this equipment in order to modernize them, eliminate dependency on Russia for the upgrade of these systems, and increase interoperability with its allies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February prompted the Czech government to transfer stocks of its old weaponry and Russian-sourced systems to the Ukrainian military.
As a result, the Czech military needs to backfill lost capabilities. The latest donation will come on top of an earlier government-to-government order for 12 Bell H-1 helicopters (four AH-1Zs and eight UH-1Ys) finalized on December 13, 2019. Deliveries of these helicopters will run from 2023-2024.
Under the two programs, the ACR will eventually field 20 Bell H-1s, split equally between AH-1Z and UH-1Y configurations.