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Czech Republic cleared to buy UH-60M Black Hawk or AH-1Z Viper helicopters

The U.S. State Department approved the sale to the Czech Republic of either 12 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters or four AH-1Z attack helicopters plus UH-1Y utility helicopters, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in two releases dated May 3.

The procurement will replace its aging Russian Mi-24 helicopters, and the sale will “contribute to the Czech Republic’s military goal of updating its capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and NATO allies,” the DSCA said.

12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for $800 million

The proposed sale of 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters includes 12 M261 Rocket Launchers and 114 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) rocket guidance systems, 24 M240H machine guns, 24 M134D Mini Guns, 12 GAU-19B Machine Guns and 12 GP-19 Machine Gun Pods, and other equipment, weapons and ammunition, along with training, spares, and support, and is estimated at $800 million.

The principal contractors will be Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky and General Electric, and there are no known offset agreements in connection with the potential sale.

The ubiquitous Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter which entered U.S. Army service in 1979. The UH-60 family has been exported to at least 26 nations, and Black Hawks have been deployed in combat around the world, including in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans and Afghanistan.

AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter
A US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter during an offensive air support exercise at Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Arizona, April 11, 2017. Image: US Marine Corps/Cpl. AaronJames B. Vinculado

Four AH-1Z attack helicopters for $205 million

The proposed sale of four AH-1Z attack helicopters includes 14 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, M197 20mm machine guns and other equipment, along with training, spares, and support, and is estimated at $205 million.

The principal contractors will be Textron’s Bell Helicopter and General Electric, and there are no known offset agreements in connection with the potential sale.

The AH-1Z Viper is the latest in the long line of Huey family helicopters. The twin-engine attack helicopter is based on the AH-1W SuperCobra developed for the U.S. Marine Corps and features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, upgraded avionics and a new target sighting system.

It first flew on December 8, 2000.

US Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter
A US Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter maneuvers during a Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on September 26, 2017. Image: US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Brennon A. Taylor

The number of UH-1Y utility helicopters to be purchased alongside the AH-1Zs was not specified, but in October 2017, the U.S. State Department approved the estimated $575 million sale of 12 UH-1Y utility helicopters.

The Bell UH-1Y Venom, is another recent member of the Huey helicopter family. Sometimes called the Super Huey, it is a twin-engine, medium-sized utility helicopter, built for the U.S. Marine Corps. It entered service in 2008, and was planned to replace the USMC’s fleet of 1970s-vintage UH-1N Twin Huey light utility helicopters, which were retired in 2014.

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