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Air Platforms

US clears Venom sale to Czech Republic

24 October 2017

The potential sale of Bell UH-1Y Venom utility and assault helicopters to the Czech Republic has been approved by the US State Department, it was announced on 23 October.

A model of the UH-1Y in Czech national colours at the signing of an MoU between Bell Helicopter and national industry in 2016. The potential sale of 12 such helicopters has now been approved by the US government. (IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings)A model of the UH-1Y in Czech national colours at the signing of an MoU between Bell Helicopter and national industry in 2016. The potential sale of 12 such helicopters has now been approved by the US government. (IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings)

The Foreign Military Sale (FMS), which is valued at USD575 million, covers 12 helicopters, mission equipment, spares, support, and training.

As noted by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) that announced the approval, the mission kit comprises FLIR Brite Star II electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensors; AN/AAR-47 missile warning and laser detection systems, AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispensing systems, and AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers; helmet-mounted displays; electronic warfare systems; as well as M134 GAU-17 7.62 mm Gatling guns, and M240 7.62 mm and M3M GAU-21 12.7 mm chain guns.

“The Czech Republic intends to use these helicopters to modernise its armed forces and strengthen its homeland defence and deter regional threats. This will contribute to the Czech Republic’s military goal of updating its capabilities while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other NATO allies,” the DSCA notification said.

The DSCA delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on 11 October.

The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic (Vzdusné Síly Armády Ceské Republiky: VS ACR) has a pressing need to replace many of its Warsaw Pact-era inventories, which include Mil Mi-2 'Hoplite', Mi-8/17 'Hip', and Mi-24 'Hind' helicopters. Approval of the sale comes about 17 months after Bell Helicopter signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Czech industry in support of the company’s push to secure a first export sale of the UH-1Y to the VS ACR.

Developed for the US Marine Corps (USMC) alongside the AH-1Z Viper gunship, with which it shares more than 80% commonality, the UH-1Y is billed chiefly as a utility platform that would be suitable as a Mi-8/17 replacement for the VS ACR.

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