Leonardo Helicopters and Lockheed Martin have confirmed their commitment to competing a future medium multirole helicopter requirement for the Czech Republic, following the recent announcement that the US government has cleared the potential sale of the Bell UH-1Y Venom to the country.
Both Leonardo Helicopters and Lockheed Martin re-affirmed to Jane’s on 28 October their continued interest in the Czech requirement to acquire an initial 12 new multirole helicopters to replace its ageing and increasingly unsupportable Warsaw Pact-era inventories.
While Leonardo’s AgustaWestland AW149 had previously been reported to be under consideration, a company representative said that its current offer is focused around the AW139M, noting; “Leonardo firmly believes that the AW139M-based [offers] full compliance with the Czech requirement, and a more comprehensive mission equipment package (including full icing protection and all weapon systems for effective close-air support), all with a significantly more competitive value.” The company added that its offer of industrial is “not negligible”, and will result in “significant taxpayer savings” for the country.
Lockheed Martin said: “We see a strong interest for an armed Black Hawk utility helicopter in a number of Central and East European countries, and are currently reviewing the Czech Republic’s specific requirements.” The Polish-built S-70i is reported by some sources to be a favoured option of the joint Army of the Czech Republic (Armáda Ceské Republiky: ACR), partly due to orders from its near-neighbours Poland and Slovakia, with Hungary expected to follow. Also, Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic is part of the Lockheed Martin-owned PZL Mielec supply chain, manufacturing cockpit assemblies for the S-70i.
Besides Leonardo’s and Lockheed Martin’s confirmed interest in the Czech requirement, Bell Helicopters’ participation was all but confirmed on 23 October with the announcement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) that the potential sale of 12 UH-1Y Venom helicopters had been approved by the US State Department.
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