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First Viper helos arrive in Czech Republic

One of the first two AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters being unloaded from a US Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft on 26 July. (Czech Ministry of Defence)

The first Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for the Czech Republic arrived in-country on 26 July, being airlifted from the United States aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.

The Czech Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the milestone, saying the first two Viper helicopters had been delivered, with four more arriving in September.

The Viper is being acquired by the Army of the Czech Republic (Armáda České republiky: AČR) alongside the Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter to replace the country's Warsaw Pact-era Mil Mi-2 ‘Hoplite', Mi-8/17 ‘Hip', and Mi-24 ‘Hind' rotorcraft.

In addition to four newbuild Vipers and eight newbuild Venoms, the US is providing mothballed airframes for a final fleet of 10 helicopters of each type.

The Czech Republic will soon be joined in fielding the AH-1Z by its neighbour, Slovakia, following the recent announcement that the US government would partly fund the transfer of 12 such helicopters in return for the country donating its MiG-29 fighters and Warsaw Pact-era ground-based air-defence systems to Ukraine.

The AH-1Z and UH-1Y share 84% parts and systems commonality (composite rotor blades, crashworthy seats, hydraulic components, fuel-system components, integrated avionics, more powerful General Electric T700-GE-401/C engines, and gearboxes), which translates into a smaller and cheaper logistical footprint, as well as superior interoperability.

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