New positioning systems for the Czech AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters
Prague is preparing to upgrade its Bell AH-1Z Viper and Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters. The upgrade will include integration of Honeywell Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems [EGIs] w/Precise Positioning Service [PPS]. Washington announced the prospective sale, with the transaction price being around $650 million. This value may change in the future, reports the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA].
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The Czech Republic expects the delivery of eight UH-1Y helicopters. Prague is expected to train two more helicopters of this model at no cost. Most likely, by the end of 2024, Prague will receive the entire amount. Besides the Czech Republic, the USA is the other country that operates this model of helicopter.
Replacing Mil Mi-24
The Czech Republic decided to purchase the UH-1Y and AH-1Z from Bell in 2019. This was good news for the American company, as it ensured that production of these two models would continue until at least 2024. Prague is trying to replace the Soviet Mil Mi-24 gunships.
The decision years ago for the Czech Republic to equip itself with the UH-1Y and AH-1Z has a serious budgetary advantage, especially in the long term. The two Bell “H” family helicopters share at least 85% similar components, spare parts and equipment. This conscientiousness allows the military in Prague to save on future logistics and maintenance costs. Training costs will also be reduced.
In addition to receiving precision positioning systems, Washington will supply Prague with 22 T-700 GE 401C engines. Six of them will be spares, as required by the Czechs. Four M240 machine guns and 24 ARC-210 COMSEC radios are also included in the delivery package.
Bell and General Electric
The two helicopters are important for the Czech defense. They have capabilities to counter land, sea and air targets. For example, the AH-1Z is equipped with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. This makes it the only helicopter in production to feature such firepower.
Bell Helicopter, Textron, Fort Worth, Texas, and General Electric Company, Lynn, Mass., will be the lead manufacturers in the $650 million deal. The price also includes the secondment of American experts to help the Czech partners in the integration and training of the new air platforms.
The AH-1Z Viper is an attack helicopter, while the UH-1Y Venom is a utility helicopter. Their task will be to smoothly take over combat duty from the aging Soviet Mil Mi-24s. The Czech Republic currently has 11 of these Soviet helicopters.
Military observers and weapons experts say the Czech Republic’s willingness to contribute the UH-1Y means Prague has given up on acquiring 12 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks. In 2019, before Prague chose the two Bell helicopters, there were claims that the Czech government was interested in Sikorsky products. At the time, the cost of the 12 Sikorsky helicopters, along with armament and training, was estimated to be in the range of $1 billion.
With its decision to purchase the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Bell UH-1Y Venom, the Czech Republic continues its military modernization plan. At the same time, DSCA says that this sale will not only help the Czech Republic to ensure its security, but also the US, as it improves the security of a NATO member state.
The AH-1Z helicopter has increased combat capabilities since the beginning of last year. BulgarianMilitary.com announced in February 2022 that the US Marines conducted interesting tests with this helicopter.
At the Yuma Test Range, Arizona, US Marines from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One [VMX-1] successfully integrated a JAGM air-to-surface missile. After integration, the AH-1Z helicopter fired eight JAGMs, hitting eight targets. They were lightly and heavily armored vehicles.
Even then, military experts claimed that the ability to fire JAGMs missiles used by the AH-1Z significantly improved the combat capability of American helicopters. We remind you that this type of missile has sensor technologies. This significantly optimizes the helicopters’ performance against ground targets.
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