Bell Textron Inc. is awarded a fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract, worth around $272 million, for the production and delivery of eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters for the government of the Czech Republic.
The sale is being conducted under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and the contract was awarded by the U.S. Department of the Navy (DON)’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
According to the Pentagon contract announcement, the contract work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (60%); and Amarillo, Texas (40%), and is expected to be completed in November 2023.
Bell AH-1Z Viper/ UH-1Y Venom
Bell AH-1Z Viper is an American twin-engine attack helicopter and UH-1Y Venom (also called Super Huey) is a twin-engine, medium-sized utility helicopter. The helicopters are based on AH-1W SuperCobra and UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters and were developed by Bell under the H-1 upgrade program of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).
Even though superficially different from each other, the helicopters have 84% parts commonality. The UH-1Y and AH-1Z share a common tailboom, engines (twin General Electric T700-GE-401C yurboshafts), four-blade composite main rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software, controls, and display.
Czech UH-1Y/AH-1Z Procurement
The Czech Republic was considering either 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky division or a mixed fleet of UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to replace its ageing Mi-24 attack/troop transport helicopter fleet.
The sale of 12 UH-1Y utility helicopters to the Czech Republic was approved by the U.S. State Department in October 2017 while the sale of four AH-1Z attack helicopters, along with 12 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters was approved in May this year.
In August 2019, Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar announced that the country will go ahead with the purchase of eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters, along with support and weaponry.
In December 2019, Czech Republic has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the U.S. to procure four AH-1Z and eight UH-1Y helicopters. The LOA was inked by U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and Czech Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar.