As part of the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme, the Pentagon decided to transfer eight former US Marine Corps (USMC) helicopters, six Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and two Bell UH-1Y Venom multipurpose helicopters, to the Vzdušné síly armády České republiky (CzAF, Czech Air Force).
The helicopters will be donated to the CzAF, the Czechs will only need to pay for the costs of upgrading and delivering of the helicopters. The US Embassy in the Czech Republic emphasized that this donation is a “bonus” due to the fact that the Czech Republic donated two Mi-24V attack Helicopters to Ukraine.
According to a publication in The Wall Street Journal dated May 2022, Czechia has seven Mi-24 and ten Mi-35s attack helicopters ready for transfer to Ukraine under one important condition, the delivery of the newly ordered UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters needed to be accelerated.
In September 2020, the CzAF ordered four AH-1Z Vipers and eight UH-1Y Venoms. In July 2021, the Bell Textron Inc. Amarillo Assembly Center (TX) started the production of the first UH-1Y followed by the production of the first AH-1Z in February 2022. All work is expected to be completed by November 2023.
It has not been reported when the additional ex USMC helicopters will be delivered, but in the end the CzAF will have a fleet of ten AH-1Z Vipers and ten UH-1Y Venoms.
Photo by Rob van Disseldorp (Scramble Archive)