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Czech Republic receives first AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.

| 2023

According to a tweet by the Czech Ministry of Defense on July 26, 2023, the 22nd Helicopter Base of the Czech Air Force received its first two AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters from the United States. The helicopters were transported to the base aboard a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane. In the coming weeks, the base is expected to receive four more helicopters, including two additional Vipers and the first two UH-1Y Venoms.

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Czech Republic welcomes first AH 1Z Viper Helicopters 925  Czech Republic welcomes first AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters (Picture source: Czech Republic MoD)

The delivery of the American helicopters is considered an important development in the modernization of the Czech Armed Forces, as it represents a shift from reliance on Russian equipment to adopting a more modern Western platform from a significant ally.

Accompanying the arrival of the helicopters, a group of American specialists also arrived in the Czech Republic. Over the next two weeks, they will work with their Czech counterparts to assemble and commission the helicopters. Together, they will also conduct test flights and carry out the certification process. Following this, a Mobile Training Team from the USA will arrive in August to provide training to the personnel of the 22nd Helicopter Base, scheduled to commence on September 1. The official presentation of the helicopters will take place on August 17 in Náměšť, with the participation of senior defense officials and military representatives.

The purchase of twelve new H-1 helicopters was previously agreed upon in 2019. Additionally, the Czech Republic will receive eight upgraded helicopters from the USA as a token of appreciation for providing assistance to Ukraine. This will bring the total number of UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters available to the Czech Armed Forces to ten each.

The AH-1Z Viper, produced by Bell Helicopters Textron, is an advanced attack helicopter armed with a 20mm three-barreled rotary cannon with a 650-round capacity. It can carry various weapons on six weapon stations, including Hellfire anti-tank missiles, HYDRA unguided rockets, APKWS laser-guided rockets, and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The Viper features an integrated avionics system with a "glass cockpit," providing the crew with essential flight data, weapon systems control, and situational awareness. The helicopter is equipped with third-generation electro-optical/infrared sensors and precise targeting capabilities.

The arrival of these advanced helicopters marks a new chapter for the Czech Air Force, enhancing its capabilities and readiness on the modern battlefield. The transition from Russian equipment to modern Western technology represents an important step forward for the country's defense forces.

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