US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper 169254 ‘YP-42’ assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) takes off from the USS John P Murtha (LPD 26) on March 16. The AH-1Z is one of the types being considered by the Czech Republic to replace its Mi-34/35 fleet. USMC/Lance Cpl Jason Monty
US STATE Department approval has been granted for possible Foreign Military Sales to the Czech Republic of the Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk or Bell AH-1Z Viper, both of which are being considered as replacements for the Vzdušné síly Armády České Republiky (Air Component of the Army of the Czech Republic) Mi-24V/35 attack helicopter fleet. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced approval for both options on May 3, stating that it had also delivered the required certification notifying Congress of these possible sales on the same day.
The Government of Czech Republic has requested to buy four AH-1Zs, eight T700-GE-701D engines (installed), eight Honeywell Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGI) and Precise Positioning Service (PPS) (installed), and 14 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. Also included in the proposed sale would be communication equipment, electronic warfare systems, M197 20mm machine guns, Target Sight System, support equipment, spare engine containers, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, plus other related elements of logistics and programme support. The total estimated programme cost is $205 million.
The alternative option is a request to buy 12 UH-60Ms, with 28 T700-GE-701D engines (24 installed and four spares), 29 H-764GU Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation and Country Unique SAASM (24 installed and five spares), 24 M240H machine guns, 114 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS), and 15 AN/AAR-57(V)3 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) (12 installed and three spares). Also included would be four Aviation Mission Planning Systems (AMPS), 29 AN/ARC-231 UHF/VHF Radios with RT-1808A, 29 AN/ARC-201D SINCGARS Airborne Radios System with RT-1478D, 15 AN/ARC-220(V)3 HF Radio, 12 Federated Advanced Navigation System (FANS) with RNP/RNAV, 15 AN/APX-123 IFF with Mode 4/5 Transponder (12 installed and three spares), 15 AN/ARN-147(V) (12 installed and three spares), 15 AN/ARN-149(V) Automatic Digital Frequency (12 installed and three spares), 15 Tactical Airborne Navigation System (TACAN) AN/ARN-153 (12 installed and three spares), 15 AN/APR-39C(V)l/4 Radar Warning Receiver, 15 AN/AVR-2B(V) Laser Warning System (12 installed and three spares), 60 Military Grade AN/AVS-6 Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), four EBC-406HM Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), Aircraft Wireless Intercom System (AWIS), 48 Machine Gun Mounts, 24 M134D Mini Gun, 4,000 M-134 Inert Training Rounds, 24 M-134 Power Supply Pack, 12 GP-19 Machine Gun Pods, 12 GAU-19B Machine Guns, 24 M-134 Power Supply Pack, 144 M-134 Spare Barrels, 4,000 M-134 Training Rounds, 12 M-134 Mount Systems, 12 Packaging Crating and Handling Mount System in Support of M-134, 12 M261 Rocket Launchers, 100,000 7.62mm 4 Ball M80 1 Tracer M62 Linked, 501,000 Cartridge 7.62mm 4 Ball 1 Tracer, 10,000 Cartridge 50 Caliber Ball, 10,000 50 Caliber 4 Ball 1 Tracer, 10,000 Cartridge 50 Caliber 4 Armor Piercing Incendiary 1 Armor Piercing Incendiary Tracer Linked, 300 Cartridge 25.4mm Decoy M839, four Cartridge Impulse CCU-92/A, 384 Rocket 2.75in High Explosive Warhead M151 Fuze M423 Motor MK66-4, 240 Warhead 2.75in Rocket M151HE, 180 Rocket Motor 2.75in Mk66-4, 400 Flare Aircraft Countermeasure M206, Two Airborne Command and Control Systems includes three PRC-117s (two as line-of-sight and one as beyond line-of-sight), one iridium phone, one ROVER 4 (to UAS), DAGAR (GPS)), 12 AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeter, 24 Upturned Exhaust System, 13 MX-10D EO/IR Sensor with Laser Designator (12 and one spare), 13 IZLED 200 PIR Laser (12 installed and one spare), 30 User Data Modules (UDM) for Common Missile Warning System (CMWS), Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) Classified Software Updates, Machine Gun Component Spare Parts, Operation Mission Data Set (MDS) in support of the AN/APR-39C(V)l/4, 12 AN/AVS-7 Heads-Up Display, aircraft warranty, air worthiness support, calibration services, spare and repair parts, support equipment, communication equipment, weapons, ammunition, night vision devices, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training devices, site surveys, tool and test equipment, U. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, plus other related elements of logistical and programme support. The total estimated programme cost is $800 million.
The Czech Republic has been seeking a replacement for its Hinds for several years and had previously planned to retire them in 2017 and 2018. With no decision on a new attack helicopter, partly due to a change in government following elections in October 2017, it was forced to keep them in service. Several other helicopters have been considered for the requirement, with the Airbus Helicopters H145M, Bell UH-1Y Venom and Leonardo AW139M having previously been offered. A proposed FMS deal for 12 UH-1Ys has already been approved by Congress and the DSCA notified Congress of the possible sale on October 11, 2017. As the requirement is for 12 helicopters, it is expected that should the AH-1Z Viper option be selected, eight UH-1Ys would be purchased along with the four Vipers. The change in government led to the new Defence Minister effectively restarting the selection process again from scratch, but the issue of a formal tender is still awaited.
The current fleet comprises ten Mi-35s and six Mi-24Vs, all of which are operated by 221 Letka Bitevnich Vrtulniku (221 Attack Helicopter Squadron) at Namest nad Oslavu.