The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a major rearmament process in some European NATO countries.
Without a doubt, one of the most ambitious rearmament programs is the one being carried out by Poland. The Czech Republic, a smaller country with smaller armed forces, has also started a major weapons purchase program, which includes 77 main battle tanks Leopard 2A8, 170 CV90 MkIV infantry fighting vehicles, 68 Pandur II armored vehicles, 62 Caesar 155mm self-propelled howitzers, 24 Jackal HMT 400 special operations vehicles and other materials whose complete list you can see at Oryxspioenkop.com
As for the Czech Air Force, it will replace its JAS-39 Gripen fighters with 24 F-35A stealth fighters, in addition to acquiring 4 Aero L-39NG trainers, 2 Embraer C-390 Millennium transport airplanes, 10 UH-10Y Venom utility helicopters and 10 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, the most recent variant of the famous AH-1 Huey Cobra from the Vietnam War era.
The Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic has reported the arrival today of the first two AH-1Z Vipers, aboard a US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The helicopters arrived a little before noon at the 22nd Air Base of the Czech Air Force in Náměšť nad Oslavou.
These first two Czech AH-1Z Vipers are 0486, which has arrived with the main rotor folded, and 0487, which had the main rotor removed, due to limited space inside the C-17. Together with the helicopters, a large group of American specialists has arrived, who, together with their Czech colleagues, will complete the helicopters, put them into operation and put them into flight in the next two weeks. Thus, the Czech Republic becomes the first European operator of the Viper.
The US personnel who have arrived with these two helicopters will also carry out the aircraft certification process. In addition, during the month of August, a mobile team will arrive from the US to the Czech Republic training center, which will begin training air personnel at the 22nd Air Helicopter Base on September 1.
The Czech Ministry of Defense has announced that the official presentation of the helicopters will take place in Náměšť nad Oslavou on August 17, with the participation of the Minister of Defence, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and other representatives of the department and the Czech Army.
Czech AH-1Z Vipers are decked out in a beautiful tri-color camouflage, two-tone gray and olive green, and wear their national cockades on the low-visibility version.
The AH-1Z Vipers will replace the 11 Mil Mi-24 and Mi-35 of Soviet origin owned by the Czech Air Force, after the delivery of 4 of these helicopter gunships to Ukraine as military aid against the Russian invasion. "Compared to the Russian Mi-24, the machines are also incomparably simpler in terms of maintenance", the Czech Defense Ministry has noted about the Vipers. The official retirement of the Czech Mi-24 and Mi-35 will take place in September at NATO Days at the Czech airbase in Ostrava.
The Czech Ministry of Defense has also noted that Vipers "stand out for their firepower, self-protection system, covert communication and survivability on the battlefield". In addition, the helicopters have a digital cockpit with large LCD panels, an automatic flight control system with integrated satellite and inertial navigation.
Prior to the delivery of these aircraft, pilots and technicians from the Náměšť nad Oslavou airbase trained at the Marine base at Camp Pendleton in California for seven months. The training team sent by the USA to the Czech Republic is expected to continue this training process for two years.
Photos: Ministerstvo Obrany České Republiky.
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