Slovakia to get US attack helicopters after donating jets to Ukraine
The US has offered to sell 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters at a two-thirds discount to Slovakia, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on 22 March.
The news comes just days after Slovakia said it would send retired MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, becoming the second nation after Poland to donate fast jets to the invaded country.
Slovakia would have to pay $340 million over three to four years for a deal worth over $1 billion, with the difference being covered by US Foreign Military Financing.
According to Shephard Defence Insight, Bell has completed AH-1Z production for the USMC, and only has smaller export orders from Bahrain and the Czech Republic to fulfil, so confirmation of the deal would extend the line.
However, the 12-aircraft total also matches the number ordered by Pakistan under a now-suspended FMS deal. At least ten of the helicopters are believed to have been completed.
Nad said Bratislava still needs to approve the deal. The package includes parts, training and more than 500 AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles.
Slovakia currently has no combat helicopters.
Alongside the offer of US equipment, Slovakia will receive 250 million euros ($269 million) in European Union compensation, Nad said in a social media post.
He added that the helicopter offer was partly due to its support for neighbouring Ukraine and also indirect compensation for the delayed delivery of F-16 fighter jets which the country ordered in 2018 that are now due to arrive in 2024.
The AH-1Z programme is a major upgrade of the USMC AH-1W. The first production aircraft was rolled out in January 2007, and by August 2008, Bell had delivered ten Vipers.
The final operational evaluation phase concluded in June 2010, and the type received full-rate production certification in September of that year.
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