The Czech Republic intends to acquire a dozen aircraft from Bell – eight transports and four attack helicopters – as part of a fleet modernisation worth Kc14.5 billion ($600 million).

Speaking during a visit to Sedlec air base in late August, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that the nation wants to acquire the new rotorcraft "as soon as possible".

Defence minister Lubomir Metnar says Prague will buy eight utility-roled UH-1Y Venoms and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to replace its Mil Mi-24s.

Selection of the US-built types was “based on military recommendations", says Metnar.

Conclusion of the government-to-government contract – which includes weapons and support provision – is expected by year-end, allowing deliveries to begin in 2023.

Bell has already secured approval from the US government for the deal via the Foreign Military Sales process.

The combined Viper and Venom proposal beat competition from the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk for the requirement.

Both the Bell helicopters are operated by the US Marine Corps, with the AH-1Z also selected by export customers Bahrain and Pakistan.

Deliveries of the UH-1Y to the USMC were completed in 2018.