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At a meeting at the Pentagon on 12 December, US Defense Secretary Dr Mark T Esper and Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar finalized the sale of eight UH-1Y VENOM utility helicopters and four AH-1Z VIPER attack rotorcraft.

The sale, which Esper said was a "historic moment," is valued at about $650 million (€582 million) and is the Czech Republic's largest military purchase from the US. The Defense Secretary said it is a step forward in the Czech Republic's replacement of Russian helicopters with NATO-interoperable equipment.

This procurement supports the National Defense Strategy objectives of strengthening alliances as well as countering Russian influence, highlights consolidated gains made over the past 30 years as the Czech Republic modernizes its armed forces and demonstrates the strength of the US-Czech Republic defence relationship, official sources suggested.

"We continue to stand united as NATO allies to deter an increasingly aggressive Russia. We will also continue to work together to address the threats and challenges posed by China, especially with regard to 5G technology," Esper commented. He noted the department's appreciation for the Czech Republic's leadership in calling attention to the security of 5G networks in Europe.

Metnar added that the US is the key strategic partner for his nation, noting that the two countries are not only NATO allies, but also have supported each other historically. "Our service members train together, fight together on deployed operations and today, now, we are opening a new chapter in our mutual relationship," he said. The Czech Republic plans to meet its commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defence by 2024.

Bell’s AH-1Z VIPER will bring advanced ground attack capability to the Czech armed forces’ helicopter fleet. (Photo via Wikipedia)

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