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Ministry to address three suppliers at least over helicopter deal

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Namest nad Oslavou, South Moravia, April 9 (CTK) – The Defence Ministry will place the order for the supply for 12 new multipurpose helicopters without a public tender, and it will address three bidders at least, Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) said on a visit to the Namest nad Oslavou air base on Monday.

The new helicopters are to replace the old Mi-24 combat helicopters.

The previous Czech government (2014-17) addressed the U.S. and the Italian governments.

The USA offered the UH-1Y helicopters from the Bell company, the Italians offered AgustaWestland AW139Ms from the Leonardo company.

Slechtova on Monday repeated that neither of the bids complied with the Czech needs.

“I have decided not to initiate any marketing research any more. Two years were enough, I do not want to further spend human resources, time or the money of the people who assisted in this,” Slechtova said.

She would not comment on which suppliers the ministry is going to address. She said she will release the information while placing the order. The relevant documents are being completed now, she said.

Slechtova said she has come to Namest to verify the criteria the new helicopters should meet.

“If big acquisitions worth billions of crowns are ahead, I will not place any order when I consider the information I received about it false and untrue,” Slechtova said.

She showed interest in the weight and size of the planned new helicopters and the number of crew they can transfer.

The ministry and the military management disputed over whether soldiers had set realistic criteria for the helicopters to be bought.

Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar repeatedly dismissed the accusation that the military demanded “science fiction” that the market even does not offer. Later he admitted that some criteria should be reassessed.

The new helicopters are to secure the transfer of soldiers, direct support for the ground forces and reconnaissance, medical transfers and tasks for the integrated rescue system.

The ministry wants to buy the helicopters including the equipment, weapons and ammunition. The contract is to include logistic and service support for the helicopters for their whole lifespan and the training of the personnel.

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