05:20 GMT +324 January 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States and the Czech Republic have penned a $635 million deal on the sale of 12 American helicopters to Prague, the Defence Department announced.

    "I think it means a few things", Esper said on Thursday as quoted in a pool report when asked about the deal’s significance. "First of all, it signals the Czech Republic's commitment to modernizing its armed forces and to meeting its NATO goals. Secondly, it reaffirms another major step forward in the cooperation between our two countries. And third: It marks the Czech Republic's continuing commitment to NATO. So I think this is a very positive event and I'm glad that we could do this and I hope we can do more".

    The agreement on the sale of eight UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters was signed by Czech Republic's Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper.

    The helicopters will be in the Czech armed forces' inventory by the end of 2023, according to Metnar.

    Metnar announced the decision to purchase the helicopters in November.

    According to the Minister, the Czech military wants to replace 17 Russian Mi-24/35 attack helicopters, since it no longer wants to be dependent on the supply of spare parts from Russia.

    Tags:
    NATO, Mark Esper, helicopters, Czech Republic, United States
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