Iraq negotiates on purchase of Czech Mi-24 combat helicopters

Current turmoil in the Middle Eastern nation, which is fighting fast-moving ISIS radicals, has complicated discussions

Prague, June 19 (ČTK) — Iraq is negotiating with Prague about the purchase of Czech Russian-made Mi-24 helicopters, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO) told journalists today, adding that Iraq is interested in buying seven Mi-24s immediately and a further 40 in the future.

Furthermore, the Czech-Iraqi negotiations about the Czech sale of redundant subsonic fighters L-159 are under way, but the current crisis has complicated these talks, Stropnický said.

At present, the Czech military uses 17 Mi-24 helicopters, some of which have been overhauled and adapted for night vision.

The ministry says the military needs all these helicopters.

The Iraqi demand may be satisfied by LOM, the state-controlled aircraft repair company, if it put into operation seven Mi-24s that it bought from the military in the past, Stropnický said.

LOM could also buy other Mi-24s elsewhere and make them usable for the Iraqis, he added.

“On the one hand, we welcome [Iraq’s] interest, we take it seriously. On the other hand, the situation in Iraq is so turbulent that further negotiations will be necessary,” Stropnický said.

He repeated that LOM may supply seven helicopters to Iraq, but he called a possible supply of another several dozens of helicopters “excessive optimism.”

The negotiations about the Czech supply of L-159s has got “slightly complicated” now that the Iraqi government is fighting Islamic radicals, Stropnický said.

“Nevertheless, a chance that the deal will be completed still exists. The need [on Baghdad’s part] persists,” he added.

The two parties are now negotiating about the price of the L-159s.

The Czech military would supply the planes, machine guns and ammunition. The Aero Vodochody aircraft maker would put the planes, now mothballed, into operation and supply other equipment and materiel. The military plans to discard its Mi-24/35 helicopters by 2018, also because their operation depends on the supply of spare parts from Russia.

“We don’t consider this optimal,” said Stropnický.

The ministry is considering the purchase of 12 brand-new multipurpose helicopters worth up to 15 million dollars apiece, Deputy Defense Minister Bohuslav Dvořák said.

These helicopters would be cheaper than the combat ones, which cost 30 million dollars and require expensive ammunition, Dvořák said.

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