Russian-made Mi-24 helicopters fly past during exercises near Budapest. The Czech Republic is discussing a sale of its Mi-24s to Iraq. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP)
WARSAW — Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky has announced the Czech Republic is in talks to sell Russian-built Mil Mi-24 helicopters to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
“They have shown interest in the helicopters,” Stropnicky told local daily Mlada fronta DNES.
Currently, the Czech Air Force operates 17 Mi-24 helos. Of these, seven aircraft could be sold to the Iraqi government, according to Czech ministry officials.
The minister said that, in addition to the helos, the Iraqi government has expressed interest in purchasing Aero L-159 light combat aircraft, which are made by Czech producer Aero Vodochody.
Should the deal go through, the helos will be modernized and Iraqi pilots will undergo training in the Czech Republic. The copters are to be used to bolster Iraqi efforts to combat Sunni insurgents in the country’s north, where militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured several cities this month.
The twin-engine aircraft is a combat helo with transport capabilities. It is enabled with a maximum speed of 310 kilometers per hour, has a load capacity of 2.4 tons, and a flight range of 750 kilometers, according to data from the Czech Defense Ministry. The aircraft is manufactured by the Moscow Mil helicopter plant.
The Czech copters are estimated to be worth about 34.5 million krona (US $1.7 million) each, which would put the potential deal at about $12 million. ■