WARSAW, Poland — The Czech Ministry of Defence may spend up to 12 billion koruna (U.S. $480 million) to acquire about a dozen new helos for the country's armed forces. The ministry initially aimed to spend only 6 billion krona on the procurement, but it is currently evaluating a proposal to double the deal's value, according to sources close to the deal.

"The ongoing market research activities are entering their final phase. No decision has been taken so far by the leadership of the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff," Petr Medek, spokesman for the MoD, told local business daily Hospodarske noviny.

The leading contenders for the deal reportedly include two U.S. and two European industry players, and the offered aircraft include Sikorsky's UH-60 Black Hawk, Airbus Helicopters' H145M, Bell's UH-1Y and Leonardo's AW139.

Under the plan, the procurement will allow the Czech military to replace their fleet of outdated Soviet-designed Mil transport helicopters with new helos made by an allied country.

The planned acquisition is possible thanks to an increase in the Czech Republic's military spending. In 2017, the country's defense expenditure is expected to total more than 52.53 billion krona, which represents a 10 percent increase compared with a year earlier. This will allow the Czech government to allocate some 1.08 percent of the country's gross domestic product to military spending, making this year's defense budget the largest in absolute numbers since 2007.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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