March 16, 2019 / 9:11 AM / 9 months ago

Czechs to buy army helicopters from U.S. company: deputy minister

FILE PHOTO: Members of Austrian special operations unit Jagdkommando perform an exercise on an Agusta Bell 212 helicopter in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will buy 12 military helicopters from a U.S. company, narrowing the field of possible suppliers, Deputy Defense Minister Jakub Landovsky told a paper on Saturday.

The Defense Ministry scrapped a tender for helicopters in 2017 and planned to launch another in summer 2018, meant to include bidders from Germany and Italy too.

The contract, estimated at 12.5 billion crowns ($553 million), will now go to Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron, or Lockheed Martin’s Sikorski, the Pravo daily paper said.

“It is true that we did not have any large project with the United States for a long time,” Landovsky said in an interview published by Pravo.

“The helicopters are now on the table. And it is possible to say that we are in exclusive talks with the United States now about a purchase of new helicopters,” he said.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Mark Potter

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