The United States has made a generous offer to Slovakia: 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters at a huge discount, plus 500 AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles and training. The deal, worth more than $1 billion, would only cost Slovakia $340 million, with the rest covered by the U.S. Foreign Military Financing program.
Why is the U.S. offering such a bargain to Slovakia? The main reason is that Slovakia has recently shown its support for Ukraine by giving it 13 MiG-29 fighter jets and part of its KUB air defense system. Ukraine is facing a year-long invasion by Russia and needs all the help it can get from its allies.
Slovakia, a NATO member on the eastern flank of the alliance, retired its MiG jets last summer due to lack of spare parts and maintenance. It has relied on its neighbors Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary for air defense support since then. It also ordered 14 U.S. F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets in 2018, but delivery was delayed until 2024.
The U.S. offer of helicopters is partly a way of compensating Slovakia for the delayed F-16s and partly a way of rewarding it for standing with Ukraine. The European Union also offered Slovakia 250 million euros ($269 million) in additional compensation.
Slovakia’s Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said that his government still needs to approve the deal, but he called it “hugely advantageous” and said it would “significantly increase Slovakia’s defense potential”. He said that Slovakia currently has no combat helicopters and that the Bell AH-1Z Vipers would fill that gap.
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an advanced attack helicopter developed for the U.S. Marine Corps. It features a four-blade rotor system, two-seat cockpit with glass displays, integrated weapons systems, stealth technology, and enhanced survivability. It can carry up to 16 Hellfire missiles or other weapons such as rockets or guns.
The AGM-114 Hellfire II missile is an air-to-surface missile that can be launched from helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft against various targets such as tanks, bunkers, buildings or ships. It has different variants with different guidance systems such as laser or radar.
If Slovakia accepts the U.S. offer of helicopters and missiles, it will boost its military capabilities and strengthen its ties with Washington and Brussels. It will also send a clear message to Moscow that it stands with Kyiv against Russian aggression.
Bell AH-1Z Viper
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a modern attack helicopter that serves in the United States Marine Corps. It is a twin-engine, tandem-seat helicopter that can perform a variety of missions, such as close air support, anti-armor, reconnaissance, escort and fire suppression.
The AH-1Z Viper is an upgraded version of the AH-1W Super Cobra that has been in service since 1986. The Viper features a new four-blade rotor system, a new target sighting system, improved avionics and weapons systems, and increased survivability and reliability. The Viper can carry a wide range of weapons, including Hellfire missiles, Hydra rockets, Sidewinder missiles and a 20 mm cannon.
The AH-1Z Viper has been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, where it has proven its effectiveness in combat. The Viper can operate in day or night conditions and can coordinate with other aircraft and ground forces. The Viper is also compatible with the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter, which shares many common components and maintenance procedures.
The AH-1Z Viper is one of the most advanced attack helicopters in the world. It provides the Marine Corps with a powerful and versatile platform that can support various operations and scenarios.