The Iraqi Government is reportedly in talks with Czech Republic to acquire Russian-built Mi-24 attack helicopters.
According to media reports, the Iraqi Government has expressed interest in buying 40 Mi-24 helicopters, in addition to 12 L-159 light combat aircraft.
Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek told the Associated Press that the Czech Air Force’s inventory currently includes seven spare Mi-24 helicopters, which could be sold to Iraq.
Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky was quoted by Czech News Agency as saying that the Iraqi demand could be addressed by the state-owned LOM Praha, if it decides to use the seven Mi-24s that it bought from the military.
The defence minister said that LOM may also purchase Mi-24s from elsewhere and ready them for Iraq but added that the likely supply of another several dozen helicopters is ‘excessive optimism’.
"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," Stropnicky said.
On L-159 negotiations, the minister said that the two countries are negotiating the price but the ongoing crisis has complicated the discussions.
"Nevertheless, a chance that the deal will be completed still exists. The need [on Baghdad’s part] persists," Stropnicky added.
If a contract is signed, Aero Vodochody will supply 12 redundant L-159 subsonic fighters, along with equipment such as machine guns and ammunition to Iraq.
Manufactured by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Mi-24 is a Soviet-era large gunship and attack helicopter. It is used for direct air support, antitank, armed escort and air-to-air combat missions.
Image: A Czech Air Force Mi-24 Hind helicopter during CIAF 2007. Photo: courtesy of Voytek S.