US agrees to sale of Black Hawk helicopters to Slovakia

THE US DEPARTMENT of State agreed with the sale of nine Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters to Slovakia, according to the announcement of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) published by the Defence News.

Sikorsky Black Hawk military helicopter cares for security. Sikorsky Black Hawk military helicopter cares for security. (Source: AP/SITA)

The sale of military technology abroad first needs to be approved by Congress, and then the governments of the two countries can begin talks, the Sme daily wrote in its February 21 issue.

The cost of the nine Black Hawk UH-60M helicopters will not amount to $450 million (€395 million) as reported on February 20 by the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA); because the exact figure will stem from negotiations, Slovak Defence Ministry spokeswoman Martina Balleková told the TASR newswire.

Back in January, the ministry estimated that the price will be somewhere around $348 million (€305 million). “The published sum that was green-lighted by the American government represents the maximum framework of the prepared Foreign Military Sales programme which has been submitted for approval to the relevant committee in Congress and includes additional potential requirements from the Slovak side in the future,” said Balleková, adding that this could concern, for example, extended training or additional helicopter modifications. “The sum, therefore, in no way represents the cost of the basic contract.”      

The purchase of helicopters from the US still needs to be approved by the Slovak Security Council and the government. Defence Minister Martin Glváč informed members of the parliamentary defence committee about the offer. With consent from the US Congress, the two governments can begin negotiations, Balleková summed up.   

During Glváč’s January visit to the US, the Americans offered Slovakia the option of purchasing Sikorsky Black Hawks via the US Foreign Military Sales fund. The machines are required to replace 14 Soviet Mi-17 helicopters which the Slovak Army plans to withdraw in two phases within six years.

Aside from the helicopters, the contract in question also includes 20 engines, 20 global navigation systems, two systems for planning air missions and other technologies as well as training of pilots, courses and maintenance of the helicopters, Sme wrote.

If Slovakia accepted the offer soon, the US side promised to cut some acquisition processes so that the first two helicopters could be in Slovakia by the end of 2015, TASR wrote. 

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