The American company “Bell” for the needs of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) has started the production of four Huey II helicopters, and the first aircraft could arrive in BiH as early as next year.
The procurement of these helicopters, whose worth is 38.5 million dollars, is the largest investment project since the establishment of the AFBiH, with BiH participating in that project with “only” 4.36 million dollars, and the rest will be financed by the United States of America (USA).
“The Americans are practically awarding us with this. We are not a member of NATO, but it is important for NATO and the USA to procure these helicopters, because we have already received an invitation for the membership, and they want to strengthen BiH to bring us closer to that alliance, ” said Djuro Kozar, a military analyst, who also stresses that there are 38 helicopters in the Air Brigade of the AFBiH and all of them are older than 25 years.
As for the new helicopters, as Senad Masovic, the Chief of the Joint Staff of the AFBiH, recently said, the complete financial construction has been completed, while the delivery will depend on the manufacturer.
“Everything is going according to plan and there are no problems in the implementation of that project. To be clear, the production of helicopters for the needs of the AFBiH has begun and we expect that the process will be completely implemented under signed and defined protocol, which is supported by the US Government. So, there is no problem, ” Masovic pointed out.
At the same time, he announced a project within which the AFBiH will be delivered 28 special multi-purpose military vehicles Humvee, and one part of them will be armored, Nezavisne writes.
The contract on the procurement of helicopters that will be able to transport up to 13 people and a little more than two tons of cargo was signed in 2019 by the former Minister of Defense Marina Pendes, who then emphasized that the procurement of four helicopters is the largest investment project since the establishment of the AFBiH, in terms of the amount of financial resources, and the effect it will have on the operational capacities and capabilities of the AFBiH.
“This will give us more opportunities to be a solid support to all BiH residents, to give our contribution to regional cooperation projects, and ultimately strengthen our position as a reliable partner in international relations,” Pendes said on that occasion.
Apart from that, the helicopter procurement contract includes the delivery of four helicopters, additional training of pilots and technicians in the training centers of the company “Bell Helicopter Textron”, then the delivery of spare parts and consumables for two years and 300 hours of flight per year, as well as delivery of tools and test measurement equipment for helicopter maintenance and delivery of technical documentation for air technical maintenance.
To recall, the story about the procurement of new helicopters in BiH has been going on for several years, and at the end of 2015, the Council of Ministers of BiH adopted the Decision on approving a multi-year project in order to ensure and improve the operation of AFBiH helicopters with the realization period from 2016 to 2025. Later, at the session held at the end of 2017, the Council of Ministers of BiH decided on a multi-year helicopter procurement project and provided 6.2 million BAM for that purpose, while an additional 1.3 million BAM was provided by redistribution of approved funds in 2018.