The Czech Republic intends to terminate the service of Polish helicopters W-3 Sokół
  • Article prepared for Onet.pl by the editorial team of the monthly magazine “Lotnictwo” and the website Portalmilitarny.pl

As Defense Minister Jana Chernuchova said during the deliberations of the parliamentary National Defense Committee, the evaluation of the planned works received from the Polish company PZL Świdnik turned out to be very high. The modernization offer amounted to about 850 million CZK, while the Ministry of Defense estimated its budget for this purpose at about 250 million CZK. Due to the abandonment of further investments in this equipment, flights of Czech W-3A helicopters will be suspended until 2028.

Marcin Strembski / New Military Technology

Czech W-3A during a mountain rescue demonstration.

In 1996, the Czech Republic received a batch of 11 falcons from Poland. The helicopters were sent there as part of an exchange for ten MiG-29 fighter planes, which the government in Prague inherited after the collapse of Czechoslovakia. One W-3A was lost in an accident on February 12, 2001, so the Army of the Czech Republic currently has 10 helicopters of this type.

Although all Czech W-3As are military machines, some wear a white and red salvage plate instead of traditional camouflage.  Currently, six helicopters fly in this color.Marcin Strembski / New Military Technology

Although all Czech W-3As are military machines, some wear a white and red salvage plate instead of traditional camouflage. Currently, six helicopters fly in this color.

The Sokoły squad operates from Linjic Airport near Pilzno, where they carry out their duty as part of the National Mountain Rescue and Medical System. If necessary, they also participate in forest firefighting operations, taking out Bambi hanging water tanks for such occasions.

The Czech police have Bell 412 transport helicopters, which, if properly equipped, could take over Sokołów's duties in the future.Marcin Strembski / New Military Technology

The Czech police have Bell 412 transport helicopters, which, if properly equipped, could take over Sokołów's duties in the future.

At present, no decision has been made on what will replace the Sokół aircraft after the end of its operation. Various scenarios are being considered. For example, it is possible to entrust these duties to the Czech Aviation Police or use a private company that provides such services. However, the Minister of Defense noted that in each of these cases, it would be desirable for military medics and rescue workers to serve on board the new machines, because in this way they will maintain their unique skills while working in real conditions.

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