Helicopters descend on Prague

On 3 February 2009 an international military seminar ‘Availability of helicopters – Way ahead for Mi–Type Helicopters’ was held in Prague within the framework of the activities of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council.

Czech Republic and European Union

The seminar was organised under the auspices of First Deputy Minister of Defence Martin Barták.

The objective of this seminar was to discuss the issue of availability of helicopters for NATO/EU missions, to reach consensus on opinions and activities to support the helicopter initiative within both organisations and deal with its possible consequences for the activities of the helicopter squad of the Army of the Czech Republic.

The seminar followed up on activities started in the past (seminar on contribution of the Czech Republic to the development of the helicopter transport capability of NATO/EU) which were continued with the involvement of state-owned enterprise LOM Praha in a call for tender from the European Defence Agency (EDA) for preparing a feasibility study on mutual training of helicopter crews.

The seminar was attended by dozens of military and civilian experts representing the NATO Headquarters and its supporting units, EDA, the headquarters of multinational forces in NATO/EU operations (ISAF – Afghanistan, EUFOR – Chad and the Central African Republic), selected EU and NATO Member States and several other countries (Ukraine, Croatia). Among the participants in the seminar were also representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Army of the Czech Republic and the Defence Industry Association of the Czech Republic.

The expert discussions took place in four consecutive thematic discussion panels. The first panel was devoted to the complex issue of helicopter availability for operations, the second panel included discussion on experiences from the current missions (ISAF, EUFOR), the third was aimed at solving issues of technical and logistic nature in helicopter deployment in current missions; and finally the fourth panel discussed the possibilities of increasing the international Mi-Type helicopter availability for missions.

A solution to the problem of helicopter availability for NATO/EU missions is one of the priorities of the Czech Presidency in the area of development of military capabilities. In this regard the Czech Republic fully supports and builds on the British-French helicopter initiative from March 2008. First Deputy Minister of Defence Martin Barták in his introductory speech at the seminar stated that, “The Czech Republic as a Member State of both the EU and NATO foresees the need for maximum complementarity and cooperation of both organisations – on a political level as well as in terms of the development of capabilities.”

The Czech Republic is currently also involved in the issue of preparing service and repair activities to the benefit of other states. The Czech Republic has further applied to assume the leading role in the “HIP Helicopter Task Force” (HHTF) work group. The objective of the HHTF activities is to determine conditions for the creation of multinational helicopter units within NATO/EU that use Mi-Type helicopters in the areas of mission engagement, logistic and technical support and financial security. This effort should help increase the number of transport helicopters in international missions, particularly in the ISAF mission. The result of the HHTF activities will be presented at the NATO summit in April 2009.

Contact: Vladimír Lukovský, Press Information Service of the MD, phone: +420 973 200  153, mobile: +420 724 006 780, e-mail: lukovskv@army.cz

Posted: February 3, 2009