The armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina will procure new US multipurpose helicopters to modernise their fleet, mainly made up of Russian aircraft, and an agreement to that end was signed in Sarajevo on Friday by BiH Defence Minister Marina Pendes and US Ambassador Eric Nelson.
The agreement covers the procurement of four Huey II helicopters made by US company Bell which can carry up to 13 persons or a little over two tonnes of cargo.
The agreement is worth US$ 38.5 million and BiH will pay only $4.36 million. The rest was secured by the US government via the Foreign Military Sales and Foreign Military Financing programmes for friendly countries.
The agreement covers the training of pilots and technicians, the delivery of reserve parts over two years, and the delivery of land equipment and technical documentation.
Minister Pendes said the US was a key and concrete partner to BiH and its armed forces on the country's Euro-Atlantic journey. She added that the purchase of new helicopters was the BiH military's biggest investment project since its establishment and that it would significantly affect its operational capabilities.
This will also enable us to contribute to regional cooperation projects and strengthen our position as a reliable partner in international relations, Pendes said.
Ambassador Nelson said the BiH armed forces were a positive element in the country in which it was necessary to invest, and called on BiH authorities to earmark additional funds for this and similar projects.
This is a joint project of the BiH and US governments. The BiH armed forces are an example of what the nations in BiH can achieve when they jointly focus on the future, he added.
The armed forces development plan for the 2017-27 period envisages the procurement of eight medium transport helicopters and 15 light multipurpose ones, but implementation is late due to lack of money. The procurement should cost at least $170 million.