Croatia sells its surplus helicopters to Ukraine

(To Andrea Gaspardo)

According to rumors circulated in the Croatian press as early as the end of February, the Armed Forces of the former Yugoslav state (Oružane Snage Republike Hrvatske – OSRH) are said to be in the process of handing over 14 Mi-8 helicopters previously placed in reserve to Ukraine.

In the past, the Croatian Air Force (Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo – HRZ) were major users of the Mi-8 series helicopters, especially during the wars of disintegration of Yugoslavia, and today they still line up as many as 25 examples in active service among Mi -8/Mi-17/Mi-171 meanwhile joined by OH-58s Kiowa and by UH-60s Black Hawk of US origin, while the Mil Mi-24D / V at the time purchased in Ukraine have not been in service for a long time.

To tell the truth, already in November 2022 there was talk of the possibility that Croatia, following the example of other Eastern European countries, could cede its surplus helicopters to Ukraine, but this initiative had immediately given gave rise to a very heated debate between the two highest offices in the country, with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković lined up on Atlanticist positions and President Zoran Milanović much more hostile to the wishes of Washington and Brussels. After fierce debates it finally seems that the prime minister's position has proved successful so the country is now preparing to deliver what it once promised. In more detail, the supply should concern:

- 1 Mi-8PS: 276 (c/n 10662);

- 2 Mi-8T: 274 (c/n 99254291) and 275 (c/n 99254272);

- 10 Mi-8MTV-1: 201 (c/n 95969), 202 (c/n 95968), 204 (c/n 95837), 206 (c/n 95666), 210 (c/n 95664), 211 ( c/n 96053), 212 (c/n 96054), 213 (c/n 96055), 251 (c/n 95987) and 254 (c/n 95876);

- 1 Mi-8MTV-1VA: 215 (c/n 96212).

The helicopters are kept in storage in the hangars of the two airports in the capital, Zagreb, and before being delivered to the Ukrainians they will have to undergo a complete overhaul cycle at the Zrakoplovno-Tehnicki Centar in Velika Gorica.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine until now, Kiev's western partners have supplied or promised to supply 60 helicopters of different types and versions to compensate for the losses suffered by the rotary wing component of the Ukrainian Air Force (PSU) and of the Ukrainian Army Air Force. However, even these supplies can hardly change the balance of forces in the field.

Photo: Ministarstvo obrane Republike Hrvatske