“I’m especially grateful to Denmark, which announced today that it will provide a Harpoon launcher and missiles to help Ukraine defend its coast. I’d also like to thank the Czech Republic for its substantial support, including a recent donation of attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems. And today, several countries announced new donations of critically needed artillery systems and ammunition, including Italy, Greece, Norway and Poland. And let me also recognize the United Kingdom for its leading role in helping to coordinate security assistance and for the significant quantities of British equipment that continue to flow into Ukraine. I’m deeply grateful to these countries and to all the countries that have stood up today,” he said in the briefing.
Austin did not identify the type of helicopter or the quantity. The Czech Air Force operates the Mil Mi-24 attack helicopter which Ukraine possesses as well.
‘Throughout the now three-month Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western leaders organising aid to the Ukrainian armed forces have shown a preference for sending Soviet Bloc equipment, such as RAC MiG fighters and Almaz-Antey S-300 air defence systems. The bulk of equipment operated by Ukrainian troops is Soviet-era in origin and thus requires little-to-no training time upon its receipt.
‘In contrast, it may require substantial training on Western jets and helicopters before Ukrainian operators can make effective use of them. That makes Prague’s Mi-24s the likely candidate for the attack helicopters heading to Ukraine.
‘Some Eastern European countries, including Poland, have proposed sending their stocks of Soviet-era aircraft, tanks and missiles to Ukraine, in return for those systems being replaced by modern US-made equivalents.
‘The USA itself has provided Ukraine with some $4 billion worth of equipment from its own stocks, including Mi-17s previously destined for the now-defunct Afghan air force.’
The Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name: Hind) first flew in 1969 and it became a feared symbol of Soviet military might during the Cold War. Since it was a mainstay of the Warsaw Pact, the Hind would have helped spearhead a Soviet military advance on Western Europe had conflict broken out.
Czechoslovakia became a user of the Mi-24 during the Cold War, and the Czech Air Force continues to operate a potent ‘Hind’ fleet, largely providing close support to soldiers on the ground.
A mixture of Mi-24V and newer Mi-35 versions, the latter being the designation applied to export variants, is currently in service with the 221st Helicopter Squadron at Náměšť nad Oslavou.
Additional source: The Royal International Air Tattoo website
Photo credit: Petr Kadlec Own work via Wikipedia
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