Croatia plans to supply Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine and instead buy 20 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the US military.
The proposed helicopter deal was discussed during an Aug 14 meeting between Croatian defense personnel and a delegation from the US House of Representatives headed by Harold Rogers, the Chairman of the House's Committee on Appropriations, local media reported.
The helicopter swap deal will offer Ukraine near-term assistance and will also upgrade Croatian forces closer to NATO standards. The deal may help reduce Croatia’s dependency on Russia for Helicopter supplies. Croatia’s armed forces has a fleet of 10 Mi-171Sh helicopters built by Russia’s Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant.
If the deal goes through, the UH-60 Black Hawks would serve beside a smaller force of 10 new Mi-17-1Sh helicopters that entered Croatian service in 2008, and 8 Bell 206B-3 Jet Ranger helicopters used for training and light utility duties.
The goal is to offer the Ukraine near-term assistance, while bringing Croatian forces closer to NATO standards. As per the deal, Croatia’s 14 upgraded Mi-8 MTV-1 helicopters would be given to the Ukraine, in exchange for 20 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from US Army stocks.
Croatia’s Mi-8s are familiar to Ukraine as it had helped Croatia to repair and modernize 6 of them during 2013 overhaul. Croatia on the other hand has been looking at Black Hawk’s capabilities since July 2014 exercise over Kosovo that involved Croatian Mi-17s and American UH-60s.
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