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Croatia transfers 14 Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine.

| 2023

On October 19, 2023, Croatia confirmed the transfer of 14 Mi-8-MTV-1 helicopters to Ukraine, a move supported by U.S. and Croatian Defense officials. These helicopters, which have served for more than three decades in varied roles, will join the Ukrainian armed forces, accustomed to this type of Russian-made multi-role helicopter.

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Croatia transfers 14 multi role and cargo Mi 8 Russian made helicopters to Ukraine 925   Croatia has confirmed the transfer of 14 Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine, a move supported by U.S. and Croatian defense officials. (Picture source: Croatia Air Force)

According to a Pentagon transcript, Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the transfer during a meeting. The helicopters were assembled at Zagreb's Franjo Tudjman Airport and the adjoining Aeronautical Technical Center. All national markings and serial numbers have been removed, in preparation for their transfer to Ukraine.

The Mi-8s of the Divulje-based 395th Transport Helicopter Squadron (ETH) have been gathered together on the military ramp at Zagreb Franjo Tudjman Airport and adjoining Zrakoplovo-Tehnicki Centar (ZTC; Aeronautical Technical Centre) and will very soon be delivered to Ukraine.

The Mi-8 is a medium-sized twin-turbine helicopter, originally designed by the Soviet Union and now produced by Russia. It is used in various roles, including as an air command post, armed gunboat, reconnaissance platform, and cargo transport. The Mi-8 is one of the most produced helicopters in the world, used by more than 50 countries.

According to the Military Balance 2022, the Croatian helicopter fleet was mainly equipped with two squadrons of Mi-8-MTV Hip H; Mi-8T Hip C; Mi-171Sh. Among the Mi-8 fleet to be delivered to Ukraine, three cargo Mi-8Ts and 11 multi-role Mi-8MTV-1s (also known as Mi-17-1Vs) underwent overhauls between 2003 and 2005, then between 2013 and 2014.

The Mi-8T, 3 of which will be delivered to Ukraine, is a utility version without seats, equipped with round windows, weapons pylons, loading rings, a winch system and pulleys for operations loading area and, optionally, an electric winch near the front door. All versions have large "shell" doors at the rear with an incorporated staircase for the passenger version. BRDM-type vehicles or light vehicles can be entered through these doors.

With the withdrawal of its Mi-8 transport helicopter fleet, Croatia is now left with four UH-60M Black Hawks and ten Mi-171Sh helicopters to fulfill any airlift requirements, although the former is primarily used by specialized army units. Croatia's Defense Ministry, however, plans to acquire up to 15 UH-60L helicopters in the coming years to replace its MRH Mi-8s.

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