Croatia has completed preparations to send 14 Mil Mi-8 utility helicopters to Ukraine, according to Croatian media.
The helicopters, 12 modernized Mi-8MTV-1s and two older Mi-8Ts, will be transferred to Ukraine in “ten days”, Croatian news website Jutarnji reported, referring to unnamed sources.
The helicopters have been repainted and had undergone maintenance procedures, such as oil changes, the report added. While some of the aircraft have been stationed at the Aeronautical Technical Center at Velika Gorica, others are at Pleso Airport.
The helicopters will be either transported to Poland in a disassembled state or flown there, before being shipped across the Ukrainian border, Jutarnji added.
The website also published several photos of the helicopters, reportedly taken at Velika Gorica.
Croatian officials have not provided a comment on the transfer, keeping its list of military aid to Ukraine secret. The country’s government approved a new €160 million aid package on February 26, 2023, without revealing what it contains.
According to Kyiv Independent, there have been disputes regarding the package within the Croatian government, with unconfirmed reports stating that the country’s president Zoran Milanovic was strongly opposed to sending the helicopters.
The aging Mi-8s are in the process of being replaced with US-made Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the service of the Croatian Air Force. The first four UH-60s were delivered to Croatia in 2022.
Ukraine operated large number of Mi-8 and upgraded Mi-17 helicopters before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.
The helicopters saw heavy use following the invasion, including the involvement in several daring flights into the besieged city of Mariupol.
Numerous Mi-8s, as well as their parts, have been supplied to Ukraine by Western nations since the start of the war. For example, it has been reported that the US military has been supplying Ukraine with an unknown number of helicopters previously purchased for the Afghan army.