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​Mi-24s Promised to Ukraine Are Good But It's Time to Look Into Supplying Modern Attack Helicopters, Too

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A pair of Mi-24P attack helicopters of the Land Forces of Ukraine / Open source illustrative photo
A pair of Mi-24P attack helicopters of the Land Forces of Ukraine / Open source illustrative photo

There are still countries that can give away their Soviet-made choppers, but the work on prospective transfer of newer models should be started in advance

General Staff of North Macedonian army recently greenlighted the transfer of 12 Mi-24 attack helicopters to Ukraine, yet the final decision is up to the government to approve. This news are good for Ukraine as the transfer, if approved, would receive aircraft capable of launching midnight attacks thanks to modernized cockpit equipment.

But also it would mean that it's already time to have an eye to the future provision of modern attack helicopter gunships, too, and raise the issue on high levels. Even though it looks like there are still an abundance of countries that could bring Soviet Mi-24 to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Read more: If Ukraine’s Military Gets Modernized Macedonian Mi-24V, Aerial Attack at Night Will Not Be a Problem
Mi-24V of North Macedonian forces is prepared for a sortie
Mi-24V of North Macedonian Air Forces is prepared for a sortie / Open source illustrative photo

In theory, even the USA could give some of their Mi-24s since they have at least two of them in Bulgaria, which are used as "enemies" during staged drills. As a reminder, the United States earlier committed 20 Mi-17 transport helicopters to Ukraine.

Bulgaria itself has six Mi-24Ds in reserve stock, according to The Military Balance 2022. And here we have a variety of options possible, if we consider the Bulgarian government's twofold stance: to not provide military aid to Ukraine officially, while having already sent $2.7 million worth of weapons and equipment through third parties.

Slovakia has 15 Mi-24 helicopters of Mi-24V and Mi-24D modifications in reserve, too. And the reason behind the generous discount for AH-1Z Viper helicopters the US gave to Slovakia might have been the incentive the country needs to approve the provision of Mi-24s, not the compensation for MiG-29 fighters as we initially thought.

Poland, in turn, still uses the 28 Mi-24 helicopters while gradually decommissioning them as soon as new AH-64 Apache rotorcraft are coming in. But it seems here's where Ukraine's allies run out of options for the source of Soviet attack helicopters.

Actually, the world's stocks of Soviet-era equipment are not so limitless that the West could just find more and more "incentives" and replacements for the donor countries. We should keep in mind that sometimes the countries that have a resourceful aircraft fleet on paper may have political reasons that become an obstacle.

AH-64 Apache and Mi-24 / Photo credit: U.S. Army, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade
AH-64 Apache and Mi-24 / Photo credit: U.S. Army, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade

For example, that was the case when several countries of Latin America had up to 50 Mi-17 and Mi-35s but declined the US plea to give them off "to not provoke russia."

So the issue of starting supply of modern Western helicopters should at least be on agenda as well, with Ukrainian military command playing first fiddle and voicing out the requirements for the helicopters types and available options.

Ukrainian Mi-24P is being prepared for a combat sortie, spring 2023 / Illustrative photo credit: The New York Times
Ukrainian Mi-24P is being prepared for a combat sortie, spring 2023 / Illustrative photo credit: The New York Times
Read more: ​North Macedonia to Give Ukraine Mi-24 Helicopters and Receive 139 Million Dollars for New Ones