Best Western Helicopters to Be a Good Replacement For the Soviet Mi-8 And Mi-24 In Ukraine (Analysis)

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The Мі-24V provided by Czechia / Open source photo
The Мі-24V provided by Czechia / Open source photo

And will there be prospects for Ukraine’s enterprises engaged in the maintenance of Soviet-made helicopters

The authors of the Defense24 said in their publication that now the countries of Eastern Europe (except Ukraine) use in total 240 units of Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-24 and Mi-35 helicopters of Soviet and russian production.

Their maintenance is becoming problematic due to Western sanctions against the russian defense industry. And also because the facilities of Ukraine’s plant Motor Sich were subjected to missile strikes by the russian invaders (although it’s not possible find out about the consequences now). For some time, the countries of Eastern Europe will be able to use the appropriate safety margin (that is, facilities and spare parts) to keep their Soviet-made helicopters in service. But in a few years, Mi helicopters will have to be abandoned.

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Best Western Helicopters to Be a Good Replacement For the Soviet Mi-8 And Mi-24 In Ukraine, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The Мі-17 cargo helicopter provided by the USA / Photo credit: the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

According to Defence24, there are the following possible replacement options. The transport-attack Mi-8 has a flight weight of 13 tons, so it does not fit into the NATO-standard of an average helicopter with a flight weight of 8-10 tons. Considering that the heavier Mi-8 seems to have a harder time dodging MANPADS missiles than its lighter European models.

Therefore, to replace the Mi-8, it is better to buy medium helicopters of Western production. For example, the UH-60 Black Hawk or the AW-149 (also produced at facilities in Poland), or the H145M by Airbus (which is already serving in the armies of Serbia and Hungary as a transport and attack vehicle).

Best Western Helicopters to Be a Good Replacement For the Soviet Mi-8 And Mi-24 In Ukraine, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The H145M in a multi-purpose modification / Photo credit: Airbus

As for replacing the Mi-24 or Mi-35, the situation is more complex. For example, the Czech military considered that helicopters of this type are universal flying infantry fighting vehicles, which can only be replaced by a tandem of light helicopters, namely the Bell AH-1Z Viper and the UH-1Y Venom attack and transport helicopters. If looking for a replacement in the form of a purely attack machine, then the choice is really narrow: the Bell AH-1Z Viper, Boeing AH-64E Apache or the European Tiger by Airbus (which, however, is currently in service only with France, Germany and Spain).

Best Western Helicopters to Be a Good Replacement For the Soviet Mi-8 And Mi-24 In Ukraine, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters / Illustrative photo from open sources

Overall, the authors of Defence24 predict that as the Soviet Mi-8 and Mi-24 wear out, the Eastern European countries will slowly abandon such helicopters. Therefore, enterprises that deal with maintenance of the specified type helicopters have a rather limited perspective for work, literally in a few years.

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