Jutarnji List: Special Op to Send 14 Croatian Helicopters to Ukraine Begins

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Photo: Slaven Branislav Babic/PIXSELL

According to our information, the aircraft will be ready for transport in approximately 10 days

Croatia has started the operation of sending 14 transport helicopters to Ukraine. Twelve MI 8 MTV-1 helicopters and two MI 8 T helicopters have been separated from the Armed Forces, and preparations for their transport have begun, Jutarnji list has learned.

According to available information, several helicopters are currently located in the premises of the Aviation Technical Center in Velika Gorica, where its employees are handling all the necessary technical preparations. Some of the helicopters are in hangars, and currently two are outside the ZTC. Among other things, all existing markings are removed from the helicopters, used material is changed if necessary, oil is added, etc. Due to the lack of space in the ZTC, the remaining helicopters are located in the military part of the Pleso airport and in Lučko. It is estimated that the helicopters will be ready for transport in about ten days. According to our information, seven helicopters will be partially disassembled and transported by land, and the remaining seven will fly to Poland. Namely, all 14 helicopters will be transferred to Poland, from where they will be forwarded to Ukraine. The assumption is that helicopters with more resources will fly to Poland, while those with less resources will be transferred by land. After the departure of these helicopters to Ukraine, the Croatian Air Force will have at its disposal ten MI 171Sh transport helicopters and four Black Hawk helicopters.

The Croatian Government has classified all information on military aid to Ukraine as confidential, and it is impossible to obtain official confirmation of this information. The donation of 14 transport helicopters was confirmed by Prime Minister Plenković in November last year, but without any other details. On the other hand, President Milanović was very angry two months ago by the fact that the Government was arranging the donation of helicopters, and he said that the Ministry of Defense did not explain to him how these helicopters would be replaced. “I don’t give a damn,” Milanović said at the time. Two days ago, on the other hand, when he was asked when the helicopters would arrive in Ukraine, he answered rather disinterestedly: “I have no idea.”

In September of last year, photos of M-46 130 mm cannons targeting Russian positions were published on Ukrainian portals. In addition, more than ten crates of OF-482 fuze grenades were shown. On the crates, it says “Bullet with current-explosive number OF-482” in Latin script in Croatian. A month ago, a column of 12 civilian tow trucks was filmed on the highway towards the Macelj border crossing, and each one had a cannon covered. Apart from them, there was at least one tow truck with a closed cargo area in the convoy. It was most likely transporting ammunition. The tow trucks headed towards Maclje from the VSK Jasikovac military warehouse near Gospić.

In the last month, the greater diplomatic activity of the Minister of Defense Banožić in relation to Ukraine is visible. He was twice at the meetings of the Defense Contact Group for Ukraine, and in Zagreb he was the Minister of Defense of Poland. Given that Croatia coordinates the sending of military aid to its allies, the donation of helicopters must have been negotiated in more detail at those meetings as well. At these meetings, Minister Banožić, on behalf of the Government, confirmed each time that Croatia would continue to militarily assist Ukraine. However, there has been no official word on how much military aid has been sent so far. At the Government session on Thursday, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zdenko Lucić, only briefly said that in the past year, the Government made decisions that donated more than six million euros for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and that “we provided significant military aid”. Lucić pointed out that “Croatia participates in international initiatives and activities to help Ukraine, and Croatia’s total aid, when everything is added up, exceeds the amount of 160 million euros”.

So far, there is no information on what Croatia could get for the donated military equipment. The rule is that the eastern members of the Alliance for Artillery and Missile Weapons of Soviet production, which they send to Ukraine, receive new western weapons from their partners. The Croatian public has already speculated that in return Croatia could receive additional quantities of 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. Last year, Minister Banožić announced that Croatia would start the procurement of new PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, but he did not talk about the details. It was his announcement that many connected with the possibility of Croatia “trading” cannons to Ukraine for new German howitzers. It was also mentioned that the USA could deliver more used Black Hawk helicopters to Croatia. However, there is no confirmation of this yet.

You can read the original article in Jutarnji List here.

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