Croatia Receives American Combat Helicopter Donation

Total Croatia News

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Source: Ministry of Defence

The first five Kiowa helicopters have arrived to Croatia.

The first five of 16 Kiowa Warriors OH-58 combat helicopters have arrived on Saturday to Croatia. The helicopters have been donated to Croatia by the United States, and the donation also includes a flight simulator, as well as accessories and parts, including weapons. It is expected that soon the remaining 11 helicopters will also arrive to the Zemunik Air Base near Zadar. This is by far the most valuable US military donation to Croatia, worth in total around 1.7 billion kuna, reports Večernji List on July 31, 2016.

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Croatia will cover transportation, VAT and other costs (such as pilot training). It is estimated that the Ministry of Defence will in the end pay about 200 million kuna. For that amount, Croatia will receive 16 powerful helicopters designed for reconnaissance and combat.

Although these are second-hand helicopters, Croatia was given the first pick by the Americans to choose the individual helicopters among the contingent which was intended for donation to US allies. In November 2015, Colonel Michael Križanec chose the latest D version of the helicopter, which first entered into service of the US Army in 2012. Therefore, the Croatian Air Force has received nearly new helicopters which have a very small number of flight hours, and have all been produced between 2010 and 2012.

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Croatian pilots will immediately begin with training exercises, first on the flight simulator and then on the helicopters, and they will be trained by American instructors. It is expected that the Air Force will train about 30 pilots. The donation means that after many years – since Croatia retired a combat squadron of Russian Mi-24 helicopters – Croatia will again have a squadron of combat helicopters.

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Depending on the type of weapons carried, the helicopters can fight at distances of several kilometres and against enemy tanks and armoured vehicles, fortified positions and aircraft. The helicopters can be armed with heavy machine guns, unguided and guided antitank missiles, and anti-aircraft Stinger missiles. Analysts believe that the Croatian Air Force has made a good decision when it opted for this kind of helicopters since Kiowas are designed to face new kinds of security threats, such as terrorism.


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