Tag Archives: Ukrainian Army

Ukraine: “MANPADS shot down our Mi-24s”

An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

LATEST UPDATE 5 MAY 2014 (3RD HIND DOWNED, PILOT RELEASED) | A third Ukrainian Army Mil Mi-24 Hind was shot down on 5 May 2014, about 14:30 local time, near Slovyansk, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence confirmed. It’s the third aircraft loss to hostile fire in three days and the third in the third such event in the history of the country.

Fortunately both Hind crew members made it out alive, because the machine either crashed or ditched in a river after it was hit by heavy machine gun fire from what appeared to be pro-Russian separatists in the area. The pilot and gunner were med-evacuated back to camp by Ukrainian soldiers coming to their rescue.

Pilot released
Also some positive news from Eastern Ukraine on Monday 5 May: Captain Yevhena Krasnokuts – the pilot of one of the two Hinds downed earlier this month – was released from captivity. Doctors at the Ukraine Military Medical Clinical Centre of the Northern region are satisfied with his condition, although the captain did sustain some wounds because of his crash. At the same military hospital the bodies of the three crew members that died during the shoot-down on 2 May of two other Hinds.

MANPADS
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence shoulder-launched portable surface-to-air missiles – MANPADS in short – shot down two of its Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters near the town of Slovyansk that day. The two downed Hinds mark the first losses ever of an Ukrainian Air Force aircraft in mid-air by hostile fire since the country gained independence after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The statement released by Kiev (Kyiv) confirmed earlier reports from eye-witnesses and Russian sources that pro-Russian separatists downed an Ukrainian Army helicopter. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence both crew members on one of the Hinds were killed. Of the second Hind one of the Ukrainian Army pilots had apparently been taken prisoner by alleged separatists, the faith of the second crew member unknown – although it is possible that there was only one crew member on board one of the Hinds.

The use of MANPADS – be aware that it has not been independently confirmed – clearly shows the anti-government paramilitary groups that now hold key positions in and around a dozen of Eastern Ukrainian towns are well armed and trained in the use of more sophisticated weapons than the “everyday” Kalashnikov. Moreover, a normal machine gun would make the downing of an armoured Mi-24 very very difficult.

The Mi-24s were not the only choppers hit after the Ukrainian military started its renewed offensive against pro-Russian separatists positions in the early hours of 2 May. An Ukrainian Army Mi-8 “Hip” armed assault and transport helicopter got hit several times by small arms fire, wounding – according to Kiev – one soldier on board (see photos below).

Kramatorsk
Several eye-witnesses and journalists nearby say the Ukrainian Army helicopters fired upon road-blocks put up by the separatists just outside of the city of Slovyansk. All helicopters are believed to be operating from forward positions in the fields near Slovyansk and from Kramatorsk Airbase – which was a reserve field until recently. On 25 April one of the Mi-8s deployed to Kramatorsk exploded on the ground with several wounded as a result. According to a spokesperson of the Ukrainian Armed Forces the fuel tank had been hit by a large calibre sniper bullet. Others say it was hit by grenade fire.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

The Mi-8 that coming in to land near Slovyansk on 2 May 2014, after - according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence - it was hit by small arms fire from pro-Russian separatists (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
The Mi-8 that coming in to land near Slovyansk on 2 May 2014, after – according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence – it was hit by small arms fire from pro-Russian separatists (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
One of several images released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence showing bullet holes (notice the one in the roundel) in a Mi-8. According to the Ukraine the small arms fire came from pro-Russian separatist  near Slovyansk on 2 May 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
One of several images released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence showing bullet holes (notice the one in the roundel) in a Mi-8. According to the Ukraine the small arms fire came from pro-Russian separatist near Slovyansk on 2 May 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

Ukrainian Army deploys new Mi-8 version

The new Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8MSB-V on 24 April 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
The new Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8MSB-V on 24 April 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

The Ukrainian Army has deployed a new version of the Mil Mi-8 Hip helicopter. On decree of the Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Col. Gen. Mykhaylo Koval, the armed forces have commissioned the first air landing and transport helicopter dubbed Mi-8MSB-V on 24 April 2014.

The chopper is an indigenous upgraded version of the Mi-8T already in Ukrainian service. The most significant upgrade are new, more modern engines to improve the Hip’s performance. Moreover a flight information recording system, emergency beacon and climate control unit have been installed.

The Mi-8MSB-V (Мі-8МСБ-В in Ukrainian, Ми-8МСБ-В in Russian) is to perform air transport, paradrop missions, training, search and rescue and aerial surveillance. All Hips serve with the Ukrainian Army Aviation, with an estimated 30 operational. One Mi-8 exploded on Kramatorsk Airbase on 25 April (see more in our Overview: the Air Forces of Ukraine), but it is not known which type of Hip it was.

Source: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence with additional reporting by AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Ukraine domestically upgrades Hind attack helicopters

An Ukrainian Army Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter, photographed at 2 April 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter, photographed at 2 April 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

The armed forces of Ukraine are set to domestically upgrade their Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, now that country of origin Russia is no longer the biggest friend. Sources within the Defence Industry have provided some details of the upgrading program. Funds will come partly from donations of tens of millions of dollar made by Ukrainian companies and individuals after the country came to a stand-off with Russia when Moscow took control over the Crimea peninsula in March 2014.

The Ukrainian Army officially flies about 46 Mil Mi-24P/V/PM Hind attack helicopters, but the estimated number of aircraft that are actually airworthy is estimated at no more than 20. Three of them serve in Africa painted all white: two support the UN troops in the DR Congo since several months, a third deployed to Liberia on 26 March 2014 to aid the UN forces in that country. That leaves about 17 fully active Hinds at home. We at AIRheads↑Fly believe that now first some of the other 16 of the 46 Hinds will be upgraded to what is unofficially known as the Mi-24PU1 standard – with the U standing for Ukraine of course – to strengthen the front-line forces.

To increase the Hind’s capabilities Ukraine locally produced, more powerful engines will be built in. A new satcom is added and as well as a defensive suite we believe. Moreover the laser target finder and guiding system will be upgraded to accommodate the use of precision guided weapons – even in adversary weather conditions and at night.

An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

The new Ukrainian Army Hinds will be able to fire anti-aircraft missiles and can carry up to eight guided anti-tank missiles that are said to be able to hit armour 5 miles away. The Mi-24PU1s primary weapon system will be the gun, believed to be a double-barreled 23 millimetre GSh-23 able to fire 3000 to 3400 rounds per minute. Although an Ukrainian source says an improved 2x 30-millimitre version will be installed able to sent 4000 rounds a minute to a target.

Simultaneously with the Ukrainian Army upgrading its Mi-24s, the Ukrainian Air Force is trying to get as many of its long-stored MiG-29s back into action. With Ukraine trying to find a new and complicated independence from its powerful neighbour Russia, indigenous modernisation programs like of the Hind might be the corner stone of not only creating a more military independence, but also of creating new business opportunities for its own industry.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Ukraine-Russian stand-off Kherson: Situation Report

A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. Archive photo (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. Archive photo.
(Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

LATEST UPDATE 16 MARCH 07:45 UTC | Russian and Ukrainian forces were at a military stand-off Saterday 15 March 2014 in the Kherson region, just north of the disputed Crimean peninsula. Both sides admitted being involved in the deployment of air and ground assets in the area, although Russia kept it much vaguer than Ukraine.

Apparently about 60 to 80 Russian troops tried to take control of the strategically located village of Strilkove, just north of the Crimean peninsula on a 2 km (1.2 mile) thin long piece of coastal land leading to mainland Ukraine. The Russians deployed at least 3 armoured vehicles and 2 to 4 armed helicopters. Some sources say they were of the Mi-24 or Mi-28 attack type, but that is unconfirmed.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence its country scrambled troops to the region the size of an Air Mobile Battalion. Reinforcements might have flown in from units deployed to the military airfield in the town of Kherson, just northwest of the confrontation location. Some sources say they had air support from helicopters, which is likely to have come in the first place from armed Ukrainian Army Mi-8s or Mi-24s.

An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo.  (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

From Russia comes the official quote for incursions like today. “Russia considers the request of peaceful citizens in Ukraine to be protected.” Ukrainian border guard said the Russian forces told them they were after taking control of a natural gas installation.

Russian control of the Strilkove coastline clears the road to push quicker northeast to Ukraine’s main military air transport base at Melitopol, where the Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin IL-76s are based, if/when the conflict escalates any further. The distance over land is a 130 km (80 miles), which could in normal circumstances be negotiated in about 2 hours.

The same travel speed could be applied to the main M18/E105 road from the Crimea peninsula to Melitopol, located just 12 km (7.5 miles) west of Strilkove. The village of Novooleksiivka and the town Henichesk plus a former airbase in ruins since a long time ago are strategically situated. In case of any real Russian offensive the Ukrainian military will probably make a stand in that triangle to block advancing Russian forces from both the main route as well as the Strilkove coastline.

Fortunately on Saturday 15 March the stand-off didn’t become bigger. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Russian forces even withdrew to their former positions inside the Crimean peninsula after the Ukrainian ground forces and air support showed up, but this was later recalled by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry which stated that Strilkove had been taken by Russian forces.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

SCENARIO MELITOPOL: How a Russian offensive might play out

    Overview: the Air Forces of Ukraine

    UPDATED 24 JANUARY 2015 (MARIUPOL AIRPORT) | The Ukrainian Air Force (Повітряні Сили or Povitryani Syly Ukrayiny) was already going through a big reorganisation that had a planned time frame from 2009 to 2015, before Russia pushed Ukrainian forces from the Crimean peninsula in February/March 2014 and started its active support of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine in March/April 2014. The military pressure from its former ally has shaken the entire process. Kiev has to change both the armed forces structure and assets, while it is fighting a war at home.

    New plans call for more non-Russian aircraft and other hardware, with a preliminary new time frame of 2020 to 2030. The exact readiness levels of the Ukrainian armed forces are unclear. But we at Airheadsfly.com were the first media organisation to present you with an extensive and fairly accurate Overview of the Air Forces of Ukraine, right when the Russian-Ukrainian conflict started. This was clearly appreciated by our fans, as this overview was by far the most read article of our 999 posts of 2014.

    Ever since then we try to keep this overview as up-to-date as we can, despite the situation in Ukraine being “fluid”.

    The best air asset of the Ukrainian Air Force is the legendary Sukhoi Su-27 - NATO-reporting name Flanker (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)
    The best air asset of the Ukrainian Air Force is the legendary Sukhoi Su-27 – NATO-reporting name Flanker
    (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)

    Strength
    The peacetime strength of the air force is projected to be 20,000 to 23,000 personnel, including 18,000 to 20,000 in uniform. The air force has much weaponry that is old and maybe only good for spare parts. This is acknowledged by the military brass who are aiming to level the force off at 120 combat aircraft supported by 50 to 60 transport and special mission aircraft. Officially the Ukrainian Air Force (Повітряні Сили or Povitryani Syly) can field 160 combat aircraft and 25 transport aircraft. The Ukrainian Army (Сухопутні війська or Sukhoputni viysʹka) operates the attack helicopter fleet and has a normal operational strength of 72 combat helicopters: Mi-24s and armed Mi-8s. The Ukrainian Navy (Військово-Морські Сили or Viysʹkovo-Morsʹki Syly) operates 3 Beriev Be-12s and 8 Kamov Ka-27s on a daily basis, and had many airframes in not-airworthy state in reserve.

    Notice that in many official reports, YouTube video releases and on aerial footage like Google Maps the Ukrainian Airbases hold many aircraft that in real life are not even counted operational anymore by the Ukrainian Armed Forces themselves, not even before the conflict with Russia. Those are aircraft that have been decommissioned to save money and kept for possible future re-activation.

    Based on the official numbers adapted to the current situation, these are these are the most positive force levels at the moment:

    Strength Ukrainian armed forces January 2015

    Base Source: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Annual Defence Review 2013
    adapted by Airheadsfly.com editors to the situation known to us as of 4 January 2015

    Air Forces Command
    Troops: 40,600
    Combat aircraft: about 76 to 80 of an official active 150. A total of 507 combat planes with all planes in reserve and mothballed included. Up to 30 MiG-29s previously based at Belbek, Crimean peninsula, have or might be returned by Russia. Russia kept at least 7 MiG-29 single-seaters and 2 MiG-29UB two-seaters that were in good flying condition.
    Transport aircraft: 21 or less (was 24 or less before February 2014)

    Land Forces Command
    Troops: 57,000
    Main battle tanks: 686 (but many not operational)
    Armoured personnel carriers: 2065 (but many not operational), 60 armoured vehicles from either the Marines or the Army were returned by Russia as of 25 April 2014.
    Combat helicopters (Mi-24s / armed Mi-8s): about 20 to 40 of an official 72 fully operational. A total of 121 attack helicopters with all choppers in reserve/mothballed included
    Artillery guns: 716 (but many not operational)

    Naval Forces Command
    Troops: probably about 4,000 – 6,000 of an official of 14,600
    Vessels: 13, consisting of 1 frigate (U130 Hetman Sahaydachniy) with Ka-27, 1 missile corvette (U153 Pryluky), 1 gunboat (U170), 1 command & ELINT ship (U512), 1 command ship (U500 Donbass), 1 diving vessel (U700), 1 dry cargo barge (U763), 1 tanker (U760 Fastiv), 1 water-supply tanker (U756 Sudak), 1 work/degaussing ship (U811 Balta), 1 landing ship (Kirovohrad), 1 heavy-lift vessel (U852 Shostka) and four (patrol) boats (U172, U173, U241, U721, U855). On 2 May six smaller boats from the Crimea arrived in Odesa. Before the conflict the Ukrainian navy had 17 larger vessels, 1 submarine and 36 smaller boats.
    Maritime patrol aircraft: 1-3 (before the Russian take-over officially 3 airworthy)
    Anti-submarine helicopters: 5-8 (before the Russian take-over officially 8 airworthy)
    Main battle tanks (marines): unclear, before the Russian take-over 41
    Armoured personnel carriers (marines): unclear, before the Russian take-over 160, 60 armoured vehicles from either the Marines or the Army were returned by Russia as of 25 April 2014.
    Artillery guns (marines): unclear, before the Russian take-over 47. As many as up to 15 artillery guns might have been returned by Russia as of 25 April 2014, part of a shipment of 25 larger pieces of material.

    Air Mobile Forces Command
    Troops: 6,100
    Armoured personnel carriers: 310 (but many not operational)

    This map shows our overview of current active air bases of Ukraine without the Crimea peninsula and without the airbases and airfield taken by or under pressure of pro-Russian separatists (UPDATE 24 JANUARY 2015)


      Kramatorsk
      Kramatorsk Airbase in the far east is a reserve field, which still has enough infrastructure to restart fighter and/or helicopter operations. During the April 2014 uprising in the East of Ukraine, the base was taken by anti-government activists. According to various sources they were forced to flee the base when Ukrainian armed forces supported by at least one Su-27 Flanker and helicopters retook control. It marked the first time the Ukrainian Air Force fielded a Su-27 in combat. Locals and journalists on the ground report two Mi-24 Hinds on strafing runs, after which another pair of helicopters – presumably Mi-8s – inserted ground troops on the base which can now be used as a staging area for Ukrainian air operations in the eastern part of the country. On 25 April one of the Mi-8s deployed to Kramatorsk exploded on the ground with several wounded as a result. According to a spokesperson of the Ukrainian Armed Forces the fuel tank had been hit by a large calibre sniper bullet. Several eye-witnesses say to have heard multiple shots before the Hip blew up in flames.

      Luhansk Airport
      The airfield of Luhansk was used by the Ukrainian military – mainly by transport aircraft and helicopters – as an operating and supply base since April 2014. But after Russian regular forces started to openly support the pro-Russian rebels – in late August 2014 Ukrainian government forces were pushed back from the important stronghold. As of September 2014 Luhansk – or what is left of it – serves no longer the Ukrainian armed forces.

      Mariupol Airport
      Although a civilian location the airfield of Mariupol could have provided an excellent staging area for Ukrainian air assets. But during the third week of January 2015 pro-Russian separatist forces supported by up Russian regular troops (Moscow denies) took the airfield and started launching Grad missiles into the city, killing at least 20 on the first such strike on a market place in a residential area on 23 January alone. A possible loss of Mariupol would seriously shift the strategic balance in the region as it would open up the southern flank alongside the Black Sea coast to Berdyansk and further on to Melitopol. Mariupol also holds substantial industrial assets and a loss would be a next blow to the troublesome Ukrainian economy.

      Fighter force
      Su-27 (“Flanker”)
      The front point of the Ukrainian aerial combat force has been short on much the last decade. Combat pilots only spend about 40 hours per year in the air. Of the formidable Sukhoi Su-27 (Су-27) air superiority fighter about 16 are operational and another four could be returned to flying duty. These Fulcrums fly with the 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade based at Myrhorod (Mirgorod), but the Ukraine military is revitalising Ozerne Airbase near Kiev as well for Sukhoi Su-27 and MiG-29 operations, with former monthballed aircraft returning to service. In 2014 some Flankers were even training from Zhytomyr Airbase slightly north of Ozerne Airbase.
      Four Su-27s operated from Belbek Airbase at the Crimea peninsula (Krim) up to 24 February, to conduct security air patrols in support of the Olympic Games in Russian Sotji. As of 1 March 2014 the Flankers are said to have taken up Combat Air Patrol duties, as captured here by airplane spotter Andrey Rakul allegedly on 1 March 2014. Clearly visible are six R-27 (AA-10 Alamo-c) medium range air-to-air missiles and four R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles. Since we lack 100% confirmation of date and location the image might have been taken earlier, for example when Ukrainian Su-27 were flying CAP’s from Belbek.

      MiG-29 (“Fulcrum”)
      Apparently none of the 39 MiG-29 Fulcrums (МіГ-29) was able to flee Belbek Airbase at the Crimea before Russian forces seized the airfield on 1 March 2014. Relocation would have been possible to the Western Ukrainian MiG-29 base of Ivano-Frankivska and the central MiG-29 base of Vasylkiv (Vasilkova) near Kiev. The Russians are slowly returning MiG-29s in pieces, but have kept possibly seven MIG-29s (possibly all seven upgraded MiG-29UM1s (МіГ-29МУ1)) and two MiG-29UB two-seaters. The total MiG-29 force available is now likely about 24 – 30 aircraft, with the possibility of returning another 10 to 20 of an official 60 to 80 remaining Fulcrums back into flying condition on relatively short-term notice. It is believed that at least 12 aircraft are operational at Vasylkiv. Belbek also has three L-39s that was spotted on two different occasions, by a TV crew and footage released on YouTube, after the take-over. The Russians kept those aircraft too. Other aircraft fly from the MiG-29 base of Vasylkiv in the Kiev region as well, with at least one Su-27 and a L-39 Delfin advanced trainer reportedly spotted there as late as 11 March 2014 during an exercise with officially a total number 20 flight hours during 37 flights performed during this tactical exercise. One MiG-29 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists east of Donetsk on 7 August 2014, a second MiG-29 felt victim to hostile fire on 17 August 2014 near Luhansk. As of November 2014 the Russian Air Force operates a fighter unit of 14 to 24 Sukhoi Su-27M2s and Su-30s at Belbek Airbase (SEE VIDEO HERE).

      Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
      Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
      Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 number 69 preparing for a training sortie on 19 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 number 69 preparing for a training sortie on 19 March 2014
      (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 number 69 taking off for a training sortie on 19 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 number 69 taking off for a training sortie on 19 March 2014
      (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum (Image © Yuri Dinilyuk)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum (Image © Yuri Dinilyuk)

      Ground attack
      Su-24 (“Fencer”)
      For the ground attack role the Ukrainian Air Force relies partly on the somewhat “dinosaurish” Sukhoi Su-24M (Су-24М) Fencer-D tactical bomber, of which 6 are fully operational and another 9 to 17 could be airworthy or able to be restored to flying condition on a relatively short period of time. They fly from Starokostiantyniv with the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade. On 21 March at 15:15 local time one of the Sukhoi Su-24Ms crashed upon landing for a yet unknown reason. The crew – squadron commander Lt. Col. Dennis Plug and navigator Lieutenant Oleg Dudnik – sustained only minor injuries after ejecting from the plane. A board of investigators looks into the accident. Prior to this accident we put the number of available Su-24Ms on 16 to 24.

      Su-25 (“Frogfoot”)
      Of the official about 30 to 36 Su-25M/UB/UBM Frogfoot (Су-25) very capable close support aircraft, we estimate about 15 to 21 could possibly be ready to fight. They fly from Mykolaiv Airbase (Kulbabkino) just north of the Crimea, with 14 updated to M1 (Су-25М1) standard. This airbase might have additional fighter coverage at times by Su-27s and MiG-29s deployed there for the nearby ranges. Four Flankers and two Fulcrums were spotted as late as 4 April 2014. One Su-25 was shot down on 16 July 2014 – marking the first time this happened for an Ukrainian fast combat jet in the country’s history, with a second damaged by hostile fire. On 23 July 2014 two Su-25s were shot down very close to the border with Russia. Another Su-25 was downed on 29 August, over the Donbas region with the faith of the pilot undisclosed. Two more Frogfoots were lost in 2014.

      Mi-24 (“Hind”)
      Since 3 May 2014 the Ukrainian Army officially has about 43 Mil Mi-24P/V/PM Hind attack helicopters available of an official strength of 72 helicopters (armed Mi-8s included) that can be deployed for attack duties. But due to lack of funds the active force is estimated to be not more than 20 Hinds. Part of the rotary wing is based at Kherson, 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the Crimea, while Brody is the Army Aviation’s western location. At least two Mi-24s and a Mi-8 fly in white in support of the UN troops in the DR Congo. One Mi-24 has been deployed with the UN forces in Liberia as of 26 March 2014. On 2 May 2014 two Ukrainian Army Mi-24 were shot down by pro-Russian separatists near the town of Slovyansk. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence the choppers were hit by a shoulder-launched portable surface-to-air missile (MANPADS), marking the first time ever an Ukrainian military aircraft were lost by hostile fire in mid-air since the country gained independence after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. On 5 May a third Hind was downed by heavy machine gun fire, also near Slovyansk with both crew making it out alive after the machine crashed / ditched in a river. Another two Mi-24s were lossed or damaged upon repair in 2014.

      Tu-22M (“Backfire”)
      Until a decade ago, Ukraine also had dozens of Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire long range bombers available. These were scrapped however between 2002 and 2004 under the US-funded Cooperative Threat Reduction program (CTR).

      An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      A pair of Ukrainian Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      A pair of Ukrainian Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Very nice shot released by the Ukrainian defence department of a Sukhoi Su-25 in flight (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)
      Very nice shot released by the Ukrainian defence department of a Sukhoi Su-25 in flight (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)

      Tactical reconnaissance
      With very limited aerial reconnaissance assets the around 12 Sukhoi Su-24MR (Су-24МР) flying with the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade at Starokostiantyniv might become very handy to assess the situation on the ground. An AN-30B aerial photography and reconnaissance plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in the skies over Slovyansk on 6 June 2014.

      An Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24MR Fencer-E for tacrecce tasks (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24MR Fencer-E for tacrecce tasks (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)

      Transport aircraft
      When it comes to tactical and strategic aerial relocation, resupply and reinforcement the Ukrainian Air Force has at its disposal: five or six Ilyushin IL-76MDs operational and 13 in reserve, 1 Antonov AN-70, possibly still about 2 or 3 Antonov AN-2s, a single Antonov AN-24 with another 2 in reserve, three operational Antonov AN-26s and about 16 AN-26 in reserve. Of the AN-26s several are especially adapted for a medevac role. A sixth or seventh IL-76 was shot down by separatists on 13 June 2014, while landing at Luhansk Airport. A fourth AN-26 taken down by a apparently a relatively advanced SAM on 14 July 2014. Two Tupolev Tu-134s are technically available for VIP flights only, with uncertainty about the flying condition of one of them. The transport fleet is scattered across the country, with the IL-76s flying with the 25th Transport Aviation Brigade at Melitopol and with most AN-26s operating with the 19th Transport Aviation Brigade at Vinnytsia-Havryshivka. Kirovograd Airbase was reopened as an airlift location on 30 August 2014, home to forces relocated from Djankoj at the Crimea. Parts of the Ukrainian transport fleet operate out of Kyiv-Borispol (Kiev-Boryspil) International Airport as well, where they are being serviced by the 15th Transport Aviation Brigade.

      Mi-8 (“Hip”)
      The fixed-wing aircraft are supplemented by about 30 Mil Mi-8/Mi-8MT transport helicopters, of which at least one flies in white in support of the UN troops in the DR Congo. Part of the rotary wing is based at Kherson, 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the Crimea, while Brody is the Army Aviation’s western location. On 25 April one of the Mi-8s deployed to Kramatorsk Airbase in the east of the country exploded on the ground with several wounded as a result. According to a spokesperson of the Ukrainian Armed Forces the fuel tank had been hit by a large caliber sniper bullet. Several eye-witnesses say to have heard multiple shots before the Hip blew up in flames. A second Hip was shot down by what officially has been said to be a MANPADS on 29 May 2014 near the town of Slovyansk, killing a dozen servicemen including the Ukrainian Army General responsible for the Army Guard combat training department. A third Mi-8 was brought down on 24 June, and a fourth on 7 August 2014. The details of the loss of a fifth Hip in 2014 are unknown.
      On 24 April the Ukrainian Army commissioned the first newly domestically upgraded version of the Hip: the Mi-8MSB-V.

      An Ukrainian Air Force Antonov AN-26 taking off from Kharkiv Airbase on 2 or 3 April 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Antonov AN-26 taking off from Kharkiv Airbase (Kharkov) on 2 or 3 April 2014
      (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Antonov AN-26 adapted for the medevac role (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)
      An Ukrainian Air Force Antonov AN-26 adapted for the medevac role (Image © Ukrainian Air Force)
      An Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 and AN-26, possibly taken at Melitopol and released on 13 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 and AN-26, possibly taken at Melitopol and released on 13 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

      Trainers
      Although not primarily designed for combat, Ukrainian Air Force training aircraft could serve in the secondary liaison role, especially the 20 operational Yakovlev Yak-52M radial engine propeller aircraft based at Kherson in the south of the country. About 40 to 60 Yak’s are held in reserve. The 14 upgraded Aero L-39 Albatros advanced trainers could in theory be equipped for light attack duties. The Albatros’s are based in Chuhuiv in the east, facing a possible Russian invasion first, and at Kulbakino in the south, but at least three possible upgraded L-39s were captures by Russian forces on Belbek at the Crimea at 1 March 2014 and have so for not been returned. The total available Albatros fleet could number around 24 to 30, with the Air Force having 38 of the type on record in January 2014. For basic flight training the Ukrainian Air Force Academy at Kharkiv (Kharkov) uses the domestically developed KhAZ-30 single-engine light propeller aircraft.

      The Khaz-30 is used by the Ukrainian Air Force Academy at Kharkiv for elementary flight training (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      The Khaz-30 is used by the Ukrainian Air Force Academy at Kharkiv for elementary flight training (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force L-39 Albatros taking off (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Air Force L-39 Albatros taking off (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force overhauled L-39 Albatros (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force overhauled L-39 Albatros (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force L-39 Albatros number 106 on 19 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force L-39 Albatros number 106 on 19 March 2014 (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

      Naval aviation
      The aviation part of the Ukrainian Navy (Військово-Морські Сили or Viysʹkovo-Morsʹki Syly) already lost a lot in the early stages of conflict, namely the cluster of locations that is the Southern Fleet Base on the Crimean peninsula. The Ukrainian Naval aviation has 3 Beriev Be-12 maritime patrol aircraft, 2 Antonov AN-26 transport aircraft and 8 anti-submarine helicopters of the types Kamov Ka-27 and Mil Mi-14 Haze. Many of the assets in reserve (most of them not airworthy) were based at Saky at the Crimea, which means that up to 16 Kamov Ka-29 Helix-B assault transport helicopters, another 8 to 10 Ka-27s, up to 4 Antonov AN-26 transport aircraft, 6 to 8 Mil Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters and 4 or 5 Mil Mi-14 Haze anti-submarine helicopters could have been captured, but we have insufficient data at the moment to narrow down these numbers.

      Saky Naval Air Station
      According to Ukrainian sources on the ground and later confirmed by video footage one Ka-27, three Mi-14s, two AN-26s and one Beriev Be-12 were able to flee Saky Airbase for the Ukrainian mainland and possibly landed on the airfield of Western Navy Fleet Base city of Odesa. A second Be-12 and three KA-27s were returned in April 2014 by Russia, with only the Beriev in flyable condition.

      Footage showing Ukrainian Naval Air Assets making a safe escape from Saky (wrong caption with video though)

      Frigate Hetman Sahaidachny
      At least one Ka-27 was on board the naval frigate U130 Hetman Sahaidachny that payed a port visit to Souda in Greece on 28 February on the return trip from the anti-piracy mission Atalanta off the coast of Somalia. The ship docked at the Ukrainian naval base in Odesa on 6 March, bringing the flagship of the navy home. The Ministry of Defence in Kiev has confirmed rear admiral Berezovsky, commander of the Ukrainian Southern Fleet at Sevastopol and the whole Ukrainian Navy, has been relieved of his duties and that he is now sought for defecting to the pro-Russian self-declared autonomous government of the Crimea.

      An Ukrainian Navy Kamov Ka-27 Helix leaving the deck of a naval vessel (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      An Ukrainian Navy Kamov Ka-27 Helix leaving the deck of a naval vessel (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

      Border Guard Aviation
      The Border Guard Aviation flies two Diamond DA42 M-NG TwinStar unarmed light patrol aircraft. In 2013 the pair accumulated 434 flight hours, of which 233 were spent on actual border surveillance and 123 on patrolling the naval economic zone and Ukrainian territorial waters. Moreover the service has 5 Mil Mi-8s medium-lift helicopters, an AN-24 transport aircraft and an AN-26 transport aircraft.

      © 2014 – 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, the overview includes information provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, Ukrainian Border Guards and the International Institute for Strategic Studies

      OVERVIEW OF AIRCRAFT LOSSES BY HOSTILE FIRE, ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE
      (compiled by Airheadsfly.com based on official sources)

      Ukrainian Air Force AN-26 "Phoenix" with serial 05. Restored to flying condition in 2014, inaugurated on 30 August 2014 here at Borispol Airbase (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
      Ukrainian Air Force AN-26 “Phoenix” with serial 05. Restored to flying condition in 2014, inaugurated on 30 August 2014 here at Borispol Airbase (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)