Why Ukraine is not given attack helicopters: an important nuance


Why Ukraine is not given attack helicopters: an important nuance

Why don't they give us AH-64 Apache attack helicopters or at least AH-1 Viper? The transition to modern attack helicopters always takes time and resources. The question here is who is willing to pay what price.

Questions of time and resources

For example, in order to “transfer” to 50 of the latest AH-64E Apache, the British Army will need “only” 8 years of time and $ 7 billion in costs (where only half of the amount is for the helicopters themselves, the rest is armament and service).

In the fall of 2022, Poland announced a plan to buy 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters as an “attachment” to future Abrams tanks. But here it is not known what price will have to be paid and how long to wait. And what's more – before the Poles spent 6 years on all sorts of bureaucratic maneuvers and unfinished attempts to modernize their Mi-24s before deciding and announcing a large order for Apache.

The same Apache plans to buy Germany instead of its shock Tiger. But since combat-ready helicopters are needed “for yesterday”, the German Ministry of Defense has an intermediate option to purchase 82 “militarized” H-145M. In particular, with the ability to shoot anti-tank missiles (similar “police” vehicles were bought by our Ministry of Internal Affairs under a “French contract”).

Or a smaller example – in 2019, the Czech Republic ordered “only” 4 AH-1Z Viper light attack helicopters and 9 Bell UH-1Y Venom transport helicopters for 600 thousand dollars. It is truly a miracle that the Americans managed to meet the production schedule and delivered these machines within the promised period of 4 years.

But even if we “bracket” the issues of time and resources, another question opens up here – how effectively Western attack helicopters can prove themselves in our conditions, like a sort of “flying artillery” with long-range Hellfire missiles.

The same Apache proved to be effective not only thanks to the onboard weapons, but also because the enemy's air defense was actually destroyed. At the same time, our helicopter pilots on the Mi-8/17 and Mi-24 are literally pressed to the ground so as not to fall under the sight of dense Russian air defense near the front line.

US collects Soviet equipment for Ukraine around the world

Both on our part and on the part of the Russians, helicopters in the current war are playing the role of “flying infantry fighting vehicles” rather than “flying long-range artillery.” It was from this conceptual perspective that the West built the support format for the Armed Forces of Ukraine for helicopters (or other equipment).

For example, the British considered that now they still cannot provide aircraft platforms for shooting their Brimstone and Brimstone 2 missiles in the amount of 1000 units allocated for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Instead, they were given improvised ground launchers for “guerrilla” shooting of these missiles, which, obviously, will show themselves during a future offensive.

The United States concentrated on collecting the maximum number of Soviet-style cars for us around the world. Thanks to this, the Armed Forces of Ukraine received not only two dozen “Afghan” Mi-17s, but also several Mi-8s from the Baltic countries, Mi-24s from the Czech Republic and Mi-17s from Slovakia. Croatia is preparing to give its similar helicopters to Ukraine (14 units). At the same time, an estimated figure of up to 50 helicopters of all types, transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine last year, already appears.

The Americans hoped that up to 50 more Soviet or Russian-made helicopters could be assembled in Latin America. But it failed, because Russia's positions there turned out to be too strong. For example, Brazil has said that it will not hand over its faulty Mi-35s precisely because it does not want to anger Russia, which supplies 22% of all fertilizers to Brazilian farmers. Although the same Mi-35s in Brazil became out of order precisely because contractors from the Russian military-industrial complex took money, but did not repair the machines.

Against this background, the American media have already begun to warm up their audience with reports that it is dangerous and physically difficult for our helicopter pilots to work on Soviet aircraft. Therefore, the APU needs Apache.

Here, the logic of the process suggests that initially the issue of Western fighters will be resolved on a practical plane as a tool for achieving air superiority. Later, the matter will turn to the practical issues of transferring Western attack helicopters.

The sequence is just that. You can't “jump over”.

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