How Russian-Built Mi-17 Helicopters From a US Warehouse Ended Up in Ukraine

Ukraine recently received Mi-17 helicopters as part of US military aid.
Russian Air Force Mil Mi-17

In a move that has caught many people by surprise, the United States has announced that it is sending Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. These Mi-17 helicopters of Russian origin will be used to help bolster the Ukrainian military in their fight against the Russian invasion. 

But, are these Mi-17 helicopters good enough? Will they really support Ukraine in its time of need?

The reliable Russian Mi-17 helicopter

Mi-17 helicopters
Mi-17 helicopters by Courtesy Photo. Public Domain.

The United States has been helping Ukraine build up its military capabilities now that it has lost an essential part of its air force in the last three months of the war.

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And these Mi-17s were bought by the United States to help Afghanistan in its fight against the Taliban, but now that the American troops are no longer in Afghanistan, they have been given to Ukraine.

Slovakia has also joined this fight by donating four mi-8s and 1 MI-7 helicopter all these helicopters will be able to serve for missions in cities like Mariupol, carrying troops and ammunition to the front.

Consequently, the Mi-17s are a substantial addition to Ukraine’s fleet, as they are well-suited for operating in the country’s diverse terrain and will replace the helicopters they have recently lost.

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The helicopters will be used to transport troops and supplies. They will also be equipped with medical equipment to be used for evacuation missions.

Mi-17 Helicopter transport
Mi-17 Helicopter transport by Sergio Gamboa. Public Domain.

While the Ukrainian military has welcomed the new helicopters, some experts have criticized the move, arguing that it could escalate the conflict.

Nevertheless, the Mi-17s are seen as a valuable addition to Ukraine’s arsenal and will no doubt play a crucial role in the country’s ongoing fight.

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Mi-17 specs

Mi-17 weapons qualification
Mi-17 weapons qualification by Chad Menegay. Public Domain.

  • Origin: Soviet Union / Russia
  • First flight: 1975
  • Introduction: 1977
  • Status: In service
  • Production: 1977–present
  • Number built: Over 12,000 units
  • Crew: 3 
  • Length: 18.465 meters (60 feet 7 inches)
  • Height: 5.65 meters (18 feet 6 inches)
  • Empty weight: 7,489 kilograms (16,510 pounds)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13,000 kilograms (28,660 pounds)
  • Maximum speed: 280 km/h (170 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 260 km/h (160 mph)
  • Range: 800 kilometers (500 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 6,000 meters (20,000 feet)

The Mi-17 helicopter armament typically includes a mix of unguided rockets like the S-8 and missiles like the Ataka.

The exact mix of weapons depends on the mission profile and the specific equipment the helicopter is carrying. For example, missiles might be used for air-to-air combat or air-to-ground attacks, while unguided rockets are often used for close air support or anti-personnel missions.

In addition to its primary armament, the helicopter also carries a variety of defensive weapons, including machine guns and flare launchers.

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These systems help to protect the helicopter from enemy fire and allow it to safely operate in hostile environments. 

These helicopters will be of tremendous logistical help in this phase of the war

At the moment, both Ukrainian and Russian troops are taking heavy casualties – and the battles are quite long. So, these helicopters could have an essential logistical function.

They won’t change the course of the war, but they will be crucial in carrying wounded troops from the battlefield or taking supplies to the most inaccessible areas.

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Featured image credit: Russian Air Force Mil Mi-17 by Vitaly V. Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0