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US gifts Soviet-designed helicopters to Ukraine

written by Charbel Kadib | June 2, 2022

Soviet-designed Mi-17 transport helicopters

The Biden administration has announced a new US$700 million military support package for Ukraine, which includes four Soviet-designed Mi-17 transport helicopters.

This latest package is the 11th drawdown of equipment from the US Department of Defense’s inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

The Mi-17 helicopters were originally purchased by the US government from a Russian defence contractor to arm the Afghan military.

However, the aircraft were later retained by the US after the Afghan government was deposed.

Other items to be delivered to Ukraine as part of this latest package include:

  • High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HMARS) and ammunition;
  • five counter-artillery radars;
  • two air surveillance radars;
  • 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 50 Command Launch Units;
  • 6,000 anti-armour weapons;
  • 15,000 155mm artillery rounds;
  • 15 tactical vehicles; and
  • spare parts and equipment.
  • This latest package comes just weeks after the US authorised $100 million (AU$142 million) for the provision of:
  • 18 155mm howitzers;
  • 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155mm howitzers;
  • three AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars; and
  • field equipment and spare parts.

The Biden administration’s security assistance to Ukraine now totals approximately US$5.3 billion, including approximately $4.6 billion since Russia launched its invasion.

“The United States also continues to work with its allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements,” Pentagon deputy assistant to the secretary of defence, Todd Breasseale, said.


The US’ contribution has been met with help from many nations, in particular Australia and the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, Britain said it would send M270B1 launch rocket systems capable of hitting targets up to 49 miles away.

Ukrainian troops will be trained to use the devices in the UK, before returning to their homeland.

“The UK stands with Ukraine and has taken a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“As Russian’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against Russia’s brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”

Australia has also actively supplied Ukrainian forces with military equipment, most recently sending 14 M113 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and a further 20 Thales-built Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMVs).

This built on the 20 Bushmasters, including two ambulance variants, initially delivered to Ukraine following a request from President Volodymyr Zelensky, taking the total number of PMVs gifted to the country to 40.

The Australian government’s latest support package also included the supply of three pallets of radiation monitoring equipment and personal protective equipment, arranged by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).


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