The General Intelligence Directorate [GUR] of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has released a statement to show the level of proficiency of their pilots in operating the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter recently acquired from the United States.
The Directorate said they are effectively utilizing a US-manufactured UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter. They claim that the Black Hawk, the only one of its kind in the country, provides significant operational benefits compared to Soviet-designed Mi-8 Hip and Mi-24 Hind series helicopters.
The Directorate further explained that their special forces participated in ongoing training focused on coordinating with the multi-functional Black Hawk helicopter “in one area of the front.”
The special forces practiced various techniques, including deploying combat groups onto the battlefield, evacuating personnel, disembarking from landing ropes, and conducting night flights.
Furthermore, in the video accompanying the statement, the UH-60A helicopter and its crew can be seen training with special operatives to practice insertion and extraction techniques, like rappelling down from the helicopter while it hovers in midair.
Previously owned by Ace Aeronautics, LLC, the Black Hawk was registered in the US under the civil identification number N60FW.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has acknowledged that N60FW was transferred to Ukraine. FAA has added a note that reads “SOLD TO UKRAINE” to the aircraft’s archived entry in its online registration database.
An unnamed flight engineer quoted by the Defense Intelligence Directorate praised the Black Hawk helicopter for its reliability, ease of operation, and combat survivability. According to the engineer, Ukrainian crews could quickly master the Black Hawk in hours, despite their previous experience flying the Mi-8 and Mi-24.
Later in the report, a pilot named Maestro is mentioned, although it’s unclear if this is the same individual who compared the Black Hawk to the Mi-8 and Mi-24. Maestro is believed to be the first person trained to fly the UH-60A.
The video shows that the helicopter retains the same paint it had while it was owned by Ace Aeronautics — a shiny black coating with blue and white stripes.
The Ukrainian military has made several alterations to the helicopter’s exterior look, including adding the national emblem to the engine nacelles, painting national flag images on the main cabin doors, and affixing white identification stripes to the tail boom.
Photos of the helicopter in question were first released on February 21. As reported by the EurAsian Times, the UH-60A was manufactured in 1980 and was previously owned by the US Army Aviation, with serial number 80-23439. It was later acquired by Ace Aeronautics in 2017.
Ukraine Looks To Acquire Hundreds Of US-Made Helicopters
The Defense Intelligence Directorate, citing Ukrainian military personnel, noted that the Black Hawk is significantly more maneuverable and faster in horizontal flight than the Mi-8.
They also claim that the helicopter can easily fly for up to three hours without interruption, covering more than 600 kilometers (approximately 372.8 miles). The helicopter needs only 3-4 seconds to land a unit of twelve fighters and evacuate another unit from the battlefield, the press release stated.
The Directorate has also acknowledged that the Black Hawk helicopter can fire guided and unguided Hellfire missiles. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that this specific UH-60A helicopter has been armed with any weapons, including Hellfires.
Whatever the specific advantages and drawbacks of the present Black Hawk in Ukrainian service may be, the Defense Intelligence directorate appears to be clearly interested in acquiring additional Black Hawks and other more advanced Western helicopters.
Maestro stated that the skill level of Ukrainian pilots has significantly improved over the past year.
He also stated that Ukraine could easily acquire approximately 100 multi-purpose Black Hawk helicopters, 50 Apache attack helicopters, and 40-60 Chinook cargo helicopters with minimal training time for their pilots.
In February, Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence directorate, called for acquiring Apaches and A-10 Warthog ground attack jets from the US.
However, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov publicly opposed getting A-10s when discussing the need for additional combat aircraft in March.