Ukraine’s intelligence service released an image to show the country’s first US-made UH-60 Black Hawk chopper.
The images, published on February 21, show that the helicopter is now being used by the aviation branch of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence directorate. The unit has spearheaded numerous risky operations in the ongoing conflict with Russia, such as cross-border helicopter raids.
The Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine posted two images of the helicopter in a hangar on its website. In one image, a two-person, armed helicopter crew is shown posing in front of the plane.
The Black Hawk is next to a Ukrainian Mi-24 Hind in a different head-on view. This image also shows another two-person crew and a four-person squad of what appears to be special operations forces.
“Combat helicopters significantly increase the capabilities of special units of the Defense Intelligence directorate and the effectiveness of special operations,” the accompanying text reads.
In the images, the Black Hawk can be seen adorned in a gloss black scheme with broad blue and silver cheatlines that wrap around the bottom portion of the fuselage and up and over the engine housing.
The helicopter also has national flags and Ukrainian roundels painted on it. A video that claims to show Ukraine’s new Black Hawk helicopter in flight has also surfaced online, albeit its origin is still unknown.
Ukrainian UH-60 helicopter flight in Ukraine, February. pic.twitter.com/39abE4M3sJ
— Clash Report (@clashreport) February 21, 2023
Meanwhile, the overall design of the scheme is similar to that of a UH-60A flown in the past by Ace Aeronautics, LLC, a US firm with its headquarters in Guntersville, Alabama.
According to the company’s website, Ace Aeronautics provides cutting-edge design solutions to facilitate complex modifications to existing aircraft.
Several people speculate it could be a helicopter previously purchased from US Army stock and refurbished in the interest of the American company Ace Aeronautics, LLC.
The company’s website also features a UH-60A helicopter nearly identical to the one seen in the photographs made public by Ukraine. Previously, it was registered in the United States with the civil aviation number N60FW.
This helicopter, known as “Blue,” served with the American Army earlier and had a serial number 80-23455. One of Ace Aeronautics’ services is to buy UH-60As from the US Army and then sell them after having been repainted and modified to match client requirements.
Even though the Ukrainian helicopter’s paint scheme is similar to N60FW’s, it is still plausible that this is a separate airframe painted with the same livery, possibly by Ace Aeronautics.
That being said, all sensitive equipment seems to be replaced with commercial systems. According to the pictures, the helicopter has the bare minimum of equipment. Also, it appears that the countermeasures, warning sensors, and crew-served weaponry for the gunners are absent.
Black Hawk Will Boost Ukraine’s Capabilities
The Black Hawk is a rational choice for Ukraine to modernize its rotary-wing aircraft because it is eager to incorporate more Western and NATO-standard weaponry across its military forces.
The Black Hawk has a track record of supporting special operations forces, perhaps best known for its involvement with the US Army Special Operations Command. Black Hawks have performed numerous missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is uncertain whether Ukraine has received just only one Black hawk or if there are more. Nevertheless, even a single Black Hawk delivery substantially advances Ukraine’s military aviation capability.
The UH-60 Black Hawk was not included in any aid shipments, and the US officials did not mention it being supplied to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
So far, Kyiv’s allies have mainly provided Soviet-era aircraft, particularly Mi-8/17 and Mi-24 models. Besides that, the Ukrainian Navy has only received a small number of former UK Royal Navy Sea Kings.
In light of this, the single UH-60A that is currently placed in a hangar someplace in Ukraine may well mark the beginning of a larger initiative to improve the nation’s rotary capabilities and commence the process of gradually replacing the current fleet, which is primarily made up of aircraft from the Soviet Union.