France to supply Ukraine with 55 helicopters

LE MINISTÈRE de l’Économie et des Finances (French Ministry of Economy and Finance) announced on May 29, 2018, that it had signed an agreement with the Ukraine government to supply 55 helicopters, of different classes, for use in the parapublic sector.

Signed in Paris by Delphine Gény-Stephann, undersecretary of Le Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances, and Ukraine’s Minister of the Interior, Arsen Avakov, the agreement covers a mix of new and pre-owned heavy and light helicopters.

According to the French government, the deal is valued at €555 million, but sources in Ukraine suggest the figure is actually €551 million. In addition to the supply of the helicopters, the agreement also covers the establishment of a training and maintenance centre in Ukraine.

A spokesman for the French government said: “This agreement marks a decisive milestone for the implementation of this bilateral project, the most important one between the two countries since the independence of Ukraine in 1991.”

However, the spokesman noted that the deal still had to be ratified by the Ukrainian Parliament before it could come into effect.

The helicopters, which include a number of H225 Super Pumas, will be operated by the Ukraine State Ministry of Emergencies, Border Guards Service, National Guard of Ukraine and National Police of Ukraine.

Under the agreement, Airbus will supply the helicopters in two tranches with the first batch of four, configured for search and rescue and emergency medical service operations, to be delivered later this year.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said: “Under the terms of the agreement, the French side will first supply 37 Airbus helicopters to Ukraine and later another 18 helicopters. The agrrement includes 21 H225 helicopters able to carry loads over 10 tonnes [22,000lb].”

Besides the H225s, the agreement covers the supply of single-engine light utility H125 Écureuils and twinengine light utility H145s. The new fleet will supplant the Ukrainian Government’s existing Mil Mi-8 helicopters, which have been in service for many years.

No details were given about which helicopter types are to be allocated to which of the four state services involved. Each service operates its helicopters from bases located around the country.

Nigel Pittaway