US $800m Ukraine military aid package includes 11 more Mi-17s

As part of $800m-worth of additional security assistance, the US is to supply an additional 11 Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine along with a range of other military equipment. This supplementary military aid was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on April 13. It is the seventh drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

Afghan Mi-17s at AMARG
Afghan Air Force Mi-17V-5s serial numbers 706 and 721 seen recently in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. These, along with the nine others stored there, are most likely the 11 examples that were due for delivery to Ukraine

In a media briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby said the Mi-17s had been earmarked for Afghanistan. He added: “They are coming out of our stocks, our inventory... we're now transferring them to Ukraine. We had already provided Ukraine five Mi-17s not long ago. So this is not the first time that we’ve given them Mi-17s.”

The 11 helicopters involved are almost certainly the Afghan Air Force Mi-17V-5s (serial numbers 703, 706, 716, 721, 727, 729, 735, 737, 739, 754, and 760) that are currently stored with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The shipment of this new equipment will begin immediately.

Kirkby continued: “As you've seen in the past, from the time the President authorizes drawdown until the first shipments actually start landing in the region can be as little as four to five days and then another couple of days once they're there to get processed and actually in the hands of Ukrainian frontline forces.” The package announced on April 13 also includes: 300 AeroVironment Switchblade tactical unmanned aerial systems; 500m Javelin missiles and thousands of other anti-armour systems; 18 155mm Howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds; ten AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars; two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars; 200 M113 armoured personnel carriers; 100 armoured High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles; Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear protective equipment; medical equipment; 30,000 sets of body armour and helmets; more than 2,000 optics and laser rangefinders; C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing; and M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions configured to be consistent with the Ottawa Convention.

Meanwhile, in a related move, AeroVironment was awarded a $19,737,523 firm-fixed-price contract by US Army Contracting Command for RQ-20 Puma AE unmanned aerial systems on April 14. The deal – which also includes reconnaissance surveillance and target acquisition kits, an initial spares package, contractor logistics support, and new equipment training – is for supply to Ukraine.

Emphasizing the urgency of the requirement, the estimated contract completion date was May 30, only six weeks after the US manufacturer was awarded the deal. Financing has been provided from Fiscal Year 2022 special funds.