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HomeAsiaIraq's Russian helicopters could end up in Ukraine

Iraq’s Russian helicopters could end up in Ukraine

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6_Mi-17 (2) (002)

The Iraqi Army is experiencing a severe shortage of spare parts for Russian-made Mil Mi-17 helicopters due to the conflict in Ukraine and related Western sanctions on Russia, according to data released in the United States.

“Due to the war in Ukraine the ability of the IACC (Iraqi Army Aviation Command) to access spare parts for their Mi-17 helicopters is limited as there are restrictions on purchasing Russian-made parts” – says a Pentagon report quoted by The Drive portal.

Therefore, on the basis of these assumptions, the Iraqi Army Air Force plans to replace the Mi-17 fleet with 20 multi-role helicopters of the Bell 412 family: in detail 4 Bell 412EPX (of Japanese production) and 16 Bell 412M, although a peremptory term in this sense has not yet been officially communicated.

At the same time, the Iraqi Army also wants to purchase 15 new Bell 407M light attack helicopters to replace part of its current fleet of Bell 407s and 15 new Bell 505 trainer helicopters to replace aging Bell 407 and OH-58 trainer helicopters.

In reality, the problems with the components of the Iraqi Air Force began well before the so-called Special Operation in Ukraine: already in 2021, for these same reasons, not only the Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft but also the attack drones Chinese CH-4s proved completely unfit for missions.

However, it cannot be excluded that in the current conditions the United States could also encourage the Baghdad authorities not only to abandon Russian-made aircraft but also to transfer them to Ukraine along the lines of what happened with the Afghan Mi-17s.

On the contrary, considering the Iraqi inventory, the means available for a transfer to Kiev could be extremely attractive given the Soviet-Russian origin of these means.

According to FlightGlobal 2023, the IACC would have as many as 41 Mi-8/171 (however, it is not known how many of these are operational, but still excellent for a possible cannibalization operation), 23 Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters ” relatively new” considering that their purchase took place after the American invasion in 2003 and finally 21 Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft intensively employed, bordering on excess, in 2014-2017 against the militants of the Islamic State.

However, all vehicles normally in use in Kiev and ready for use without the need for retraining or training.

According to the aforementioned database, the Iraqi Air Force also has 17 modern Mi-28N/UB attack helicopters , however their transfer to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (which has never used the Russian helicopter) would be made difficult by the impossibility of train the crews and the enormous difficulties in finding spare parts and components.

On the one hand, the Iraqis could certainly benefit from the alienation of these aircraft considering that the maintenance problems are certainly not recent and therefore will only get worse; moreover, the operational fleet will progressively decrease even when other specimens are dismantled to obtain spare parts.

6_Mi-17 (1) (002)

On the other hand the Bell 412, although it can carry guided missiles, has a much lower payload capacity than the Mi-17. Furthermore, the transfer of Iraqi aircraft to Ukraine could be hampered by pro-Iranian and opposition forces, such as supporters of Ayatollah Muqtada al-Sadr.

However, the example of attempts to obtain the withdrawal of Russian-made aircraft from the Iraqi armed forces clearly demonstrates the desire of the United States to collect equipment everywhere for transfer to Ukraine.

Washington implements similar proposals to other states , such as in Latin America, where there are Soviet aircraft distributed among Peru , Argentina , Colombia , Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil  without clearly counting Moscow’s traditional allies such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela).

Source: Analisi Difesa

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