Ecuador faces rift with Russia in Mi-17s for UH-60s swap

We discover ourselves in a new worldwide arms association the place the US is ready to supply Ecuador with an unspecified variety of UH-60A/L Black Hawk helicopters. These Black Hawks are a swap for Mi-17 helicopters that had been initially meant to be despatched to Ukraine

Photograph credit score: Flickr

The inspiration of those provide preparations is a set of agreements orchestrated between the US and Ecuador. These agreements, which got here into impact in January 2024, detailed plans for transferring Soviet weaponry from Ecuadorian reserves to Ukraine. In trade, the US agreed to equip the Ecuadorian navy with trendy gear to efficaciously sort out native drug cartels. 

Nonetheless, there’s a catch. Just one Mi-17 helicopter deliberate for air cargo by the Ecuadorian Air Power, is definitely serviceable. The remaining fleet, sadly, has been decreased to scrap and merely usable spare components. This charming saga of worldwide arms dealing is dropped at us by the Infodefense portal.

Choppers or spare components

Let’s delve into this intriguing piece of historical past, the place Ecuador expressed its intent to switch BM-21 “Grad”, SAM “Osa-AKM”, and Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. Sounds easy, proper? Properly, there’s a catch — Russia appears to have responded with an implicit ban on Ecuador’s bananas. As we await particulars on the timeline of this switch, the state of affairs stirs up a whirlwind of feelings. 

There’s a silver lining right here — Ukraine is acquainted with this navy {hardware}. It’s gear they will readily make the most of while not having to put money into infrastructure, and it’s urgently wanted on the frontlines. However a query lingers — how rapidly can these be built-in into the Armed Forces as soon as the switch happens if it ever does? 

Ukraine buys Soviet various rounds and BM-21 GRAD rockets from the US
Photograph credit score: Wikipedia

Why the doubt, you ask? Ecuador’s management has candidly admitted that the gear they’re contemplating handing over is basically corresponding to scrap iron, deemed presently as nonfunctional. The state of affairs stands that Ukraine would possibly find yourself with a bunch of ‘spare components donors’ as an alternative of operational equipment. 

Underneath these circumstances, wouldn’t or not it’s extra logical to switch Western-sourced gear to Ukraine, maybe from the USA? Ukraine already has some expertise working the likes of the Black Hawk, even whether it is restricted to the GUR MOU wing’s operations. Fascinating instances lie forward, to say the least!

The banana ban

Early February noticed heightened stress between Ecuador and Russia as a results of Russia’s choice to halt sure banana imports from Ecuador. This case has been unfolding ever since Ecuador determined to half methods with a few of its outdated Russian navy gear. The gear is on its strategy to the U.S. in a deal valued at $200 million for brand spanking new navy provides. 

Afghan Mi-17 helos in Arizona: arranged and battle-ready to Ukraine
Photograph credit score: 167th Airlift Wing

The Russian federal company overseeing veterinary and phytosanitary issues not too long ago imposed a ban on fruit imports from 5 banana suppliers in Ecuador, citing illness detection of their earlier shipments. Ecuador proudly holds the highest place on the earth for banana exports, having earned about $3.5 billion in 2022 from its gross sales. You will need to word that roughly one-fifth of those annual gross sales are made in Russia. 

The turning level that triggered Russia’s choice to cease some banana imports was Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa’s announcement in January. He revealed plans to ship tons of outdated Russian navy gear to the U.S., gear he known as “scrap” that’s unfit for additional use. In accordance with Noboa, this out of date gear shall be exchanged for upgraded equipment, which is essential to fight the escalating menace of drug gangs. This transfer didn’t sit effectively with the Russian Overseas Ministry, which argued that the choice violated a treaty stating that Ecuador should get hold of Russia’s consent earlier than promoting the gear to any third get together.

Russian Mi-17V5 helicopters are already armed with SPIKE ATGM
Photograph credit score: FlightGlobals

About Mi-17 helicopter

The Mi-17 is a multi-purpose helicopter, manufactured by the Russian firm, Kazan Helicopters – a subsidiary of the state-owned Rostec. It belongs to the Mi-8/17 household of helicopters, which ranks among the many world’s most produced and broadly used helicopters. 

The Mi-17 attracts energy from two Klimov TV3-117VM turboshaft engines, with every engine producing 1900 horsepower. It boasts a most pace of 250 km/h and a cruising pace of 225 km/h. This helicopter affords a vary of 495 kilometers and a service ceiling of 6000 meters. Its carrying capability contains as much as 36 troops or 12 stretchers together with attendants, or a load of 4000 kg contained in the cabin, or 5000 kg of cargo on an exterior sling. 

Afghan Mi-17 helos in Arizona: arranged and battle-ready to Ukraine
Photograph credit score: 167th Airlift Wing

The Mi-17 cockpit accommodates three crew members, composed of a pilot, a co-pilot, and a flight engineer. It’s decked with trendy avionics and methods, together with a digital autopilot, a climate radar, and a GPS navigation system. The helicopter additionally encompasses a rear ramp for cargo loading and unloading, together with a facet door for passengers. 

Concerning armament, the Mi-17 might be outfitted with a vary of weapons relying on the mission necessities. These might embody 57 mm rocket pods, 23 mm gun pods, anti-tank guided missiles, and air-to-air missiles. A 12.7 mm machine gun will also be mounted within the nostril. The helicopter’s armor is designed to guard the crew and important methods from small arms hearth and shell fragments. 

The Mi-17’s versatility and robustness have made it a favourite amongst navy and civilian operators worldwide. Its various roles embody transport, medevac, search and rescue, hearth combating, and extra. The power to function in a big selection of situations, from the Arctic to the desert, additional consolidates its utility.

About UH-60 helicopter

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter, developed by Sikorsky, that has been operational within the U.S. Army since 1978. It’s primarily utilized for air assault, medical evacuations, and the transport of personnel and supplies. 

The Black Hawk is powered by two Basic Electrical T700 turboshaft engines, every delivering 1,890 shaft horsepower. It boasts a most pace of 183 mph and a cruising pace of 173 mph. The helicopter can ascend at a price of 450 meters per minute and has a service ceiling of 19,000 toes. Though the Black Hawk has a vary of 368 miles, this may be prolonged by in-flight refueling. 

The UH-60 encompasses a four-blade foremost rotor and a four-blade tail rotor, each of that are fabricated from titanium and fiberglass. The primary rotor has a diameter of 53.7 toes, whereas the tail rotor measures 11 toes in diameter. The general size of the Black Hawk is 64.10 toes, and it stands at a top of 16.10 toes. 

Greek Army Aviation and Special Forces want UH-60M Blackhawk
Photograph credit score: Pixabay

UH-60’s armament

The Black Hawk can accommodate a crew of 4, which features a pilot, co-pilot, and two crew chiefs, along with as much as 11 absolutely outfitted troops. It possesses a cargo hook for exterior carry missions and is able to transporting as much as 9,000 kilos. The cabin, with dimensions of three.8 meters in size, 2.3 meters in width, and 1.3 meters in top, affords ample area for cargo or medical litter. 

Concerning armament, the UH-60 Black Hawk might be outfitted with a number of weapons, relying on its mission. They embody 7.62mm machine weapons, 30mm chain weapons, and Hellfire missiles. Some variants additionally assist the mounting of further weapon methods, just like the Superior Precision Kill Weapon System [APKWS].


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