At least two gunship helicopters have been spotted with their original camo and Czech markings replaced by Ukrainian flags.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin disclosed on May 23, 2022, that the Czech Republic donated an unspecified number of helicopters to Ukraine, together with tanks and rocket systems. As done by many countries, the Czech Republic is keeping the list of the donated equipment confidential, so it is not possible to determine which and how many helicopters were transferred from the inventory of Mi-24 and Mi-17 helicopters.
The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine released a photo on Saturday, showing that at least two Czech Mi-24V Hind attack helicopters are now in Ukraine. The helicopters are still wearing their original Czech camouflage, with large Ukrainian flags on the fuselage that are also covering the markings of the Czech Air Force. The Hinds also received the white bands on the tail boom as the other helicopters already in service in Ukraine.
Czech-supplied Mi-24 attack helicopters in the service of Ukrainian Air Force.#ArmUkraineNow #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/sV92DMmb42
— Stratcom Centre UA (@StratcomCentre) July 9, 2022
According to Czech media, the two helicopters were taken directly from the flight lines instead of being taken from storage. In fact, the helicopters have been identified with the serials 3370 and 7353, which correspond to the newer batch of Mi-24V/Mi-35 received by the Czech Air Force between 2003 and 2005 as part of the repayment of the Russian debt towards the country. The helicopters were also reportedly recently overhauled.
Similar info was reported also by Key.Aero, which reported that two Mi-35s, with serials 3362 and 3370, were being prepared for transfer to Ukrainian Army Aviation and both have recently been overhauled by LOM Praha Helicopters at Kbely. In particular, the Mi-35 3362 was delivered back to the 221st Helicopter Squadron at Namest nad Oslavou in August 2021.
It is not known when the helicopters where transferred, however their last flights were reported at the end of April. Considering that the donation was announced on May 23, it is possible that the helicopters were delivered in Ukraine soon after, as happened with the donation of Slovakian helicopters. In fact, the Slovakian Minister of Defence announced the donation of a Mi-2 and four Mi-17s transport helicopters to Ukraine on June 16 and a day later they were already spotted during their delivery by road.
The Czech Air Force operates about 15 Mi-24/Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters and about 20 Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters. These helicopters are planned to be replaced by four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and eight UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, whose production has begun earlier this year at Bell’s facilities in Fort Worth, Texas.