The Croatian defense ministry has taken delivery of another pair of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from the United States.
The helicopters arrived at the Franjo Tuđman airport in Zagreb on a C-17 transport aircraft on December 3, bringing the total number of Black Hawks in Croatian Armed Forces service to four.
Speaking at the reception ceremony, the country’s defense minister Mario Banožić said the ideal number of the helicopters would be 12, adding that he believed that the number would be achieved, hinting at the acquisition of another 8 units.
To remind, Croatia bought a total of four Black Hawks under an agreement from 2018. Two of the helicopters were donated by the US defense department, while two were paid for by Croatia.
Banožić also thanked “the most important strategic partner of the Republic of Croatia in the field of defense and ally” for the support and successful cooperation that began during the Homeland War through cooperation with the Minnesota National Guard and continued through various projects, including the project to equip Bradley vehicles.
“The proof of this strong partnership is the arrival of these two Black Hawk helicopters, as well as the two donated helicopters that were delivered in February of this year. We can boast that the Croatian Air Force, which as of today is richer for two more helicopters, will significantly speed up work in all tasks and operations with the arrival of the helicopters,” said the minister and added that until now most UH-60M pilots had about 200 flight hours.
Croatian Black Hawks entered service at the beginning of May 2022. The helicopters will further increase the capabilities of the Croatian Army, performing transport, border security, combating terrorism, medical evacuation, search and rescue, logistic replenishment and combat support. At the same time, they will enhance interoperability with US and NATO forces in various tasks and rapid positioning of troops with minimal helicopter resources.
The defense minister further said the department would continue work on replacing helicopters of Soviet origin with Western ones. The Mi-17 multipurpose and Mi-8 transport helicopters will have to be phased out by 2024, as they will be reaching the end of their service life. The defense minister also pointed out that Russian-made spare parts are also a problem in light of Russia’s actions in Ukraine this year and Western sanctions on Russian exports.