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Latvia receives first Black Hawks to replace Soviet Mi-17 helicopters

Latvian Black Hawk helicopters in a hangar
Photo: NATO

The Latvian Air Force has taken delivery of the first two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from the US.

Delivered earlier this month at the Lielvārde Air Force Base, the helicopters are the first of a total of four units ordered by the country in a bid to replace Soviet Mi-17 helicopters, for which spare part were running out of stock.

A US Air Force C-17 transport plane delivered the helicopters, which will now undergo the necessary technical work before scheduled test flights.

“This is a long-awaited addition to our military inventory, allowing the Air Force to reach a new level of capability with the new and modern Black Hawk helicopters and to strengthen interoperability with our allies,” said Colonel Viesturs Masulis, Commander of the Latvian Air Force.

“Five helicopter crews have already been trained and currently the former Mi-17 crews are undergoing conversion training in the US; the initial training phase has ended and we will start using the new helicopters as soon as the first ones are ready for flight.”

Photo: NATO

The new equipment will help the Latvian Air Force to execute missions in search and rescue or other types of operations. Latvian pilots and technicians have participated in several training courses since 2020 to learn how to operate and maintain the new helicopters.

The Latvian government approved the acquisition of four modern utility helicopters in late 2018 in a cooperation with the United States.

Delivery of the remaining two UH-60Ms is expected at the end of 2023.