Thursday, April 25, 2024

U.S. military aid scandal: new fighter helmets go unused in Ukraine

Military support to Ukraine is at the center of a scandal that threatens to engulf the Trump administration amid concerns about the 2020 election.

Approximately five years earlier, the United States Air National Guard (California) has supplied a batch of newly issued fighter helmets, including masks and support equipment, for the Ukrainian Air Force.

The details were given in an 18 December 2015 Ministry of Defence of Ukraine’s media release, to announce that an official ceremony of transfer of military-technical equipment for the Ukrainian Air Force from the representatives of the U.S. Air National Guard took place at the military airfield of the Boryspil airport.


“The U.S. delegation is led by U.S. National Guard Maj. Gen. David Baldwin,” said in a statement.

24 Channel screen grab
24 Channel screen grab

The statement did not provide information on the type of gifted helmets but stressed that Ukrainian Air Force will receive two batches of 200 helmets and masks to replace aging Soviet-era systems.

It was assumed that Ukrainian fighter jet pilots will receive an important warfighting upgrade that can help keep the head and shoulders above the rest. The new U.S.-made helmet had to replace Soviet systems for pilots of MiG-29, Su-27 fighter jets and L-39 jet trainer.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Air Force is were suffering from a scarcity of oxygen masks and modern helmets for its combat pilots due to the fact that aging systems of the 60s and 80s are in stock.

The situation is acute in training aviation brigade where uses an archaic ZSh-3 helmet, Shl-82 leather flying earpiece with KM-32 mask. Especially considering the numbers of young cadets, the number of which is increasing every year.

Photo by Ukrainian MoD

The use of outdated systems threatens the health of pilots and can lead to disaster, in this regard, the American partners suggested that they transferred their helmets and masks, which, with the help of a special adapter (60$ cost), can be used on Soviet aircraft. Now even private pilots in the USA and Europe use similar systems on their demilitarized aircraft purchased in Poland, Germany, and in same Ukraine.

The pilot of privately owned MiG-29 use the U.S. made helmet
The pilot of privately owned MiG-29 use the U.S. made helmet

Despite, U.S. helmets go unused in Ukraine and are stored at the Chuhuyiv airbase. Ukrainian officials at first assured that they would use American systems that are easier and more convenient than Soviet ones. But then, in the middle of 2016, made a decision that the American systems not complying with those adopted in the country standards and cannot be used by military pilots.

At the same time, reported that the Ukrainian Air Force had tried in 2019 to sign two contracts No. 244/19 and No. 245/19 for the purchase of ZSh-7AP helmets manufactured by OJSC PKO Teploobmennik (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia) and oxygen masks KD-34D ser. 2 manufactured by AO NPP Respirator (Orekhovo-Zuevo, Russia).

The action of Ukrainian officials calls into question the further allocation of American military aid.

The U.S. bumped up its military support in 2014, soon after Russian troops annexed the Crimean peninsula while fomenting a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.

The vast majority of the funds have financed items such as sniper rifles; rocket-propelled grenade launchers; counter-artillery radars; command and control and communications systems; night vision goggles; medical equipment; as well training and logistical support.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more



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