THE UKRAINIAN ARMY HELICOPTER BRIGADE
During several visits at the 16th Independent Helicopter Brigade of Army Aviation in Brody (OBr AA) close to the city of Lviv, the 18th OBr AA at Poltava, the 12th OBr AA at Novy Kalyniv and the 11th OBr AA at Kherson the author got an impression about the current challenge of Ukrainian army aviators amongst two demanding tasks. Since years they cope with challenging duties of UN deployments in Africa. Furthermore, since the beginning of ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) in 2014, they are required permanently in the east of Ukraine and at the borderline to the Crimea.
In Western Europe hardly recognized, the Ukrainian helicopters achieve tremendous successes in Africa. Painted in noticeable white colours and marked with the UN identifier they fulfil their duties for more than a decade.
This applies also to the 16th Independent Helicopter Brigade, the “Fighting Bees” of Brody on the Ukrainian western border. They were already established in 1981 during Soviet times as the 119th Independent Helicopter Regiment. After the foundation of Ukraine and the accompanying reorganisation of the armed forces, the unit carried the names 3rd Brigade respectively 3rd Regiment until 25th December 2012.
Already with those names, they participated in their first UN missions. The long list of deployments reaches from UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) 1995-1996 via UN Confidence Restoration Operation (UNCRO) in Croatia 1995-1998 and KFOR in Kosovo 1999-2001 to the UN mission in Sierra-Leone (UNAMSIL) 2001-2005.
Currently, after the end of UNOCI, they have to cope with two peacekeeping missions at the same time. At the moment all missions are taking place in Africa with the UN missions MONUSCO and UNMIL. Within these two missions, the deployment in Liberia (UNMIL) is practically a permanent task that takes place since more than a decade.