The Ukrainian State Enterprise Mykolaiv (Nikolaev in Russian) Aviation Repair Plant (NARP), which is a part of the UkrOboronProm (UOP) military-industrial concern, announced on August 5 a new modernization and MRO program involving Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) Su-24M and Su-24MR bomber/reconnaissance aircraft, as well as Il-76MD military transports.
The core of the new program is to supply the UAF with additional Su-24M supersonic bombers and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft. The Su-24MR has a Shtik side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) and the Zima infrared reconnaissance system to detect camouflaged objects, as well as high-resolution cameras and radar-location systems. Its high speed enables it to conduct reconnaissance missions deep (215 nm/400 km) into an adversary’s territory, the UOP announcement highlighted. A common feature with the Su-24M is the terrain-following radar that enables both aircraft to fly extremely low at high speed to avoid enemy fire.
NARP is currently working to modernize Ukraine’s Il-76MD military transport, which is slated to receive advanced avionics and navigation equipment to comply with ICAO requirements. This will allow the UAF’s Il-76MD to carry out tasks anywhere in the world and participate in joint operations with NATO member countries. The Il-76MDs are the backbone of the UAF’s military air transport assets.
The Mykolaiv plant is also conducting repair work on a Beriev Be-12 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft that was saved by Ukrainian pilots during the Russian military invasion of Crimea in 2014. It is still unclear as to what purpose is served by re-commissioning the obsolete amphibious aircraft. To repair the aircraft some parts are have been reverse-engineered.
Ukraine has kicked off a new development program for its air force. Following the initial phase of the East Ukraine (Donbas) conflict in 2014, no UAF assets have been deployed, and no sorties have been flown against the separatists’ positions. Alongside its high-speed jets, Ukraine is now building up additional close air support (CAS) capabilities using slower aircraft in addition to the Su-25 “Frogfoot” fleet of approximately a dozen aircraft.
Ukrainian sources have confirmed the news broken by infodefensa.com in early August that Colonel-General Serhiy Drozdov, commander of the UAF, visited Brazil to talk about a possible acquisition of Embraer EMB-314 (A-29) Super Tucano single-engine turboprops. His delegation included an Su-25 pilot-instructor. The Ukrainians met with Embraer Defence and Security executives in São Paulo.
According to the Brazilian website, the Ukrainians intend to deploy Super Tucanos (in the case of a successful procurement) in the Donbas region to control the separatists. Ukraine is reportedly interested in the Super Tucano’s CAS capabilities using integrated precision-guided munition such as the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.