Ukraine’s helicopter brigades defy odds to remain operational.

On a snowbound field, three Soviet-era helicopters were being readied for battle. Pilots and crew checked the flight plan for their next target, while technicians loaded slim gray rockets into launcher pods and stacked flares into racks behind the exhaust.

One year into the war, against all the odds, Ukraine’s helicopter brigades are still operational. Every day of the week, multiple times a day, they go into battle against enemy forces, launching rocket attacks along the front lines in support of ground troops and occasionally slipping under Russian air defenses to fly covert missions into enemy territory.

Far from being knocked out in the first days of the invasion, Ukraine’s helicopters and jets have kept flying, remaining an inspiring and useful element of the war effort.

In a rare opportunity, the 18th Sikorsky Brigade, the foremost of Ukraine’s four helicopter brigades, gave reporters access to a combat unit for two days recently.

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