Ukraine’s SSU successfully halted the illegal sale of aircraft components stolen from a Ukrainian enterprise to Russian military interests in a daring operation. 

The stolen parts, including starter generators and aircraft pumps for MiG-29 multi-purpose fighters, were valued at over Hrv10m ($268,000).

The SSU’s efforts led to the prevention of a potentially damaging transaction involving stolen military equipment. The investigation revealed that a criminal from Dnipro, who pilfered the components from a manufacturer’s warehouse in 2019, played a key role in attempting to sell these items.

The stolen goods had been entrusted to a local businessman for ‘storage’ and subsequent sale. Concealing the aircraft components within his service station for an extended period, the businessman advertised them on a specialised website when he decided to part with the illicit merchandise.

According to GlobalData’s “The Global Military Fixed Wing Aircraft Market 2023-2033” report, the Ukraine crisis has significantly crippled the Russian supply chain, whether commercial aviation or defence.

Interest from representatives of the Russian military-industrial complex, seeking spare parts for their combat aircraft, intensified the situation’s urgency. The SSU documented the illegal activity, halting the equipment’s sale to potential adversaries.

During searches at the suspect’s service station, the SSU seized a cache of military hardware, including ten aircraft pumps, two starter generators, and 1,000 additional components. Criminal proceedings have been initiated under Article 209.3 of the CCU, focusing on money laundering by an organised group on a particularly large scale. Offenders could face up to 12 years in prison pending the ongoing investigation.

The SSU’s examination of the aircraft equipment confirmed its suitability for combat conditions, prompting a court decision to hand over the seized items to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The entire investigation has been conducted under the procedural supervision of the Prosecutor General’s Office, showcasing a collaborative effort to safeguard Ukraine’s military assets.

Last month, Ukraine’s Security Service (SSU) dismantled two transnational smuggling networks attempting to export military aircraft components, preventing equipment transfer illicitly. 

In a multi-region operation, the SSU thwarted the illegal export of MiG-29 fighter aircraft components, apprehending three dealers attempting to sell stolen spare parts to Asian customers. Simultaneously, another smuggling scheme involving components for Mi-8 helicopters was exposed in the Kirovohrad region.