Slovakia considers transferring its MiG-29 jets to Ukraine

26 July, 03:10 PM
МiG-29 (Photo:Armed Forces USA via Wikipedia)

МiG-29 (Photo:Armed Forces USA via Wikipedia)

Slovakia may transfer its 11 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine by the end of August, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said on July 25, following a meeting with his UK counterpart Ben Wallace.

Slovakia has already reached an agreement with Poland and Czech Republic, which would see them patrol and secure Slovak airspace.

“The decision hasn’t been made yet; the matter is not under discussion right now, and we’re ready to talk about it later,” said Nad.

Wallace added that while the UK is not currently considering providing Ukraine with warplanes, London is prepared to offer Slovakia fighter jets to patrol its airspace.

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Slovak PM Eduard Heger mentioned sending jets to Ukraine earlier in July. Czech PM Petr Fiala confirmed then that his country is ready to patrol Slovak skies while Bratislava procures and deploys a fleet of its own F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging Mig-29s.

Ukraine has been asking its Western partners for warplanes from the very beginning of the Russian invasion.

Slovakia’s 11 jets would be a significant contribution to the war effort.

Analysis by BBC’s Pavlo Aksyonov

Fighter jets are at the top of Ukraine’s security assistance wishlist.

Russia has always had a significant air advantage over Ukraine, although, it has struggled to capitalize on it thus far, remaining constrained by Ukrainian surface-to-air missile batteries.

Ukraine’s air force, on the other hand, is facing overwhelming odds, having to contend with both Russian anti-air defenses and interceptors, which tend to be more numerous and more modern.

Open sources can’t give us an accurate picture of air losses of both sides, but it’s clear that Ukraine needs a variety of warplanes.

The potential influx of MiG-29 fighter jets is good news for Kyiv.

Ukraine needs any jets it can get its hands on, and Ukrainian pilots are already familiar with MiG-29s.

Slovak MiGs could be a kind of an “emergency” measure to relieve Ukraine’s struggling air force, as they could be transferred within a month, it would seem.

Kyiv could eventually get F-16 air superiority fighters, as U.S. Congress is about to approve a program to train Ukrainian pilots to fly these planes.

It’s still early days, so it’s unclear when F-16s could enter service in Ukraine, or even if they will be the eventual plane of choice.

And while the MiG-29 is inferior to F-16, Ukraine hardly has other short-term solutions available. Modern UAVs are still not quite up to the task of air-to-air engagements, and even their air-to-surface armaments are much more modest compared to crewed warplanes.

Even 11 jets would be rather significant. It would be enough for a full new squadron. According to open sources, Ukraine operated between 43 and 37 MiG-29s before the war, although it’s uncertain how many of them were actually combat-ready.

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