Polish Vipers would temporarily replace the capabilities of the Slovak Fulcrums.
According to Polish defense journalist Marek Świerczynski, quoting the head of the Slovak MoD via his Twitter account, Poland would provide air policing to Slovakia, as its southern neighbour is getting ready to phase out its Fulcrums.
Head of the Polish MoD, Mariusz Błaszczak, was visiting Slovakia, to meet his counterpart, Jaroslav Nad, on Apr. 29, 2022. The officials were to discuss the military relations between the nations, and the cooperation established within the framework of NATO, along with regional security and the ongoing efforts to support Ukraine. Poland and Slovakia have been, for years now, trying hard to redefine the NATO eastern flank security efforts. The countries would like to integrate the local assets – for instance when it comes to counterintelligence or joint training. Industrial cooperation has also been on the table.
Minister obrony Słowacji poinformował, że Polska będzie chronić przestrzeń powietrzną Słowacji, jeśli ta “uziemi” swoje samoloty MiG-29. Minister Nad podziękował za to ministrowi Błaszczakowi, ustalenia zapadły w czasie wizyty polskiego ministra w Bratysławie.
— mswierczynski (@mswierczynski1) April 29, 2022
According to Świerczyński, Błaszczak announced that two Polish F-16s would patrol the sky over Slovakia, flying from a Polish airbase, as a part of QRA duty, and should a need emerge, an airbase in Slovakia would be made available for use by the Polish Vipers. When asked about Renegade-type scenarios, Nad said that this is still going to be discussed, based on the baseline cross-border operations agreement. A technical agreement is to be signed, but for now, the Slovak MoD would be the decisive body here. Błaszczak recalled the experience that the Polish Air Force has gathered throughout the Baltic Air Policing effort over the years. The head of the Polish MoD said that he is willing to employ a similar set of rules here.
Nad, Świerczyński reports, was also asked about the Slovak MiG-29s, but he said that any transfer is an idea that could be considered only after Poland is made capable of defending the Slovak airspace.
This situation would be temporary, we certainly will not see a long-term air policing support on the part of the Polish Air Force, as Slovakia has decided to procure its own F-16s. USD 800 million contract was signed between Slovakia and US DoD back in 2019 (FA8615-19-C-6053). It concerns 14 F-16 Block 70 jets that would replace the Slovak Fulcrums. It needs to be said that before that, in 2018, the Slovak MoD had also been considering procurement of JAS-39C/Ds. Nonetheless, it went with the F-16s. In the region, Poland also operates the Vipers.