The ex-Slovak Air Force MiG-29s should be delivered in the next few weeks.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced on Mar. 17, 2023, that the Government of Slovakia has approved the transfer of 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. The combat aircraft will be transferred in the next few weeks as part of the military aid provided by Slovakia to Ukraine “to defend itself and the entire Europe against Russia”.
#Slovak gov. just approved sending 13 #MiG29s to #Ukraine! Promises must be kept&when @ZelenskyyUa asked for more #weapons incl. fighter jets, I said we’ll do our best. Glad others’re doing the same. #Military aid’s🔑to ensure🇺🇦can defend itself&the entire #Europe against #Russia
— Eduard Heger (@eduardheger) March 17, 2023
Ukraine has been asking for fighter jets to repel the Russian forces since the beginning of war last year. On Mar. 16, 2023, Polish President Andrzej Duda confirmed that the first four Polish Air Force MiG-29s are going to be transferred to Ukraine within 4-6 weeks. Slovakia has now joined Poland, becoming the first two countries to officially commit to delivering Soviet-era MiG-29 Fulcrum combat aircraft to Kyiv.
The donation of MiGs to Ukraine is a matter that has long been in the works. In April 2022, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his country could send MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, but did not elaborate. Later, in early July, he said Slovakia could send its Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets and tanks to Ukraine, but again, the transfer did not occur. On Feb. 9, 2023, Heger promised that the Slovak authorities would do everything possible to hand over fighter jets to Ukraine. In the end, he kept his promise.
When they were retired in August last year, the Slovak Air Force operated a fleet of 12 MiG-29 fighter jets in the Air Defense role with the 1st Fighter Squadron at Sliač Air Base. These are going to be replaced by 14 F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft ordered in 2018. The first Vipers were supposed to arrive in the country in 2022/23 but are now scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2024. To address the lack of fighter jets, the government of the Czech Republic approved the Slovak request for help to protect Slovak airspace.
Back to the former Slovak Air Force MiG-29s, it’s not clear how long it will take to make those aircraft airworthy again and whether any modification will be needed to induct them into active service with the Ukrainian Air Force. However, what’s certain, is that the Ukrainian pilots will need no additional training to fly these fighters, considering the Fulcrums are already being used by the Ukrainian Air Force in various roles, including the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses), thanks to the integration of the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile).
Therefore, in little more than one month, the Ukrainian Air Force should get 17 Fulcrums to replenish its stock and replace the examples lost in the fighting.