Slovakia to donate 13 MiG-29 jet fighters to Ukraine

 

The Government of the Slovak Republic on March 17 announced that it has decided to provide Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets that are grounded and no longer usable for Slovakia. In accordance with the UN Charter and good, friendly relations with Ukraine, it decided by consensus and fully with the Constitution of the Slovak Republic in favor of donating planes – protecting human lives.

The comprehensive delivery of the equipment is expected within the next few weeks. As confirmed by the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Eduard Heger, Slovakia provides MiGs to Ukraine to protect civilians from a large number of bombs. “Just as the S-300 system we provided saved thousands of lives, so will these fighter jets save thousands of lives,” he said. At the same time, he rejected nonsensical claims that this step is dragging Slovakia into war. “It is not so, the Slovak Republic is part of the strongest defense alliance in the world – NATO, and thanks to this alliance we are protected better than we have ever been in the history of the Slovak Republic and we will be even better,” he emphasized.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, Gen. Daniel Zmeko, who reconfirmed that the MiG-29 in the version that the Slovak Armed Forces are supposed to use will never be used again. He emphasized that Slovak MiG-29 fighters were last modernized in 1996, while the error rate of these machines at the time of the last operation was on average every 43 minutes.


The Slovakian Air Force acquired twelve MiG-29s in 1993, shortly after the country gained independence from Czechoslovakia. Since then, Slovakia has upgraded its MiG-29 fleet several times to improve its capabilities and extend its service life. In 2014, Slovakia signed a contract with the Russian state-owned company RAC MiG for a major upgrade of its MiG-29s. The upgrade included a new avionics suite, ωєαρσиs systems, and other improvements to enhance the aircraft’s combat capabilities.

The Slovakian Air Force has used its MiG-29s in various missions, including air policing, air defense, and tactical air support. The MiG-29 has also participated in several international military exercises and operations, such as the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission and the NATO-led operation in Kosovo.


The MiG-29 in the Ukrainian Air Force

In April 2014, during the military intervention in Crimea, 45 Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29s and 4 L-39 combat trainers were reportedly captured by Russian forces at Belbek air base. Most of the planes appeared to be in inoperable condition. In May, Russian troops dismantled them and shipped them back to Ukraine. On 4 August 2014, the Ukrainian government stated that a number of them had been put back into service to fight in the war in the east of the country.

In the evening of 7 August 2014, a Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29MU1, bort number 02 Blue, was shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired by pro-Russian rebels near the town of Yenakievo, and exploded in midair. The pilot ejected safely.


On 17 August 2014, another Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29, bort number 53 White, tasked with air-to-ground duties against separatists’ positions was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in the Luhansk region. The Ukrainian government confirmed the downing. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by friendly forces.

As of 2018, the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant began domestically upgrading the MiG-29 to have the multirole capability, known as the MiG-29MU2. In August 2020, Ukraine began negotiations with Elbit Systems to help modernize the MiG-29 fleet.

On 29 May 2020, Ukrainian MiG-29s took part in the Bomber Task Force in Europe with American B-1B bombers for the first time in the Black Sea region. In September 2020, B-52 bombers from the 5th Bomb Wing conducted vital integration training with Ukrainian MiG-29s and Su-27s inside Ukraine’s airspace.


During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Su-27s and MiG-29s were used as air superiority fighters, with ten MiG-29s reported lost on the ground and in the air.

In August 2022, a senior U.S. defense official disclosed that the Ukrainians have integrated the AGM-88 HARM missile onto their “MiG aircraft” with video evidence of AGM-88 missiles fired by upgraded Ukrainian MiG-29s released by the Ukrainian Air Force a few days later. 

On 13 October 2022, a Ukrainian MiG-29 crashed during a combat mission. Its pilot is claimed to have destroyed a Shahed-136 drone with his cannon, and it is believed the debris from the drone collided with the aircraft and forced the pilot to eject. Ukrainian sources claim that the pilot shot down five drones and two cruise missiles shortly before the crash. The downed MiG-29 was wearing a livery similar to that of the Ukrainian Falcons display team. According to the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation: “the jet collided with debris from a destroyed drone, which caused massive damage to it to the point where it crashed near a village in northeast Vinnytsia. The pilot managed to eject and is currently receiving treatment in the hospital.”
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