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.

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Slovakia to provide 13 MiG 29 jet fighters to Ukraine 1 Slovakia will donate 13 of its MiG-29s withdrawn from its air force inventory (Picture source: Slovak government)

As part of the non-military intergovernmental agreement between Slovakia and Ukraine, 13 MiG-29s will be donated to it. In addition, the aid package will also include 2 pieces of launchers of the Kub anti-aircraft missile system, a control system and also related spare parts and missiles.

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.

As the Minister of Defense of the SR Jaroslav Naď confirmed, in addition to the compensation for the donated equipment from the European Peace Instrument, there is a bilateral offer from the United States of America for specific military equipment, the added value of which in financial terms is approx. 700 million. dollars. In total, this is compensation in the amount of approximately 900 million. euro "Of course, it is advantageous for the Slovak Armed Forces, for our defense capability, but the first thing is that, precisely in terms of the UN Charter and relations with Ukraine, we can help save lives - that is the main motive for being MiGs, which we can no longer do with any to use in a way, they gave it to Ukraine," said Minister of Defense of the SR Jaroslav Naď.

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.

"In the final phase of operating the MiGs, we did not have enough pilots. The rest of the pilots have lost all their capabilities for the rest of the time due to technical problems with ensuring the life cycle of the MiGs. Their operation was also a fundamental problem - even on the basis of a subscription contract, the operation oscillated somewhere at the level of four available MiGs for one operational day, which did not ensure the holding of cash to ensure the protection of the airspace or the training of new pilots. The availability of spare parts and the issue of ammunition were also critical. The donation of MiG-29s has practically zero impact on the defense capability of the Slovak Republic because we do not use them and will not use them in the future," said Gen. Goofy.

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, weapons 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.

Slovakia to provide 13 MiG 29 jet fighters to Ukraine 2 Ukraine Air Force's upgraded MiG-29MU1s received a digital camouflage (Picture source: Yura Tanchyn/

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.

During the initial days of the War in Donbas in April 2014, the Ukrainian Air Force deployed some jet fighters over the Donetsk region to perform combat air patrols and show-off-force flights. Probably due to the limited number of jet fighters available, a MiG-29 belonging to the Ukrainian Falcons display team was spotted armed with a full air-to-air load and performing a low-altitude fly-by.

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. Development was expected to be completed by 2019 and enter production in 2020. The first upgraded MiG-29 was delivered to the Ukrainian Air Force in July 2020. 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. For a weapon that relies on a digital display to fire, the question of how it has been integrated into the MiG-29’s analogue displays remains unanswered. The footage shows a commercial GPS having been installed along with a tablet of some kind.

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."