The first four Slovak MiG-29s were handed over to Ukraine on 23 March by Ukrainian pilots with the help of Slovak and Ukrainian personnel. The remaining aircraft will be transferred in the coming weeks, but no details have been provided for operational reasons.
The MiG-29s were upgraded between 2004 and 2006 with NATO-compatible communication and navigation systems, and have a projected service life until 2029-2035.
Slovakia has joined Poland in donating Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, a move that has been welcomed by Kyiv but condemned by Moscow.
Slovakia’s donation of 13 MiG-29s to Ukraine was announced on March 17, 2023, following an online meeting of the Slovak government. The decision was made in coordination with NATO allies, especially the United States, which has been providing military assistance and training to Ukraine since 2014 and which has ramped up since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
According to Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nagy, Slovakia is “on the right side” and has entered “modern world history in capital letters” with this gesture of timely assistance and sincere solidarity.
Ukraine has expressed its gratitude to Slovakia for its generous support, which will help strengthen its air defense capabilities and deter Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Slovakia’s donation was “a sign of true friendship” and “a demonstration of European values”. He also thanked Poland for its earlier pledge to supply four MiG-29s to Ukraine, which are expected to be delivered soon.
Russia, on the other hand, has reacted angrily to Slovakia’s decision, warning that it would “destroy” any MiG-29s that enter Ukrainian airspace. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such transfers were “a direct violation of international law” and “a provocation that could lead to a serious escalation”. He also accused NATO of trying to change the balance of power in Europe by arming Ukraine with outdated weapons.
The MiG-29 is a fourth-generation fighter jet that was developed by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s as a counterweight to Western aircraft such as the F-16 and F/A-18. It has a top speed of Mach 2.25 (2,400 km/h) and can carry up to eight air-to-air missiles or four air-to-surface missiles. It is still widely used by many countries around the world, including Russia itself.
However, some experts have questioned how effective these jets will be for Ukraine given their age and maintenance costs. They argue that Ukraine needs more modern equipment such as radars, drones and anti-aircraft systems to counter Russia’s superior air force. They also point out that Slovakia’s donation may have more symbolic than practical value for Ukraine’s defense.
Nevertheless, Slovakia’s gesture shows that it stands firmly with Ukraine in its struggle for sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression. It also demonstrates that NATO members are willing to share their resources and capabilities with their partners who face security threats from Moscow. It may also encourage other countries in Central and Eastern Europe who still possess Soviet-era weapons to follow suit and offer them to Ukraine.
Slovakia’s donation of MiG-29s to Ukraine is thus a significant step towards enhancing Europe’s security and stability in a time of uncertainty and tension. It sends a clear message to Russia that it cannot intimidate or coerce its neighbors without facing consequences from the international community. It also reaffirms Slovakia’s commitment to NATO values and principles such as democracy, human rights and collective defense.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is one of the most famous fighter jets in the world. It was designed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s to counter the new generation of American fighters such as the F-15 and F-16. The MiG-29 has a sleek and agile design, with two powerful engines and a large wing area that give it excellent maneuverability and performance. The MiG-29 can carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, rockets, bombs and a 30 mm cannon.
The MiG-29 entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983 and soon became a popular export aircraft for many countries around the world. The MiG-29 has seen combat action in several conflicts, such as the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the Yugoslav Wars and the Syrian Civil War. The MiG-29 has also been involved in several air-to-air engagements with other fighters, such as F-14s, F-15s, F-16s and Mirage 2000s.
The MiG-29 has been continuously upgraded and modernized over the years to keep up with changing threats and technologies. Some of the most advanced variants include the MiG-29M (Fulcrum-E), which features improved avionics, engines and weapons; the MiG-29K (Fulcrum-D), which is a naval version capable of operating from aircraft carriers; and the MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F), which is a multirole fighter with enhanced stealth features.
The MiG-29 is still in service with many countries today and remains a formidable opponent for any adversary. The MiG-29 is a testament to the skill and innovation of Soviet aviation engineers who created one of the most iconic fighters of all time.