What is special about the MiG-29’s that Slovakia is giving to Ukraine? – Technology Org

Slovakia and Poland are sending their MiG-29 jet fighters to Ukraine. This generous military aid package will help Ukraine defend its airspace and, hopefully, launch counter-attacks against the Russian invaders. The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a Soviet-designed fighter jet, so what is so special about it?

Slovakia's MiG-29UBS.  This is an upgraded variant, made to fit within NATO standards.

Slovakia’s MiG-29UBS. This is an upgraded variant, made to fit within NATO standards. Image credit: Alf van Beem via Wikimedia

Well, to start with – not much. But that’s a good thing. The first MiG-29s entered service in 1983. Soon they started spreading across the Soviet Union. This means that Ukraine is quite familiar with them.

In fact, before the Russian invasion in 2022, Ukraine had around 70 MiG-29 fighters. They are still active, and the pilots and ground technicians are still there. This is a great relief, because integrating unfamiliar platforms is definitely not the right time. The F-16 might seem like a nicer choice, but training would take too long at this moment in time.

However, at the same time, Slovakia is donating very special MiG-29s. It is donating 13 MiG-29 fighters, which are of the AS and UBS variety.

They were upgraded in 2005-2008 to come closer to NATO standards. They have modern navigation and communications systems from Rockwell Collins, identification systems from BAE Systems, a new glass cockpit, and many other upgrades. That is to say that these fighter jets are not as old as they may seem to an unsuspecting eye – they are fairly modern and will provide Ukrainian pilots with a small look into the Western jet tech.

Slovakia's MiG-29 in 1996.

Slovakia’s MiG-29 in 1996. Image credit: TSGT. BRAD FALLIN via Wikimedia

As is, even the standard MiG-29 is quite an impressive fighter. 17.32 meters long with a wingspan of 11.36 meters, the MiG-29 is more compact than the Su-27. It can go faster than Mach 2.3 speeds and goes as high as 18 kilometers.

The MiG-29 can carry all kinds of missiles and bombs up to 4 tons of weight. Ukrainians even managed to attach an AGM-88 HARM to theirs. The MiG-29 was designed as an air superiority fighter, but it can be used to attack ground targets as well.

Slovakia has withdrawn its MiG-29s from service on 31 August 2022. It was immediately clear what is in stock for them – Slovakia was planning to transfer them to Ukraine. The entire of its operational MiG-29 fleet. In 2022 Slovakia also said it was looking for ways to do that and, apparently, it found some. Also, the package will include “several thousand” missiles – Slovakia won’t need them anymore anyway.

Slovakia is saying goodbye to its MiG-29 fleet.

Slovakia is saying goodbye to its MiG-29 fleet. In the picture – MiG-29AS in 2016. Image credit: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Will Slovakia be left without jet fighters? Well, no. It is going to be covered by its NATO allies. Also, it has 14 F-16 Fighting Falcons on order. The advantage of the F-16 is that it is a true multirole fighter, while the MiG-29 is more of an air-superiority aircraft with some ground attack capabilities.

Sources: Wikipedia, Theguardian.com

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