MiG-29 Fighter Jet and Its Delivery to Ukraine: Important Facts

Poland recently announced the delivery of four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, making it the first North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) country to do so. The move is seen as a significant step towards military backing for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

A Brief History of MiG-29 Fighter Jets

The MiG-29 fighter jet is a single-seat twin-engine air-to-air fighter used for conducting ground attacks. It belongs to a family of Soviet military fighter aircraft developed by a design bureau founded by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich in 1939. The fighter jet was first introduced in 1983.

Poland’s Delivery of Fighter Jets to Ukraine

The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, announced the delivery of the MiG-29 fighter jets, which were inherited from East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The MiGs are coming to the end of their working lives after 30 years but are still in working order. Currently, more Polish MiGs were being serviced and repaired in preparation for being handed to Ukraine. In all, Poland has 28 MiG-29s, which are to be replaced over the next few years by South Korean FA-50s and US F-35s.

Until now, Ukraine’s backers in NATO have only provided spare parts for its fleet of Soviet-era warplanes, amid fears that delivering functioning planes to Ukraine would be seen by Moscow as direct participation in the war. A year ago, Poland offered to hand over all its MiGs to the US at its airbase in Ramstein, Germany, so they could be passed on to Ukraine, but Washington rejected the plan.

Other NATO Members’ Response

Slovakia, Finland, and the Netherlands have all said they would consider supplying Ukraine with warplanes. The US and UK have so far refused to supply their F-16s and Typhoon combat aircraft respectively, on the grounds that they require too much training, ground support, and long, smooth runways to be of any short-term help to Ukraine. However, the UK has offered to provide air cover for any eastern European country willing to supply Kyiv with Soviet-era jets.

Some European countries have adopted a policy of ambiguity over what they might provide if Russia sustains its war in Ukraine over the long term. The experience of the last 12 months is that what was considered impossible, too dangerous, potentially escalatory, useless in terms of Ukrainian needs, and so on has proven to be absolutely necessary and urgent a few months later.

Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

Ukraine is expected to attempt to make a military breakthrough in the spring and summer and is trying to build a well-equipped force with western-trained recruits and western-supplied weapons. But deliveries of Leopard tanks and other equipment have been slower than Kyiv had hoped, and its army has lost many of its experienced soldiers in the battle of attrition under way on the eastern front. The supply of fighter jets would accelerate the liberation of Ukrainian territory.




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