Slovakia’s MiG-29 to Ukraine: A tribute to former Soviet soldiers

It is highly likely that Slovakia’s MiG-29s will be delivered to Ukraine in the not too far future.

Since September, Polish F-16s have begun to protect Slovakian airspace. In another move, the Slovak Government signed a contract with the United States to purchase 14 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 multirole fighters worth 1.58 billion euros in December 2018. This opens way for the decommissioning of Slovakia’s obsolete MiG-29 fleet. Slovakia’s MiG-29 fleet consists of 11 aircraft: 9 MiG-29AS and 2 MiG-29UBS.

Western allies continue to supply Ukraine with all possible weapons, including obsolete Soviet weapons. It is highly likely that Slovakia’s MiG-29s will be delivered to Ukraine in the not too far future. Information about Slovakia’s delivery of its fighters to Ukraine first appeared in the summer. At that time, the Minister of Defense of the country, Jaroslav Naď, said that the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine could not be decided only by Slovakia, but required agreement with partners.

The MiG-29AS is an upgrade of the MiG-29A for Warsaw Pact countries. Slovak Air Force performed an upgrade on their MiG-29s for NATO compatibility from 2005. The aircraft now has navigation and communications systems from Rockwell Collins, an IFF system from BAE Systems, new glass cockpit features multi-function LC displays and digital processors and also fitted to be integrate with Western equipment in the future. However, the armaments of the aircraft remain unchanged.

Developed in the 1970s of the last century by the Mikoyan design bureau, the MiG-29 fighter had its first flight in 1977, before being officially put into service in 1982. A MiG-29 was once for sale by Russia for $ 30 million, but now in the markets, the MiG-29 is no longer as popular as before because of its limited payload and range. The MiG-29 has a ceiling of 18 km and a range of 1,430 km. The fighter has an empty weight of 11 tons, and a maximum take-off weight of 18 tons, which is considered a light multirole fighter, performing combat missions in conjunction with the Su-27 fighter.

Powered by two Klimov RD-33 turbofan engines, with 49.42 kN dry thrust each, and 81.58 kN with afterburner. These engines help the MiG-29 to reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.4, corresponding to 2,450 km / h. The standard MiG-29 is equipped with Phazotron RLPK-29 fire control radar system that allows to track fighter aircraft targets from a distance of 70km ahead and 35km behind.

At the present time, the MiG-29 has many shortcomings compared to other modern fighters. Slovakia’s decommissioning of the MiG-29 squadron is a logical choice, and of course Ukraine is the next beneficiary. As a very small country, Slovakia is among the military sponsors of Ukraine.

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