BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—The first four of the 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighters Slovakia decided to give to Ukraine have been safely delivered to the Ukrainian Air Force, the Slovak Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.
The ministry said the fighter jets were flown from Slovakia to Ukraine by Ukrainian pilots with the support of the Slovak Air Force, Ukrainian personnel and others.
“appreciate [all] I was involved in a great professional job,” Defense Minister Yaroslav Nad said.
The ministry said the remaining MiG-29s will be handed over to the Ukrainian side in the coming weeks. He said he would not provide further details until they safely arrived in Ukraine.
The Slovak government on Friday approved a plan to give Ukraine 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, heeding Ukraine’s plea for fighters to help defend against a Russian aggression. became a member of NATO.
Slovakia grounded the MiGs in the summer due to a lack of spare parts and expertise to help maintain them. Fellow NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic intervened to monitor Slovak airspace.
Slovakia previously had a contract to purchase 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighters, but the delivery has been delayed by two years as the first aircraft arrive in early 2024.
The Slovak Ministry of Defense said Wednesday that the United States has provided Slovakia with 12 new military helicopters as compensation for fighter jets that European countries are providing to Ukraine. Under the proposal, Slovakia would pay her $340 million for the Bell AH-1Z attack chopper, making a deal worth about $1 billion. US foreign military funding covers the remaining $660 million,