Slovakia hands over remaining 9 of 13 promised fighter jets to Ukraine

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) – Slovakia has delivered the remaining nine of the 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets it promised to Ukraine, Slovakia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said the warplanes were transported overland in a “complicated logistical operation” for security reasons. The first four were flown from Slovakia to Ukraine by Ukrainian pilots on March 23.

“We are doing the right thing,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said in a statement

On March 17, the Slovak government approved a plan to surrender its entire fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, becoming the second NATO member to respond to Ukraine’s request for fighter jets to defend against the Russian invasion followed.

Slovakia retired its MiGs over the summer due to a lack of spare parts and maintenance expertise. Neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic, both NATO members, stepped in to patrol Slovakian airspace.

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Replacements for the MiG-29 are unlikely to arrive in another year. Slovakia had previously signed a deal to purchase 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets, but deliveries were delayed by two years as the first plane arrived in early 2024.

The United States has offered Slovakia 12 new military helicopters in compensation for warplanes handed over to Ukraine. As part of the bid, Slovakia would pay $340 million for the Bell AH-1Z attack choppers in a deal worth about $1 billion. US foreign military financing would cover the other $660 million,

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