Polish authorities announced that they have delivered eight MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, and six more in the near future.
The move comes about two weeks after Slovakia announced its commitment to deliver four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. In total, Poland and Slovakia plan to deliver up to 33 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, 20 from Poland and 13 from Slovakia.
Polish MiG-29 fighters have been modernized to NATO standards. With a fleet of more than 30 MiG-29s, the combat capability of the Ukrainian Air Force will be significantly upgraded. The first Polish MiG-29s were acquired from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and then Russia. A total of 32 aircraft were put into service. Poland has now replaced the MiG-29 with the F-16 Fighting Falcon since the early 2000s. The last MiG-29 was retired in 2020, after more than 30 years of service.
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. 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.
During its career, the MiG-29 played an important role in the Polish air defense and took part in a number of international and NATO military exercises. Polish leaders said that Ukrainian pilots were familiar with the MiG-29. They can be put into operation immediately without further training.
Ukraine wants to be supplied with US-made modern fighters such as the F-16, but the problem lies in the fact that Ukrainian pilots have been trained to fly MiGs since the Soviet era. And the operation of Western fighters will require a lot of time for training, while the battlefield situation is urgent. So the MiG-29 is still the better choice.