U.S. to send MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine, but as a source of spare parts

Gastón Dubois

MiG-29 para Ucrania

The Biden administration has reportedly sold old ex-Moldovan MiG-29 fighters to Kiev to serve as a source of spare parts to maintain it´s remaining aircraft.

According to different media reports, the MiG-29 fighters that Ukraine will receive are not in flying condition, and are part of a purchase made by the United States in 1997 from Moldova, for about twenty units.

Some time ago, some of these old MiG-29s were put in flight conditions to be used as aggressors in simulated air-to-air combat in order to train American fighter pilots.

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US Defense Department spokesman John Kirby, without wanting to go into details about the type of aircraft supplied to Ukraine or their operational status, commented as follows; “They have more fighter aircraft at their disposal today than they did two weeks ago.” “Without going into details about what other countries are supplying, I would say they have received additional aircraft and spare parts to augment their fleet,” he then added.

Aid increases, but the fighter jets Kiev asks for are not arriving

Although Western countries have been gradually increasing their military aid to Ukraine, incorporating more and more heavy equipment, such as self-propelled howitzers, mine-resistant armored vehicles and even Mi-17 helicopters among their deliveries, the demand for modern fighter jets remains unsatisfied.

For weeks now, Kiev has been asking it´s Western allies to supply it with modern fighters. The possibility of transferring MiG-29s from Poland, Bulgaria or Slovakia was first considered, but the risk of escalating the conflict was deemed unacceptable by Washington, which did not approve the operation.

MiG-29 para Ucrania
MiG-29UB being loaded into an USAF C-17 for its journey to the U.S. Photo courtesy DoD.

Then Ukraine asked for Western fighters such as the F-16, F-18 or even the F-15, arguing that its pilots could adapt to the new mount in a matter of weeks, but this option received even less consideration than the previous one.

Finally the Ukrainian Air Force pilots decided to take matters into their own hands, adopting an original tactic.

Using the massive power of the Internet and social networks, they directly appealed to the world’s millionaires (who were sympathetic to their cause) to privately acquire and transfer the fighters they needed to stay in the fight, under the #Buymeafighterjet initiative.

Spare parts never come amiss, but the Air Force wants more aircraft, because it is convinced that only by disputing Russia’s air superiority can it win the war.

So far, this shipment of MiG-29 Fulcrums from the United States is the closest Ukraine has come to getting the coveted fighter aircrafts.

It is not what the Ukrainian Air Force is asking for and needs, but it is evidence that military assistance is increasing, and the level of commitment of Western countries in this war is increasing. If the Ukrainian defenders can buy enough time (paid for at a high cost in lives), the needed fighters could eventually arrive in the medium term. It is a race against the clock.

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