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Ukraine conflict: Czech agreement to defend Slovakian airspace paves way for MiG transfer to Ukraine

With the Czech Republic set to provide air defence cover for its neighbour, Slovakia is in a position to transfer its MiG-29s (pictured) to Ukraine. (Slovakian Air Force)

The Czech Air Force (Vzdusné Sily Armády Ceské Republiky: VSACR) is set to protect the airspace of its Slovakian neighbour in a move that could clear the latter to transfer its much-needed MiGs to Ukraine.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala made the disclosure on national TV on 3 July, saying that, from September Saab Gripen C fighters of the VSACR will perform air-defence duties across the airspace of Slovakia. Speaking at the same time, Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that the offer from the Czech government would provide a stopgap between the Slovak Air Force (Vzdušné sily Slovenskej Republiky: VSR) retiring its MiG-29s and receiving the first Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons on order, at the same time enabling the transfer of the MiGs to Ukraine.

Before the war, the Ukrainian Air Force had 44 MiG-29s listed in its inventory. Many or most of these aircraft are likely to have been destroyed. While many in NATO and the West insist that Ukraine's interests are best served by providing the country with ground-based manportable air-defence systems (MANPADSs), such as the Stinger, Kyiv has consistently said that what it needs is additional MiG-29s, which its pilots are trained to fly.

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