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Ukraine conflict: Kyiv increases available aircraft fleet

Ukraine has been able to increase the number of aircraft at its disposal, with spares and assistance provided by the US. It is not clear if this includes the MiG-29 fleet (pictured), although maintaining the serviceability of these fighters is a high priority for Kyiv. (Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

Ukraine has increased its fleet of available aircraft, having received new parts and assistance from the United States and international allies.

The Ukrainian Air Force said on 20 April that it had not received new aircraft – contrary to earlier media reports based on a briefing by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby – but had returned to operational service some undisclosed aircraft types.

“Ukraine did not receive new aircraft from partners!” the Ukrainian Air Force said on its official Twitter account. “With the assistance of the US government, [the Ukrainian Air Force] received spare parts and components for the restoration and repair of the fleet of aircraft in the armed forces, which will allow to put into service more equipment,” it added.

Kirby's statement on 19 April did not explicitly refer to the delivery of new fighter aircraft, although many media outlets interpreted it that way as Kyiv has consistently been requesting that NATO countries operating the MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum' send those fighters to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force's depleted fleet.

Several attempts to have Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovakia transfer their MiG-29s to Ukraine have not come to fruition. Most recently in early March, a Polish plan to transfer its entire fleet of MiG-29 was nixed almost as soon as it was announced, with the US government saying that the proposal to ship the aircraft via the Ramstein Air Base in Germany was not tenable.

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