UK offers to help Poland protect its airspace following donation of MiG-29s to Ukraine

As reminded by Laurent Lagneau in Opex360, Poland announced last week that it would donate four MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets to Ukraine, with six more to come. Slovakia also followed suit, indicating that it would donate 13 similar aircraft that were retired on August 31st, 2022, after an agreement with Warsaw and Prague was reached to secure their airspace.

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UK offers to help Poland protect its airspace following donation of MiG 29s to Ukraine Four Tranche 1 Typhoons fly over RAF Coningsby in the days when they made up the RAF’s fleet (circa 2009). The one in the foreground wears the colors of 29(R) Squadron, while the remainder are flying with 3(F) Squadron  (Picture source: British MoD)

In an interview with Die Welt (Germany), James Heappey, the UK's Minister for the Armed Forces, stated that UK's attention is now on Poland, and that they would look favorably at a request from Poland to fill the gap left by the donation of the MiG-29s. He explained that the UK had provided Challenger 2 tanks when Warsaw first delivered T-72 tanks to Ukraine and that the same could be done for fighter jets. However, he also noted that the question was how much the UK would rebuild the military capabilities of the air forces that donated their equipment.

Unlike last year, Poland has not requested replacement fighter jets with equivalent operational capabilities for the MiG-29s donated to Ukraine. This is probably because of their recent purchase of 48 F/A-50 "Golden Eagle" light fighters from Korea Aerospace Industries.

Despite this, Mr. Heappey mentioned the possible transfer of Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon "Tranche 1" (Initial Operational Capability, Basic Air Defence Capability) jets to NATO members who donated their MiG-29s to Ukraine, but none of the countries involved expressed interest.