Attrition: Ukraine Rescues MiG-29s

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February 19, 2015:   Despite the budget pressures and combat losses caused by the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine the Ukrainian Air Force continues to overhaul, refurbish, repaint and return to service more of its 80 Cold War era MiG-29 fighters. This refurbishment program began in 2009. By the end of 2013 seven refurbished MiG-29s had been delivered. But with the end of 2013 came the uprising that deposed the pro-Russian government and the start of the Russian campaign to take the Crimea and eastern Ukraine (Donbas). The refurb program has halted for several months while the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant (which did all the work) shifted to some revenue generating work via refurbishing some foreign (African) MiG-29s. By the end of 2014 three more refurbished MiG-29s were delivered to the Ukrainian Air Force.

When the war with Russia began in 2013 Ukraine had 80 MiG-29s but most of them had not flown since the 1990s because of money shortages and lack of perceived need. After all, Russia had guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the 1990s in order to get Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons. Ukraine also got a lot of cash (including the expense of removing the nukes and related equipment) from the West (mainly the U.S.). In early 2014 Russia tore up that promise and Ukraine is now hustling to get its decrepit MiG-29 fleet back into action. Two of the ten refurbished MiG-29s were shot down by Russian missiles in August 2014 and more may be lost as these jets are the best Ukraine has.

 

 

 


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