Czechia and Poland have agreed to protect Slovakian airspace while the country grounds its ageing MiG-29 fighter jets.
On July 3, 2022, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the country is “ready” to assist Slovakia in defending its airspace until the Slovakian Air Force receives its order of F-16 fighter jets.
“It is a beautiful example of trust and cooperation. We’ll be happy to do that,” Fiala said according to local media.
Poland’s readiness to share this mission with Czechia was confirmed in April 2022, when Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak discussed the details of the arrangement in a meeting with his Slovakian counterpart.
Slovakia’s agreement with the neighboring countries will allow it to ground its fleet of ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 jets, a move the country has been considering for some time.
Additionally, reports emerged in June suggesting that Slovakia is ready to transfer the grounded aircraft to Ukraine on the condition that its neighbors would temporarily take over the defense of the country’s airspace.
In a separate televised address on July 3, Fiala confirmed the reports, however, emphasized that details would not be disclosed.
According to unofficial sources, the Slovak Air Force maintains at least six operational MiG-29s, including one training aircraft.
In 2018 it ordered 14 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighter jets in the latest Block 70/72 configuration. Delivery of the aircraft is due to begin in 2023.