BBC is surprised by obsolete Slovak MIG fighter planes

The British BBC TV also wonders why Russian engineers maintain the fighter planes at a NATO base.

MiG-29MiG-29(Source: SME)

BBC TV has recently broadcast a report on Slovak fighter planes MiG-29, asking why a NATO member state still uses these obsolete machines.

The planes produced during the Cold War, some of which are 30 years old, are now deployed at the Sliač airport as part of the Slovak army (i.e. of a NATO member) and have to be maintained and repaired by Russian military engineers, reporter Rob Cameron mentioned. He added in the programme that according to insiders, they have problems with engines and the on-board system. Their condition thus requires maintenance by Russian engineers who are the only ones familiar with the technology.

Read also:Russian MiGs bring tension to the coalition

Turning to allies

While Slovak Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (SNS) does not perceive this situation as a threat to national security, security analyst Jaroslav Naď of the Slovak Security Policy Institute (SSPI) is of a different opinion, the Sme daily wrote on June 7.

He told BBC he believes that after 14 or 15 years of NATO membership, it is high time to get rid of the Russian equipment and focus on allies.

Read also:US presents F-16 aircraft in Bratislava

In February, Naď pointed out for the TASR newswire that the purchase of new fighter planes is suspiciously slow. Behind it, the analyst sees the ministry’s effort to play for time so they can later claim that the subscription agreement with Russia on rental of the fighter planes needs to be prolonged.

Pilots are now complaining that due to the MIGs’ technical problems, they do not have enough flight hours.

To be decided in June

Currently, the Defence Ministry has been deciding between two short-listed offers to buy new fighter planes. MIGs should be replaced either by Swedish JAS-39 Gripen planes, or by US F-16 fighter planes whose production has yet to be launched.

Read also:Conditions of Gripen jet fighters rental agreed

The Defence Ministry's decision, which has to be filed for approval to the parliament, should come by the end of June, Sme wrote.

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