Slovakia is still in talks with Russia to continue cooperation on the MiG-29 fighters operation, used by country’s armed forces, Speaker of the Slovak Parliament Andrej Danko said, RIA Novosti reports with reference to local media.
"Indeed, we must continue using the MiGs until we get new planes. What's bad about it? Do we have to stay without airspace defense, don’t we? And MiGs can fly some more time," the MP noted.
At the same time, Danko did not confirm reports that appeared earlier in the media that a 250-million-EUR worth aircraft maintenance contract could be signed for five years. According to the speaker, this issue is under the responsibility of the minister of defense.
Recall, 10 MiG-29 aircraft entered the Slovak Air Force disposal following the Czechoslovakia dissolution, and another 14 vehicles were transferred by the Russian side to cover its debt in 1994-1996. Later, all aircraft were upgraded with the help of Russian specialists, increasing their maintenance period. At the same time, MiG servicing costs the Slovak budget 50 million EUR each year.
As EADaily reported earlier, currently, a dispute is underway in Slovakia whether it is worth continuing to use Soviet MiGs, or they should be replaced by planes manufactured in other NATO countries. As an alternative, Swedish multi-role Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters, as well as F-16 manufactured in the USA, are considered. In early April 2018, Washington approved a possible sale of F-16 fighters to Slovakia, as well as air missiles and bombs for a total of $ 2.91 billion. According to the US military department, the republic "intends to replace its current fleet of MiG-29 fighters."
At the same time, in late April, the head of the Slovak Defense Ministry Peter Gajdoš said that the operation of Mi-17 helicopters that are part of the Slovak air force will be suspended because "unoriginal" spare parts were found in them. After that, the inspection of all Mi-17s, which are in Slovak Air Force service at the Kuchyňa and Sliac air bases, had begun. It is noteworthy that earlier the USA offered to allocate $ 46 million for modernization of these bases.