Poland and Czech to protect Slovak airspace as ageing MiGs are retired

FILE: Slovak Air Force MiG-29 goes through a water gate during an airshow in Malacky, Slovakia, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.Petr David Josek / Associated Press

Poland and the Czech Republic have agreed to protect Slovakia’s airspace as the country seeks to retire its 11 Soviet-era fighter planes.

At an air show this weekend, the defence ministers from the three countries signed the agreement which will allow the Polish and Czech air forces to patrol Slovak skies until the arrival of newer, more modern planes.

The promise of protection comes as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its seventh month. The deal also aims to ensure a quick response in case of air border violations on Slovak territory.

The Russian MiG-29s will be replaced by American F-16s and are set to be delivered in 2024.

The Slovak defence minister, Jaroslav Nad said that the decommissioned fleet might be donated to its neighbour Ukraine under certain conditions. Since February, the eastern European nations have feared potential spillovers onto their respective territories.