Military Aviation

Germany approves Polish request to send 5 MiG-29s to Ukraine (the Fulcrums are former East German MiG-29s)

According to German rules, the weapons that it sells require approval from Berlin if the receiving country wants to send them on to a third country.

The German Defense Ministry confirmed on Apr. 13, 2023 that Poland’s formal request to Germany for permission to send five Cold War-era MiG-29 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum) fighter jets to Ukraine has been given the green light.

As reported by DW.com, according to German rules, the weapons that it sells require approval from Berlin if the receiving country wants to send them on to a third country.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said after the decision was made in Berlin: “I welcome the fact that we in the federal government have reached this decision together. This shows Germany can be relied on!”

Polish President Andrzej Duda recently said that Poland had already sent eight of the jets to Ukraine after first announcing the plan in March, but the MiG-29s they want to now deliver come from old East German stocks.

As already reported, Ukraine has been calling for the delivery of fighter jets to better defend against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The Soviet-made planes formerly belonged to East Germany and 22 were transferred to Poland in 2003.

Duda’s security adviser Jacek Siewiera said that a dozen of the jets were still in Poland.

However, Pistorius said that while it makes sense to send these MiGs to Ukraine, Germany’s decision does not indicate a change in policy on supplying Western-made jets. According to Pistorius, the MiG-29s can be deployed by Ukrainian forces immediately, as they are known, and can be flown without the need for a transition period, with maintenance and repair services also readily available.

As we have already explained, calls for Western fighter jets have increased since Germany and the US agreed to send Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks to Ukraine respectively.

Although the MiG-29s may provide some relief to Ukraine, they are unlikely to satiate its demands.

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Andriy Melnyk, has previously called for “a powerful fighter jet coalition for Ukraine,” comprising US-made F-16s and F-35s, Eurofighter, Tornado, Rafale and Gripen warplanes.

Designed in response to a new generation of American fighters, which included the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18, the MiG-29 Fulcrum presented a formidable threat to Western pilots.

Among the countries that purchased the Fulcrum there was also East Germany. Luftwaffe (German Air Force) MiG-29s were kept in service also after German reunification and were used not only for national Quick Reaction Alert (QRA)service but also as adversary aircraft during NATO air exercises, where the MiG-29 showed its tremendous air to air capabilities.

In 2003 22 (out of the original 24 in service with East Germany) MiG-29s were sold to the Polish Air Force for a symbolic 1 EUR per Fulcrum.

Photo credit: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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