​Slovakia Suspects russian Sabotage With MiG-29 Jets For Ukraine

MiG-29s of the Slovak Air Force / Open source illustrative photo
MiG-29s of the Slovak Air Force / Open source illustrative photo

Engine in Slovak aircraft worked for 70 flight hours instead of 350, Ministry of Defense says russian technicians may have tinkered with them

Slovakia bid farewell to its MiG-29 aircraft back in August last year and officially started delivering them to Ukraine about two weeks ago. It seemed like the story was over until some noteworthy details came out.

Jaroslav Naď, the country's Minister of Defense told Euractiv that russians working at the Sliač air base in Slovakia could possibly have sabotaged the operation of the MiG-29 fighter jets owned by the Slovak army before the transfer.

Read more: ​First MiG-29s From Slovakia Already Taking On Combat Missions in Ukraine – Media

"They were able to fly, but that doesn’t mean they were also capable of combat," Naď said, as reported. "The Ukrainians came to Slovakia a week before their departure, brought spare parts and inspected the planes."

The defense minister suggested that the problems with the aircraft might have been caused by russian technicians who worked at the air base until last year:

"There were parts in the engines of the aircraft that Slovak technicians accessed, and then there were parts that russian technicians only accessed. The defects appeared only in those parts accessed by russians."

Ukraine got four MiG-29AS jets
Ukraine already got four MiG-29AS jets from Slovakia, with more to come / Illustrative photo credit: Vzdušné sily OS SR

Former Slovak pilot Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda suggested the jets could be damaged intentionally, as he recalled an episode that happened with the engines of MiG-29s:

"We took over an engine from them that was supposed to last 350 hours. And in the end, it only flew 70 hours. What can we make of that? Maybe there was poor workmanship, let’s call it that. I don’t know," he stated in an interview for Denník N.

As noted, even police joined the investigation but it did not prove intention, yet the confidence in the russian technicians at Sliač was lost, Naď said, "because mistakes kept appearing in places only they could get to."

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