Ukraine to Get Fighter Jet Boost

Ukraine may receive NATO-supplied fighter jets soon, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday, announcing that Warsaw could be providing the aircraft to Kyiv "in the coming four to six weeks."

Slovakia's defense minister, Jaroslav Nad, previously said that Bratislava and Warsaw had jointly agreed to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Kyiv to aid in the fight against Russian forces. Last week, Nad wrote on Facebook that a "Polish colleague" confirmed the joint commitment of the two countries to furnish Ukraine with the additional aircraft.

"It's time to make a decision," he added in his post.

Polish President Andrzej Duda told CNN last week that Warsaw was "ready" to provide operational MiG-29 jets, adding that Ukrainian pilots would "be ready to use those planes instantly."

Polish MiG-29 fighter jets
Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets of the Polish Air Force take part in a NATO shielding exercise at the Lask Air Base on October 12, 2022, in Lask, Poland. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw could give Kyiv MiG-29 fighter jets in four to six weeks. Omar Marques/Getty Images

Poland was quick to offer MiG-29 jets at the outbreak of full-scale war with Russia last year, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised as a show of "readiness to provide Ukraine with combat aircraft."

"Do not shift the responsibility, send us planes," Zelensky said on March 9, 2022.

Ukraine's air force already operates the twin-engine Soviet-era MiG-29 jets, and Slovakia indicated months ago that it was willing to send additional aircraft to replace the MiG-29 supersonic jets Ukraine has lost over the course of the war.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Germany's Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on March 12 that he did not "expect the delivery of fighter jets to happen anytime soon."

Duda also said he believed Ukraine's army would end up with F-16 fast jets, adding modern jets that would surely contribute to Kyiv's war effort. However, Ukraine was in more urgent need of artillery supplies, he said.

Kyiv has long called for fourth-generation fighters, such as the United States Air Force's F-16s, but Washington has so far resisted the demands for the advanced jets. Duda told CNN that training for Ukrainian pilots on the likes of F-16s was "necessary."

A U.S. military official confirmed earlier this month that two Ukrainian pilots had traveled to Arizona for a "familiarization event," which is "essentially a discussion between the Air Force personnel and an observation of how the U.S. Air Force operates."

The British government had committed to extending its training of Ukrainian forces to include fighter jet pilots during a visit by Zelensky to London in February. During the visit, Zelensky called for "wings for freedom," but no fourth-generation fighter jets have so far been promised.

This "will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future," Downing Street said on February 8.