‘Surprise move’: US stunned by Poland’s offer to buy fighter jets

A senior administration official told POLITICO that the US intelligence community and the Department of Defense opposed the transfer of the Polish planes to Ukraine, due to the complications of getting them across the border and into the hands of Ukraine. Ukrainian pilots. The Polish government also did not consult its US counterparts before making the announcement.

A statement by Defense Department spokesman John Kirby reflected deep concern late Tuesday, saying “we do not believe the Polish proposal is an affordable one” and “only It’s simply not clear to us that there is a good reason for it.”

Kirby signaled a logistical problem: retooling the planes to allow non-NATO Ukrainian pilots to fly them, along with “the prospect of fighter jets… departing from US/NATO bases in Germany flying in. airspace is disputed with Russia over Ukraine He said.

However, the US is still in contact with the Polish government about this proposal.

Within minutes of the sudden announcement by the Polish Foreign Ministry, a top State Department official struggled to explain to Congress what had just happened.

“To my knowledge, their intention to deliver these planes to us was not consulted in advance,” Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. hospital on Tuesday. “I was in a meeting where I should have known about it right before I arrived,” Nuland said. “So I think it was really a surprise move by the Poles.”

In a statement posted on its website, the Polish Foreign Ministry offered to send all Russian-made MiG-29 fighters “immediately and free of charge” to the US airbase in Ramstein. , Virtue.

In return, the statement said, Warsaw “requests the United States to supply us with second-hand aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions for the purchase of the aircraft. “

Poland also called on other NATO allies operating the MiG-29 jets to “act in a similar way”.

Ukraine also uses MiG-29s and has suffered heavy losses since the Russian invasion late last month. Top Ukrainian officials have since asked other countries that operate the jets to hand over their MiG-29s, as that would mean minimal training for Ukrainian pilots.

By handing the planes over to the Americans instead of directly handing them over to the Ukrainians, the Polish government would overcome the logistical challenge of getting the jets across the border, although it’s unclear if the US will. whether or not the Polish aircraft could be legally accepted. .

Polish MiGs were upgraded in 2013 and 2014 with new avionics and other equipment to increase their lifespan, although the Polish Air Force has focused more on the squadron. Its growing F-16, along with 32 incoming F-35s, the first of which will arrive in 2024. Some of the sensitive, new technology installed on the MiGs will likely have to be removed before transferring to Ukraine.

A senior Defense Department official told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that Ukraine’s airspace was still disputed, with neither Ukrainians nor Russians in control of the skies.

“Ukrainians can still fly and conduct missile defense,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss current operations. “The Russians continue to fly and also have missile defense capabilities – very few Ukrainian countries are not covered by some Russian surface-to-air missile capabilities.”

The plane story begins just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, when European Union security chief Josep Borrell said Poland, along with other Eastern European countries, still uses Russian fighter jets, agreed to promptly hand over the aircraft to Ukrainian pilots.

That turned out not to be the case. Borrell later hit back at those comments, saying it was up to each country to decide and that Polish President Andrzej Duda had publicly rejected the deal.

However, US officials confirmed late last week that the possibility of a transfer was still under discussion. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States was working with Poland on a plan to supply MiG-29s to Ukraine and to “fill in whatever they give Ukraine,” on CNN’s “State of the Union.” the Union”.

However, Warsaw appears to have been dug up, with a government office tweeting on Sunday that “Poland will neither send its fighters to #Ukraine nor allow the use of its airports. . We help significantly in many other areas. ”

As for Poland’s request for American jets, it is likely that the country will receive F-16s in exchange for giving up its MiG-29s.

Other countries operating the MiG-29 include Slovakia and Bulgaria, although both countries last week rejected their intention to deliver the aircraft.

Slovakia’s small squadron of MiG-29s is the country’s only fighter, and the government doesn’t mind losing any air power until it signs an agreement with Poland to protect Slovakian airspace.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/03/08/poland-transfers-mig-fighters-to-the-us-as-ukraine-asks-for-help-00015259?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication ‘Surprise move’: US stunned by Poland’s offer to buy fighter jets

Fry Electronics Team

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