Britain ‘ready to send jets to Poland’ to ramp up country’s air defences

poland fighter jets - RADOSLAW JOZWIAK/AFP via Getty Images
poland fighter jets - RADOSLAW JOZWIAK/AFP via Getty Images

Britain is ready to help Poland fill its air defence gaps caused by Warsaw sending some of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the Armed Forces minister has said.

Last week, Poland said it would send four of the jets to Ukraine in the coming days, making it the first of Kyiv’s allies to provide such aircraft.

James Heappey, Armed Forces Minister, told the German newspaper Welt that Britain would be able to ramp up Poland’s air defence equipment, as it previously did when Poland sent T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine, by sending Challenger 2 tanks

He said: “We will look very positively at a Polish request to fill in the gaps that have arisen,” but added that Warsaw has not yet asked.

As well as the four jets from Poland, Ukraine will receive several more MiG-29 warplanes from Slovakia.

Nato allies

Its fleet of 11 MiG-29 planes was retired last summer, and most are not operational but those that are will be sent and the rest will go for spare parts.

Slovakia ordered F-16 fighter jets from the United States in 2018 to replace the ageing MiG-29 planes. The first US-made planes are expected to arrive in 2024 after a delay.

Kyiv believes warplanes like the MiG-29, which it already operates, are crucial to repelling Russia’s year-long invasion.

Nato allies in the former communist east such as Poland and Slovakia have been particularly vocal supporters of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022.