- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2023

Slovakia will get a fleet of U.S.-made attack helicopters in exchange for transferring its retired MiG-29 jet fighters to Ukraine. The deal also includes helicopter training and maintenance support along with ammunition, including the AGM-114 Hellfire II missile, the country’s defense minister said this week.

The U.S. offered to sell Slovakia 12 new AH-1Z Viper helicopters and AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles at “deeply discounted rates” in exchange for the MiG-29 “Fulcrum” jet fighters, Defense Minister Jaroslav Ned confirmed in a statement.

“This offer is hugely advantageous and will significantly increase Slovakia’s defense potential,” Mr. Ned said. “Currently, we have no combat helicopters, so it would be a completely new combat capability.”

The first four of 13 Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters have been transferred to Ukraine’s air force. On Thursday, they were flown from Slovakia to Ukraine, officials said.

The value of Slovakia’s new helicopter package is estimated at more than $1 billion. About $660 million will be provided through the U.S. Defense Department’s Foreign Military Financing Program. Bratislava will pay about $340 million from the country’s defense budget over the next 3-4 years, Slovak officials said.

The deal could be perceived as “indirect compensation” from the U.S. government for a delay in the delivery of F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters ordered for the Slovak Air Force, Mr. Ned said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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