F-35 over Poland can transmit data to Soviet MiG-29 over Ukraine

WARSAW, POLAND — An exercise over Europe could provide an unexpectedly good combination to help the Ukrainian Air Force. It is a joint work on the transfer of data between the American stealth fighter of the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II and the Soviet fighter of the fourth generation MiG-29. Realistically, the F-35 could become a key player in Eastern Europe and the war in Ukraine.

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet
Photo credit: Twitter

A NATO exercise over Poland took place a few days ago. During this exercise, MiG-29s of the Polish Air Force and F-35s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force flew in joint pairs. Interestingly, this exercise had another purpose – training to perform Air Policing – a common air action not only in wartime but also in peacetime. F-16 and Rafale fighters also participated.

However, the exercise showed an unexpectedly good relationship between one of the pairs of F-35s and MiG-29s that took off from Malbork Air Base, Poland. The two fighters exchanged data and intercepted a hypothetical enemy target. In addition to the interception of conditional targets, the two fighters coordinated actions to secure the flights of two Polish cargo planes also participating in the exercise.

Data transfer

Many experts are already saying that the combination of a fourth-generation Soviet fighter and a fifth-generation Western fighter is quite intriguing. This is important because it could turn out to be an unsuspected opportunity for NATO, allies, and the Ukrainian Air Force.

Indian Air Force veteran and military expert Vijainder K. Thakur shares quite an interesting opinion. According to him, this exercise demonstrated the possibility of the F-35 transmitting data to the MiG-29, thus guiding it. Most likely, it is about detecting enemy targets that the outdated Soviet radar cannot detect today, but the F-35s can. Just as drones direct artillery fire, the F-35 can direct a shot at a MiG-29, although the target does not show up on the Soviet fighter’s radar.

The F-35 can use the MiG-29 by flying in position behind it, and the MiG-29 is actually the weapon system. Put in simpler terms: an F-35 stationed over Poland can transmit targeting data to Ukrainian MiG 29 fighters operating over Ukraine. Thus, the F-35 will not violate the airspace of Ukraine, and at the same time, even if it is detected by the radar by a Soviet fighter, it remains in the safe air zone of NATO. Thus, the F-35 becomes a visible sensor in a restricted area.

Poland has delivered MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine but in parts
Polish Air Force MiG-29 © Sunburn1979 on Wikimedia

It turns out that as far as they are technologically apart, the two fighters are as close as they are working in a joint operation. No such tests have been done so far, but the war in Ukraine has engaged many NATO military tacticians in seeking solutions to problems now emerging in wartime.

Dutch F-35s in Poland

It should be mentioned that despite the joint training, the two fighters are fundamentally different. First, their functionality is different. The MiG-29 is designed for air superiority, while the F-35 is a multi-role stealth fighter. The technology is so different that, according to some experts, even the most experienced MiG-29 pilot would have a hard time flying the F-35 without going through quite a long and serious training.

Eight Royal Netherlands Air Force [RNLAF] F-35 fighters are currently deployed in Poland. They are part of the NATO operation in the region for deterrent actions in case of a possible escalation of the war in Ukraine. These planes do not stay on the ground, but almost weekly conduct various pieces of training, or daily perform missions along the border with Ukraine.

Air operations of the Dutch F-35s are controlled by the Polish Air Operations Center in Warsaw and NATO’s Combined Air Operations Center in Wedem. According to information from various sources, some of the Dutch F-35s were on a mission to escort Russian aircraft flying near NATO areas over the Baltic Sea.

Future F-35's AIM-132 Block 6 missile has new British-built seeker
Photo: MBDA UK


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