Ukraine may receive over 80 Soviet combat aircraft from the US

The US has reportedly snapped over 80 [81] combat aircraft, stemming from the Soviet-era, from an auction in Kazakhstan, according to the Kyiv Post. Eager to rejuvenate its air fleet, Kazakhstan parted with 117 fighter and bomber aircraft from the 70s and 80s. These include MiG-31 interceptors, MiG-27 fighter bombers, MiG-29 fighters, and Su-24 bombers. 

Watch: Su-24 was hit in the left engine by a missile and survived
Photo credit: 24Chasa

The total sale was made for one billion Kazakhstani tenge, which equates to roughly $2.26 million, as disclosed by the Post. This suggests that each plane was purchased for an average value of $19,300. 

Out of the bargain aircraft, 81 were bought by the US, as per the Ukrainian Telegram channel Insider UA and the Post. However, the US is remaining tight-lipped about its plans for these vintage warplanes. The Post speculated that they could see service in Ukraine, a territory familiar with such aircraft. The transactions were conducted via offshore companies, cited the Reporter, a Russian English language news service.

The Post also suggested that, considering Ukraine’s continued use of Soviet-era weaponry, these planes could potentially be used for parts, or ingeniously used as decoys at airfields. 

According to Airforce Technology, the Mikoyan MiG-31 was a supersonic interceptor initially engineered to protect Soviet airspace. The plane was paramount during the Cold War period. The MiG-27 fighter bomber, developed from the MiG-23, was instrumental in ground-attack missions and notably participated in conflicts such as the Soviet-Afghan War. The MiG-29, excelling in air-to-air warfare, was extensively exported and remains in use with various air forces to this day. 

Despite its age, the Su-24 — a tactical bomber capable under all weather conditions — continues to serve in several air forces, notably the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Ukrainian Air Force.

Once an integral part of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has traditionally maintained a robust alliance with Russia. However, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a significant political shift appears to be underway. Kazakhstan seems to be leaning more towards the West, sparking displeasure in some Russian circles. 

10 MiG-31s that cannot be upgraded are 'for immediate sale'
Photo credit: Reddit

According to an assessment by the Kyiv Post, Kazakhstan’s progressive enhancement of its military prowess runs in tandem with its escalating engagement with Western nations, suggesting a break from its historical Russian affiliations. 

During his trip to Kazakhstan in March 2023, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphatically expressed firm US support for “its independence, its territorial integrity”, as quoted by the AFP news agency. 

Prominent Russian propagandists have insinuated that Kazakhstan could be a potential target for Russia following the Ukraine invasion. 

10 MiG-31s that cannot be upgraded are 'for immediate sale'
Photo credit: Twitter

Russian TV commentator Vladimir Solovyov raised concerns, stating his country “must be aware of the fact that Kazakhstan could be the next issue due to a likely emergence of Nazi-like processes similar to Ukraine.”

The forging of agreements in areas like trade, education, environmental protection, and mineral resources manifests the strengthening bonds between Kazakhstan and Western nations. These bonds are crucial as Kazakhstan delicately maneuvers through geopolitical hurdles tossed by surrounding nations such as Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Iran. 

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls October 24 of last year, when numerous Kazakh media agencies reported an extensive sales initiative by the Kazakh government. This initiative involved decommissioned, Soviet-era aircraft stationed throughout their air bases.  

10 MiG-31s that cannot be upgraded are 'for immediate sale'
Photo credit: Twitter

The terms of sale were quite unique. The auctioned aircraft, often referred to as “boards,” have, according to reports, reached the end of their service life and are past the stage where upgrades may be beneficial. This renders them effectively useless or unable to provide “parts harvesting”. 

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