Slovakia on Thursday said it had transferred the first four of the MiG-29 fighter jets it had promised Ukraine, with nine others to follow in the coming weeks.
"The first four MiG-29 fighter jets have been safely handed over to the Ukrainian armed forces," Slovak defence ministry spokeswoman Martina Kakascikova said.
"In the coming weeks, the rest of the planes will be handed over," she added.
Slovakia announced on Friday that it would donate the Soviet-made MiG warplanes to Ukraine, making it the second NATO member -- following Poland -- to pledge the aircraft.
All-in-all it promised 10 operational MiG-29 fighter jets and an additional three to be used as spare parts.
It also said it would send part of a KUB air defence system to Ukraine.
Slovakia plans to replace the jets with American F-16s, and the changeover should take place no later than January 2024.
Bratislava opted to stop using its MiGs last year since they were dependent on Russian technicians and companies.
The Czech Republic and Poland have since been protecting its airspace. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Slovakia last week for the "powerful package of air & air defence weapons."
Ukraine recently declined to confirm to AFP the number of MiG-29s it has in operation, but according to the World Air Forces 2023 report by Flight Global released at the end of last year, the country operated 43 of the aircraft.
On Thursday, Slovakia revealed that it had received a US offer of $1 billion in helicopters and missiles at a discounted rate in compensation for the warplane donation to Ukraine.
It said it would only have to pay around $340 million for the package, which includes 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters with accessories, pilot and technician training, along with more than 500 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
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