Undeniably, Russia outnumbers and outguns the Ukraine on the ground, on the sea, and in the air. The latter matters because Ukraine’s air attacks have devastated Russian convoys. But beyond drones, Ukraine could use additional combat aircraft: both ground attack aircraft and fighter jets to try and defend Ukrainian airspace.
The problem is that Ukrainians would need to be trained how to to use any new aircraft they purchase or receive. American F-16s would make sense, but they would require significant training time to make the switch from Soviet-made to American-made hardware. Enter European countries. A few former Eastern Bloc countries still have Soviet-made equipment and Ukraine has asked them for those same aircraft.
Bulgaria, Poland, and Slovakia all operate MiG-29 Fulcrums, which Ukraine does as well. Bulgaria also operates Su-25 Frogfoots, which is a ground attack aircraft the Ukraine flies (and has already lost at least two in combat). It’s not clear how many Fulcrums Ukraine may have lost thus far in the war.
Ukraine claims that the three countries have announced they will provide 70 aircraft to Ukraine and bolster the Ukrainian air force. Here is how that breaks down.
I should note that after I wrote this and designed this, there are indications that Bulgaria has now refused to send the MiGs. Things change fast in war, so take this all with a grain of salt.
Credit for the piece is mine.