Some 14 MiG-29s fighter jets which are in the process of being delivered by Poland to Ukraine have been upgraded to carry NATO weapons including the UK- donated 'Storm Shadow' cruise missile.
The 'Storm Shadow' with its 250 km range and radar evading ability, will enable Ukrainian pilots to blunt some of the air superiority which Russian Forces enjoy over their adversaries.
While announcing the $5 million each 'Storm Shadow' donation, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in the House of Commons Thursday that the missiles give Ukrainians "the best chance to defend themselves."
While with the Polish air force, the MiG-29s were upgraded to 'NATO standards,' which included new avionics, radar, navigation and communication besides a new onboard complex with a HUD display and a multi-function head indicator, according to Polish media reports from 2020.
The upgrade program, reportedly carried out by Israeli Aerospace Industries enabled the Polish MiGs to use NATO weapons, including the AGM-88 HARM high-velocity anti-radar missiles, AIM-9 short-range infrared homing air-to-air missiles besides medium-range air-to-air AIM-120 missiles with a target engagement range of up to 70 km.
In addition, Polish upgraded MiG-29 fighters can use American JDAM and JDAM-ER-guided bombs. Earlier, 15 modernized MiG-29 fighters were deployed at the 23rd Minsk-Mazovetsky Air Base, Poland and practiced with some of these weapons during exercises.
Ben Wallace said the missiles would be compatible with Ukraine's existing, Soviet-era planes and praised the technicians and scientists who made that possible, BBC reported.
He however disclosed that the range of the British-supplied 'Storm Shadow' was "not in the same league" as some of Russia's own missiles - a tacit warning not to bomb Russian territory and risk further retaliation.