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Slovakia became an independent country after the peaceful break-up of Czechoslovakia in January 1993. As decided, the new air force inherited half of the former country’s fleet of MiG-29 fighters, including the type’s maintenance facilities. Additional deliveries of MiG-29s followed and gave air force a credible fighter force. Many years later, Slovakia remains one of only a few European countries that still flies these smoky twin tails. A good reason to visit Slovakia and get a taste of Eastern European military aviation, as it used to be.

MiGs galore

Annually, the Slovak International Air Fest (SIAF) is organized at the country’s sole fighter base: Sliac. A scramble of two MiG-29s opened the air display program, which was filled with many highlights. Armed with missiles, the MiGs happened to be intercepting a special guest…

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The country’s new presidential aircraft was led to Sliac by the MiGs and made a spectacular low pass before coming in for a short stop. Its color scheme is no less spectacular!

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Another government agency, the Slovak national police, displayed its counter terrorism skills with this new Mi-171, a derivative of the mass produced Mil Mi-8 helicopter.

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The Ukrainian air force brought the stars of the show, a pair of locally upgraded Su-27 fighters, famous for their great power and maneuverability.

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The single seater put on an awesome display, ending with the large drag chute being pulled, just the way we like it.

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We also like jet warbirds, especially if they are flown in original colors like this Slovak registered L-29 Delfin. Without a doubt, this is a new star of the Eastern European warbird scene…

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Not to mention the MiG-15UTI, which were built in great numbers in Czechoslovakia (as CS-102) and Poland (SB Lim-2) under license. Many of these still exist, although few are in flying condition, like this immaculate OK-UTI.

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A recent trend is to paint aviation pioneers, heroes and aces on the tails of fighter aircraft. The 2nd squadron, based at Sliac, follows this trend, with one of its L-39s displaying Slovak national Sqn/Ldr Otto Smik, who led 127 sqn of the Royal Air Force during the 2nd World War and was fatally shot down near Zwolle, The Netherlands.