Bratislava, Slovakia – A Soviet-made MiG-29 military fighter jet from the Slovak Air Force crashed on September 28, the Defence Ministry confirmed over the week-end.
The incident occurred during a training flight in the district of Nitra, near the city of Nove Sady, located some 100 km east of Bratislava.
According to the ministry’s statement, the man flying the aircraft, an experienced pilot with around 1,200 flying hours, was able to eject before the crash. He has been hospitalized, but his condition is stable and his life isn’t in danger.
“I would like to pay homage to the pilot’s professionalism”, Defence Minister Peter Gajdos said, as “the civilian population wasn’t endangered, since the aircraft crashed in an uninhabited area, only due to his adequate response”.
The Slovak Defence Ministry decided to ground all of its remaining 11 MiG-29 jets until the end of the investigation into the exact causes of the incident.
After numerous delays and postponements, which many analysts feared would only prolong the country’s military dependence on Russia, Slovakia recently signed a deal to buy 14 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin in order to replace its fleet of ageing, Soviet-made MiG-29s.
Confirmed this summer by the U.S. Department of Defence, the $800 million contract has been slated as the “biggest-ever military purchase” in the history of Slovakia.
The Slovak Air Force will, however, have to wait until 2022 for the first F-16s to be delivered.