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US Buys 81 Soviet Fighter Jets From Russian Ally for $19K Each: Report

Ukrainian SU-27 fighters escort an SU-24 front-line bomber during an air force exercise at the Starokostyantyniv military air base, October 12, 2018.
GENIYA SAVILOV | Getty Images

  • The United States has purchased 81 Soviet-era fighter jets from Kazakhstan, the Kyiv Post reports.
  • Kazakhstan, Russia’s historic ally, is becoming more engaged with Western countries.
  • The planes could be used as spares or deployed as decoys in conflict regions, the Post said.

The United States has acquired 81 obsolete Soviet-era fighter jets from Kazakhstan, the Kyiv Post reported.

Kazakhstan, which is modernizing its air fleet, auctioned off 117 Soviet-era fighter jets and bombers, including MiG-31 interceptors, MiG-27 fighter-bombers, MiG-29 fighters and Su-bombers. 24 from the 1970s and 1980s.

The reported sales value was one billion Kazakh tenge, the Post said, or $2.26 million, equating to an average value for each plane of $19,300.

The United States has purchased 81 aging and unusable warplanes, Ukrainian Telegram channel Insider UA said, according to the Post.

The reason for the U.S. purchase was not revealed, the Post said, but it raised the possibility of their use in Ukraine, where similar planes are in service.

The sale was made through offshore companies, Reporter, an English-language Russian news site, said.

Given Ukraine’s continued reliance on Soviet-era weapons, the plane could either serve as a source of spare parts or be strategically deployed as a decoy at airfields, the Post said.

The Mikoyan MiG-31 was a supersonic interceptor designed to defend Soviet airspace, according to Airforce Technology. It played a crucial role during the Cold War.

Derived from the MiG-23, the MiG-27 was a ground attack aircraft and participated in conflicts such as the Soviet-Afghan War. The MiG-29 excelled in air-to-air combat. It was widely exported and remains in service with some air forces.

Despite its age, the Su-24 – an all-weather tactical bomber – remains in service with several air forces, including the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Ukrainian Air Force.

MiG-31
Russian Ministry of Defense

Kazakhstan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, maintains close ties with Russia and has always been one of its strongest allies. But relations have changed since Russia invaded Ukraine, with Kazakhstan aligning itself more with the West, sparking fury from some in Russia.

The Central Asian country’s efforts to improve its military capabilities coincide with its growing engagement with Western countries, signaling an abandonment of historic ties with Moscow, according to the Kyiv Post analysis.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Ak Orda Presidential Palace in Astana, Kazakhstan, February 28, 2023.
Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan in March 2023, where he said the United States strongly supports “its independence and territorial integrity,” according to the AFP news agency.

Some Russian propagandists have suggested that Russia should turn to Kazakhstan after its invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian television commentator, Vladimir Solovyov, said his country “must pay attention to the fact that the next problem will be Kazakhstan, because the same Nazi processes can start there as in Ukraine.”

Agreements on trade, education, environment and mineral supply reflect deepening ties between Kazakhstan and Western countries as Kazakhstan faces geopolitical challenges posed by neighboring countries like Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran.

Correction: April 28, 2024 — An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the conversion rate from the Kazakh tenge to the dollar. One billion tenge is worth $2.26 million, not $1.5 million.

News Source : www.businessinsider.com
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