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Video Above: MiG 29s

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

The former US Air Commander of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan is truly “puzzled” by Russia’s inability to establish air superiority and hopes that the much discussed Polish MIG 29s will quickly get to Ukraine.

Polish MiG 29s

“Their (Russia) failure to achieve air superiority is really puzzling. Control of the air is a prerequisite to both freedom to attack and to be free from attack. This is why the transfer of the 28 Polish MiG 29 into Ukraine is so important and it should have happened already, quite frankly, without all the fanfare going on in the media. 

It should have been done quietly, with Ukrainian pilots taking the train to Poland, flying the Jets back to Ukraine and getting them into the fight,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and former Afghan Air War Commander, told The National Interest in an interview.

The Pentagon has denied a Polish request to hand their MiG 29s over to the United States to send to Ukraine, citing major concerns about potential escalation and worry that it would spark World War III. “The Ukrainians need them for the sustainment of their Air Force, because when you use fighter aircraft in combat and fly them often and hard, they tend to break. So the additional MiG 29 would help sustain Ukrainian defense against Russian aggression,” Deptula said.

Ret. Lt. Gen. David Deptula

Ret. Lt. Gen. David Deptula

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Deptula is of the view that the Polish planes could make a huge difference when it comes to current Ukrainian efforts to challenge Russia in the air and deny the invading force an opportunity to achieve air superiority. If done quietly, Deptula explained the jets could have their intended effect without generating broader Russia-US conflict.

“Once they were there, no one could know or tell which aircraft came from Poland. This isn’t rocket science. Now, the claim that the fighter aircraft transfer was not likely going to change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force against the Russians is simply not accurate. I”m still hopeful that there will be an opportunity to shift those aircraft,” Deptula said.

Video Above: MiG 29s

To further reinforce his point, Deptula cited a significant instance from history, going all the way back to WWII and 1940, about how the US was able to get air support to England without violating the US Neutrality Act. “Because of the neutrality laws, the United States refused to directly deliver armaments to Britain at the beginning of the war…. then Winston Churchill called President Roosevelt and he begged for the delivery of the aircraft,” Deptula explained. “In response, the US was able to get the aircraft to England by moving the aircraft North to the Canadian border, where Britain took delivery of them and literally pulled them into Canada with horses and trucks. The Poles could fly their MIG 29s to roads next to Ukraine and the Ukrainians could fly them over the border. So there is an option, but it needs to be done quietly,”

Using the phrase a “weapons system is a weapons system,” Deptula argued that the Russians would likely have problems with any and all items the US might send to Ukraine.

“NATO right now is giving Ukraine rifles and missiles. It’s time to give aircraft that can help them immediately and be put to use defending their people. If we transfer a pocket knife to Ukraine, Putin is going to object. A weapons system is a weapon system,” he said.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President, Center for Military Modernization