THE CZECH Air force is swapping ten "mothballed" Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters for 11 Polish PZL-Swidnik W-3 Sokol helicopters.

The barter arrangement, was approved by the Czech Government, on 13 December and deliveries of the MiG-29s to the Polish air force, were due to be completed by the end of 1995. Deliveries of W-3 medium-utility helicopters to the Czech air force were to take place simultaneously.

The Czech air force needs the W-3s to replace its obsolete Mil Mi-2 Hoplite helicopters, which it acquired in 1978, for the search and rescue and medical-evacuation roles. The Polish air force already operates 20 MiG-29s.

The Czech defence ministry has not disclosed the value of the trade, but confirms that the Polish Government will have to provide additional goods and services as part of the deal.

"It is a pure barter arrangement. There are no arrangements for cash transfers. However, what form the remaining payment will take remains to be determined when the two governments officially sign the barter deal before Christmas," the ministry says.

The Czech Republic had been in negotiations with other countries interested in buying the MiG-29s, including the USA and Syria. Negotiations with the USA broke down because it only wanted to buy four aircraft, for testing purposes, while the Czech Government decided that selling the aircraft to Syria would damage its relations with the West.

The Czech MiG-29s have been in storage for over two years.

Source: Flight International